Stanley Cup playoffs, round 2
The second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs crank up Thursday night with two games: Colorado visits Detroit and Philly is at Montreal. On Friday, it's the Rangers at Pittsburgh and Dallas at San Jose.
So in the words of MC Hammer, let's "break it down:''
Philadelphia vs. Montreal
Both teams are coming off emotional Game 7 victories and, quite frankly, I don't know how the Flyers are here. The Canadiens are the better team, but the Flyers have more grit. In the playoffs, that means something. Still, Montreal has a bit more scoring punch and cannot be accused of being soft. The Habs can withstand the physical play of the Flyers. And goalie Carey Price does not look like a rookie. Canadiens in five.
NY Rangers vs. Pittsburgh
Jaromir Jagr returns to Pittsburgh. Oh, speaking of Jags, check out what he said about Sidney Crosby/Mario Lemieux comparisons. The Pens are coming off an impressive four-game sweep of Ottawa, but the Sens were finished before that series started. The Rangers are deeper than Pittsburgh, better in goal and look for their forwards to punish Pittsburgh's defense -- the Pens' weak link. Rangers in six.
Colorado vs. Detroit
A renewel of one of the most bitter rivalries in sports. I still think the Avs should sign Claude Lemieux just for this series. Detroit looked shaky against Nashville. In fact, the Red Wings looked shaky for big chunks of the second half. Still, they're better than Colorado. The Avs are talented, but key players are old. And I still can't believe Jose Theodore is playing as well as he has in goal for the Avs. If Theodore can keep it going, he could steal the series. But ... Red Wings in six.
Dallas vs. San Jose
The Sharks, as is their nature, tried to choke away their first round series against Calgary, but the Flames beat them to it. Meantime, the Stars were impressive taking out the defending champs. The Stars just have that look of a team that's going to go deep into the playoffs, especially with Marty Turco finally shedding his tag of "can't-win-in-the-playoffs.'' I like Dallas to win the whole West, but this series will be close. Stars in six.