4 april 2004

the colorado avalanche will win the stanley cup. believe that and i've got an iceberg in the outback i'd like to sell you.

ever since the second detroit meeting during the season the avs have gone from leading the division by a healthy margin to losing the division for the first time since the avs relocated to denver. and the stats haven't been pretty since then. consider the following since that 5-2 win in the joe louis arena:

and the most damning

that above is the perfect formula for giving up what was once a sure 10th straight division to choking (yes i said it) and pissing away the last fourth of the season. and it doesn't get any better when two of your big blockbuster offensive stars don't show up at all during the season. granted, paul kariya was hurt for a big part of the season with a wrist injury. but that still doesn't excuse the poor performance from he and teemu selanne. selanne even was a healthy scratch for two games during the year.

so through this year a season of high and realistic expectation to score goals, win the division, and at least get to the conference finals has turned into one of dissapointment and one that will likely end in the first round. and after the way the team has played the last 25 games, that would be the appropriate reward for this bunch of underachievers. and i say this not as a bandwagon jumping fan, i say this as a concerned fan from 1500 miles (2414 kilometres for you crazy canadians out there) away. i have not seen (or gotten the impression) that this team gave a whole lot of effort during that time. losses i can deal with as long as there was some effort involved. there wasn't one loss during that stretch that gave me the impression that better times were coming.

and with that said, let's move on to my playoff predictions (all ot losses are counted as losses). starting in the east:

1 tampa bay

8 new york islanders (won season series 3-1)

tampa won their division by the widest margin in the leauge in arguably the weakest division in the leauge. this isn't a slam on tampa though. props to bolts for doing that. but that isn't going to help them here in the second season. usually there is a first round playoff shocker in the first round and this is my pick for the one that upsets everything.

PREDICTION: NYI in 6

2 boston (won season series 3-2-1)

7 montreal

even if the habs won this series, i wouldn't consider it that much of an upset. boston has had some notably bad playoff series in recent years. and i am not quite convinced that boston can beat the playoff ghosts of the past. the b's will win this series. barely

PREDICTION: BOS in 7

3 philadelphia (won season series 3-2-1)

6 new jersey

the defending stanley cup champions will start their title defense on the road as they take on the philly flyers. new jersey's playoff run depends on one indvidual- scott stevens. the devils have been terminally mediocre ever since their captain went down for post concussion syndrome. there is no telling when (or if) he will be back. on the other hand, the flyers are a noted horrible first round team. from scoring only 2 goals in a 5 game series last year to going 7 games with ottawa. which philly team will we see?

PREDICTION: PHI in 6

OR

NJ in 7 (if scott stevens plays this series)

4 toronto (won season series 4-1-1)

5 ottawa

see toronto vs ottawa 8-1-2004, 31-1-2004, 3-4-2004

PREDICTION: TOR in 4


now out west:

1 detroit

8 nashville

(series tied 3-3)

nashville gave detroit all it wanted during the beginning of the season before losing the last 3 meetings (once in overtime). if nashville can get one in the joe, watch out. this is nashville's first playoff apperarance (one year belated) so they have absolutely nothing to lose. expect nashville to play loose, free and easy. and keep in mind that even though detroit has the president's trophy there was that little matter of playing a loose, free and easy team last year in the first round...

PREDICTION: DET in 5 or 6 (lets not kid ourselves.)

2 san jose

7 st. louis

(series tied 2-2)

san jose was streaking winning 11 of its last 17. st. louis expended a lot of energy just getting in the playoffs for the 25th consecutive year (congrats to st. louis. may your baseball team suck on a monkey's anus). don't look for much out of the blues as the city looks towards football season for a winner.

PREDICTION: SJ in 4

3 vancouver (won season series 3-2-1)

6 calgary

i would absolutely love to say that vancouver can choke on a fat one and die for a) cracking steve moore's neck and b) getting rewarded by the hockey gods by winning the division. i have no respect for an organization that would allow all of that hostility to go on in a 6 goal blowout. marc crawford showed the calibre of his character by telling his team after moore had already fought in the game "enough is enough". i would absolutely LOVE to tell you that the flames will beat the living hell out of vancouver. i really would. they are a dangerous bunch no one wants to play now. but i would be lying if i did. it will be close for a while, but vancouver will pull it out in the end.

PREDICTION: VAN in 5 (and no further)

4 colorado (won season series 3-1)

5 dallas

just because the avs have home ice doesn't mean a hill of beans in this series. dallas is playing as well as the avs are not. colorado's late season struggles have been well documented above. now throw in the fact that pauly kariya left the last game due to a leg injury. the avs have a defense as holey as swiss cheese and gave up 3-1 last year (in the playoff series and in game 7) to minnesota and the defense looks worse this time around. put it this way, if the avs don't steal game one at home, then this series is O-V-E-R.

PREDICTION: COL in 7

OR

DAL in 5 (if the stars win game 1)

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think that i am completely off the wall with some of my picks? then by all means tell me. i am open to response.  e-mail me at jcarti01@louisville.edu or jcarti01@yahoo.com. hate mail summarily saved for your humiliation later.