April 23, 2003
Postcard: Stanley Cup Second Round Preview

You could tell the hockey fans in offices around the country Wednesday: they were the folks with bleary eyes (and browsers open to INCH, of course). After a one-day respite the Stanley Cup Playoffs return on Thursday, and we're ready with a light-hearted look at the matchups ahead (if you missed it earlier, check out our first-round preview).

Included are our predictions and our picks for the first round MVPs for each team – not counting, of course, anyone who didn't play college hockey.

Dallas vs. Anaheim

The biggest surprise in the first round may have been Anaheim’s sweep of Detroit, but a close second was the dull reaction from octopus land. Even the Capitals were prepared to point fingers as soon as they were eliminated (then again, they have years of practice). Detroit should have recruited Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf to deny that the series ever took place, or insist that it was actually Cujo wearing the funny duck on his sweater. Alas, the Dead Things disappeared faster than you could say “family photo.”

That leaves us with Dallas and Anaheim – those two hockey hotbeds – and the Stars go from facing the forgiving five-hole of Tommy Salo to the red-hot J-S Giguere. Giguere is the latest to earn the “next Patrick Roy” tag, which apparently means he’ll be giving up back-to-back overtime goals to expansion teams in a few years. Dallas, meanwhile, expects injured stars Bill Guerin and Pierre Turgeon to join the offense, which is somewhat akin to the Yankees making some trades to shore up their starting rotation.

INCH First Round College MVPs: Marty Turco gets so much credit for his puck-handling skills, you’d think he was the most versatile athlete in Dallas since Danny White played QB and punter for the Cowboys. As overrated as he is outside the crease, however, the former Michigan Wolverine gets the job done where it counts – stopping the puck. At the other end of the rink, Keith Carney was a horse defensively for the Ducks in the first round, earning him a slight nod here over fellow Maine alum Paul Kariya. Also deserving mention is Anaheim’s Jason Krog, whose performance on Arrowhead Pond’s ice has been impressive (albeit four years too late for UNH fans).

INCH Prediction: Dallas in seven

Vancouver vs. Minnesota

You’d think the only way Minnesota could get past star-laden Colorado in the first round was if they stripped the nameplates off everyone’s jerseys and let Monica Lewinsky host the series. She might as well have: the Wild’s personality – smart, gritty, with a youthful enthusiasm – was on display, especially in overtime wins in games six and seven. (Aside: did I really pick a Colorado sweep of Minnesota? While I was at it, I should have picked UNH to win the national title on espn.com. Oh, wait, I did that, too. The Cincinnati Bengals have a better track record with their picks.)

Meanwhile, once Vancouver figured out that its search for second-line scoring was going about as well as the U.S. search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the first line just stepped up and did the job on its own. That and surprisingly good goaltending from Dan Cloutier – who really ought to get a new mask, if only to eliminate comparisons to first-round counterpart Chris Osgood – helped the Canucks overcome a 3-1 deficit. They’ll need more of the same to beat the surprising Wild.

INCH First Round College MVPs: Antti Laaksonen epitomized Minnesota’s style throughout the series, even if he didn’t make a big impression on the scoresheet. The Denver alum, who still lives in the Mile High City, may not get such a warm reception from his neighbors this summer. Michigan grad Brendan Morrison, the George Lazenby to Naslund and Bertuzzi’s Sean Connery and Roger Moore, had a goal and an assist in game seven, and was a force on faceoffs throughout the series.

INCH Prediction: Minnesota in seven

Rooting Rules

Don’t have a rooting interest in a Stanley Cup Playoff game? Here are a few of Inside College Hockey’s guidelines to help you decide who to cheer for.

• Root for whoever’s behind in the series: Every hockey fan wants as many games to be played as possible. Along those lines, there’s nothing worse than a sweep – and nothing better than a game seven.

• Root for the college guys: We always like to pull for the club with good college representation, especially if the guys played for your favorite team. Resist the temptation to root against guys who left school early – the fact that they’re here shows that they probably made the right choice. Make an exception, however, if it’s the Calder Cup Playoffs you’re watching: feel free to boo the Providence Bruins when Andy Hilbert and Jeff Jillson ought to be in Maize and Blue.

• Root against college enemies: The rest of the hockey world may have forgotten the time that Brian Gionta took a dive against your team, then set up the game-winner on the ensuing power play. Doesn’t mean you have to. Go Lightning.

• Root against the Philadelphia Flyers. Doesn’t this go without saying?

• Root for long overtimes: Along the lines of the as-many-games-as-possible rule, you root for more hockey. And it says great things about your priorities when your eyelids are drooping, you’re calculating in your head how many minutes of sleep you might get before the next morning’s big meeting, but you’re still hoping that the game goes on.

Ottawa vs. Philadelphia

The Senators made several key additions to add toughness this year, which was as out of character as the French developing a bullying army. Nevertheless, it’s worked so far, as the Sens’ beat the New York Islanders so quickly that they had time to visit the golf courses they’re accustomed to playing each spring. Plus, Philly’s win over Toronto ensures that Ottawa won’t get raked up by the Leafs for a fourth straight season.

Instead, we’ve got what could be a great matchup between the East’s two best defensive teams in the first round. Between Jeremy Roenick, Tony Amonte, John LeClair, Mark Recchi, Keith Primeau and more, you’d think the Flyers would be able to muster more than the two goals they scored in last year’s five-game series with the Senators – which was a performance as inspiring as Sylvester Stallone’s idea to make Rocky into a musical, to speak of another Philly tragedy.

INCH First Round College MVPs: Coming off a career-best 60-point regular season, former Hobey Baker runner-up Todd White registered three goals in Ottawa’s five-game series. New Clarkson head coach George Roll – who, as an assistant, recruited White to Potsdam – must be smiling. On the Flyers’ side, former Maine Black Bear Eric Weinrich stands tied for second on the team in scoring with 2-3—5, all while helping overcome the loss of Eric Desjardins to injury. Now if he’d just do something about that bright yellow snowmobile visor he’s wearing …

INCH Prediction: Ottawa in six

New Jersey vs. Tampa Bay

Historically, seeing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the playoffs was about as likely as Geraldo Rivera and Peter Arnett turning up at a USO rally. And yet here they are, having dispatched the Washington Capitals and Chemical Olie in six games. They face the New Jersey Devils, a franchise so dull that it can win a Stanley Cup and still be best remembered for David Puddy’s face-painting episode on Seinfeld.

The result of this series could hinge on a Martin vs. Martin showdown, as Eric Perrin’s old linemate, Martin St. Louis, tries to keep his hot streak alive against Vezina favorite Martin Brodeur. Here’s hoping it doesn’t inspire Martin Lawrence and Martin Sheen to team up in an odd-couple movie along the lines of Anger Management.

INCH First Round College MVPs: Nikolai Khabibulin was great in games five and six, but if it wasn’t for St. Louis, the Lightning would be watching the second round from home between trips to the Mons Venus, the most famous men’s club south of Augusta National. His move to the top line with Vincent Lecavalier and Vaclav Prospal created a chemistry not unlike his time in Vermont alongside Perrin and J.C. Ruid. New Jersey’s first-round win was keyed by the efforts of another undersized ex-collegian, as John Madden shut down Joe Thornton and chipped in eight points of his own. The former Wolverine will probably be assigned to Lecavalier, so we can expect a few run ins between Madden and St. Louis along the way.

INCH Prediction: New Jersey in six

– Nate Ewell

About Us
| Advertiser Info | Site Map | Privacy Policy
© 2003 Inside College Hockey, Inc., All Rights Reserved