Stanley Cup Third Round Preview
have forced us to lose sleep (too many overtimes), gain weight
(can’t exercise; tv) and lose patience (why wasn’t
game four of Minnesota-Vancouver televised nationally?).
And now, they’ve
cost us work. Inside College Hockey had to throw out our Dallas-Colorado
Conference Final preview jokes and start from scratch. We overcame
that adversity, however, and like round
one and round
two, we’re back with a light-hearted look at the race
for the Cup.
If the abundance
of ex-college stars isn’t enough for you, we’ve got
some added college content as well: along with the preview, we
tell you what recent college team most closely resembles the semifinalists.
vs. New Jersey
With a pair
of convincing five-game series victories thus far, New Jersey
has been the most impressive thing in the playoffs this side of
Coors Light’s “Wingman” commercial. Unlike the
ad, however, watching the Devils gets old. Their fifth game against
Tampa Bay was so dull, ESPN commentators were practically apologetic,
and viewers in Toronto took to the streets – without surgical
Meanwhile, the Senators head into the New Jersey
series much like immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, a few slapshots
from the Meadowlands – penniless, hungry and carrying the
hopes of a nation. Ottawa – with a playoff history as unimpressive
as its balance sheet – has dodged those demons thus far.
Another series win and they become the first Canadian team since
1994 to reach the Cup finals.
comparisons: The Devils are Cornell, playing great defense
but shying away from the dreaded “trap” label. They
even wear red. Small-market Ottawa, with an unheralded superstar
in Marian Hossa, could pass for Ferris State and Chris Kunitz
– with a little nicer rink than Ewigleben.
Prediction: Ottawa in six
Anaheim and Minnesota will meet with a Stanley Cup Finals berth
on the line, a scenario that one month ago seemed as likely as
Ken Hitchcock being named to People’s 50 Most Beautiful
list. The Mighty Ducks have disposed of the top two seeds in the
West, thanks to the heroics of Jean-Sebastien Giguere. An anonymous
Republican strategist dismissed Giguere’s performance, however,
saying that his name “sounds French.”
The last few
days have felt like any other spring in Anaheim – no hockey
games. But Minnesota, one day removed from its second seven-game
series, has been busier than a strip club at the SEC football
coaches convention. The Wild played games six and seven on back-to-back
days in both of their first two series, becoming the first team
ever to erase two 3-1 deficits in one season. Goaltender Dwayne
Roloson credits the fact that everyone on the team has been counted
out at one point or another – and he might have a point.
How else do you explain the resurgence of those ugly mesh hats
they were giving out at the NFL Draft?
comparisons: The Wild are like Nebraska-Omaha from 2000
– rabid fans, unexpected success and a passionate style
of play that makes up for a lack of big names. Anaheim, with a
couple of Black Bears on its roster, seems a lot like this year’s
Maine club – great young goaltending, and veteran talent
up front. They haven’t suffered Maine’s fate down
the stretch, however.
Prediction: Minnesota in seven