In January of 2001 I was in St Louis for a hockey trip and we had a off night so I attended a St Louis Blues game. The Blues were one of hockeys top teams and they had the reigning M.V.P in Chris Pronger. After watching the Sharks win in overtime i was in awe at the way Chris Pronger dominated the game. The guy is a freak of nature at 6ft6 240 lbs. I had never seen a defenseman dominate a game like Pronger did back then. The guy logged over 28 minutes of ice time had 1 goal and 2 assists. The Sharks ended up scoring 4 goals in the game, but none with Pronger on the ice. A knee surgery later the Blues give up on the former M.V.P. and sent him to Edmonton for defenseman Eric Brewer and a 1st round pick. At the time i said what a great trade for St. Louis because Pronger is not the player he use to be. After learning to adapt to the new NHL the 6ft6 defenseman is back to his old ways being the most dominant defenseman in hockey.
Sunday afternoon in the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings Pronger logged 27:32 scored the teams first goal and made the play of the game stealing the puck from Jason Williams and setting up Brad Winchester’s to put the Oilers on top 3-2. Pronger would finish the day a plus 4. After seeing the Oilers beat the Penguins 3-1 on January 10th i was so impressed with the Oilers speed and i predicted they were a team that could get to the finals if Chris Pronger could be the dominant force he was with the Blues. With Pronger showing a glimpse of his old self the Red Wings are in trouble and a upset is in the making.
1 Ottawa Senators VS 8 Tampa Bay Lighting
Just like in the Western Conference i see the 8th seed in the East knocking off the #1 seed. Ottawa has choked in the playoffs year after year and without Hasek they are doomed. Marty St. Louis had a great game Sunday recording 2 goals and netting the game winner. For the Lighting to take this series he needs to be the player from 03-04. Ottawa gets a big boost tonight with the return of Wade Redden.
3 New Jersey Devils Vs 6 New York Rangers
Nj leads 2-0
Without Jagr this series is over, but he expected to play in game 3 so dont count out the Rangers just yet. Gutsy move by head coach Tom Renney benching Henry Ludqvist in place of Kevin Weekes. I didn’t agree with the move and the move would backfire as the Devils won 4-1. Weekes is the kind of goalie that can steal a game not a series. Ludqvist on the other hand is a goalie who can steal a series and for the Rangers to have any shot of winning game three and the series Jagr and Ludqvist need to be playing on top of their games.
2 Dallas Stars Vs 7 Colorado Avalanche
Col leads series 2-0
Jose Theodore has been outstanding making big after big save but don’t jump off the Stars bandwagon just yet. Dallas will rebound in game three but when a team loses the lead in two straight games it could devasting to the clubs confidence. I still see this series going 7 games. pickem
4 Nashville Predators Vs 5 San Jose Sharks
series tied 1-1
The Predators took game 1 but in game 2 Jonathan Cheechoo had a goal and two assists as the Sharks posted a 3-0 win over the Predators to even the series. The Predators have the speed and grit advantage but what this series will come down to is the play of Thornton and Cheechoo. The best 1-2 combo in hockey and if they play the way they did in game 2 this series will be over in 6
2 Carolina Hurricanes VS Montreal Canadiens
MTL leads series 2-0
Never bet against the Montreal Canadiens come playoff time. They always play their best hockey in the 1st round and are showing us again after winning two games in Carolina. The Hurricanes are overrated and i believed the Canadiens would win the series but i didn’t see the Habs taking the first two games. Kovalev and Huet have been tremendous. MTL in 5
3 Calgary Flames VS 6 Mighty Ducks
series tied 1-1
The best playoff matchup of them all. The Ducks are one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs. I could see them losing in the first round or i could see them getting to the finals. I have not been impressed with the Flames. They have no offensive attack and not getting a center to play with Iginla at the deadline is going to hurt their chances of knocking off the Ducks. After two games in so far i still like the Ducks in 7
4 Buffalo Sabres VS 5 Philadelphia Flyers
Sabres lead 2-0
Buffalo came out flying last night smoking the Flyers 8-2. The game got ugly as the Flyers played dirty most of the game and they look like a mess. To make matters worse Flyers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock threw a few “F” bombs Lindy Ruffs way. All season i said the Flyers wouldn’t get out of the first round and they are going to make me look like a genius. They are a total mess…. Sabres in 4