Halifax Citadelles vs Kanata Saints
The Citadelles have a very respectable team and had a good season going 42-32-10 but there are very few teams that have looked better than the Saints this season. The Saints had one of their very best seasons with a 58-17-9 record. GM Stephen Legge made no a statement at the trade deadline to bring in some big names by moving the little youth they had on the squad. Now is the time for the Saints and this one will likely be over quickly thanks to the exceptional play of Martin Brodeur and company.
Prediction: Saints in 5
Detroit Cougars vs New York Demons
With both teams having some good offense team defense will be the x factor in this series. Detroit has some good young puck-movers on their squad but can they stand up to Joe Thornton and company? The Demons boast a bit more oomph and are built a little better for the playoffs behind guys like Chara, McCabe, Regehr and company. They’ll have their hands full with Toews, Kariya and Gaborik but my money is on New York taking this tight series.
Prediction: Demons in 6
Chicoutimi Sparrows vs Niagara Falls IceDogs
A rematch of last season’s Conference Finals, the Sparrows visit the Niagara Falls Icedogs in what is likely GM, Jon Lemoine’s final WHL season. The Icedogs boast an All-Star roster, one which many teams will have a tough time beating in the playoffs. They’re built for the playoffs. Marc Denis has played some great hockey all year long, but he’s going to have a tough time against this offense. Look for the Icedogs to play some inspired hockey to keep Lemoine around.
Prediction: Icedogs in 5
Quebec City Corinthians vs Toronto Stallions
The most compelling matchup of the first round pits the Corinths against the Stallions. The Corinths traded away some of the best players in the game in Gagne, Gionta and company during the deadline but they still have a formidable roster. The Stallions are on their last leg and if they don’t do it this year they may look to blow it up in the offseason. Expect this one to go long folks.
Prediction – nagging injuries cost the Stallions. Corinths in 7
Vancouver Voodoo vs Las Vegas Bulls
Don’t expect a repeat of what happened last season to the Bulls. The Bulls have the best talent in the league and were winners of the President’s Trophy this season. With a ton of goal scorers on the roster and everyone knowing their role, it’s going to be tough for the Voodoo to keep pucks out of the net. Especially considering that they traded away Martin Brodeur and are left with Marc-Andre Fleury who’s had a tough time as of late. In his past 4 games, Fleury has a 9.50 gaa and .836 sv%. On the verge of a rebuild, the Voodoo don’t have much help offensively so this one will be done quick.
Prediction: Bulls in 4
Minnesota Rink Rats vs Edmonton Dropkicks
The Rink Rats have played well as of late lead by the play of goaltender Ryan Miller. Miller is one of the best goaltenders in the world. Minnesota played the role of Cinderella last season and many of those players are still on the squad. They’ve done really well in their past 6 games including a win against the Dropkicks, but don’t count out the Kicks. They’re a team known for bad luck in the playoffs but they have a great goalie in Nabokov and some excellent talent up front. This series could go long
Prediction: Rats upset in 6
Anchorage Orcas vs Kelowna Cats
From bottom dwellers to playoff teams, both the Cats and Orcas have exceeded expectations this season. The Orcas are young and are going to be a contender for several years once their players mature. The Cats have played very well this season behind Chris Kunitz, Brian Boucher and Brian Campbell. Kunitz could very well win the Hart Trophy this season for his performance. Look for this to be a good learning step for the Orcas who will make a bigger statement in the next couple of years.
Prediction: Cats in 5
Saskachewan Dugouts vs Portland Timberjacks
Both teams are hot – the Timberjacks enter this matchup going 7-2-1 in their past 10 games while the Dugouts have gone 8-1-1 in their past 10 games. This will be a close matchup that will likely come down to intangibles. The key for the Dugouts will be stopping Ovechkin, Horcoff and Getzlaf who are point-per-game players. Look for this one to go long.
Prediction: TJacks in 7