North (Reasons to be optimistic)
<--The tallest man, the broadest shoulders, the longest tongue, the most minutes played.
Dwayne Roloson has had two games in the entire playoffs where he's had more than three goals scored on him (Detroit Game Four and Anaheim Game Four), and he didn't even look bad in either of those games. Let's also not forget goal four in the Detroit game was Lidstrom's pick and roll.
Shawn Horcoff is becoming quietly dominating, and I don't know that he's been properly slowed down at all in the playoffs. Teams are keying on Smyth, Hemsky and, to a lesser extent, Samsonov, and Horcoff is just getting his job done. He'll be the leading scorer in the final round, I think.
Carolina's defence has been getting the job done, but it's by committee (which isn't always bad, but still, who do you throw out, no questions asked, while protecting a lead late?), and could suffer hard under a good forecheck.
Carolina's forward depth has been talked about again and again, and it looks really good on paper, but they were basically playing Buffalo's AHL defence, and it took them seven games. Miller was a big part of that, sure, but the Canes also didn't exactly dominate the shot count through the series (with the exception of game two). Bergeron and Greene can give me a little bit of a sick feeling in our end sometimes, but they can't really be worse than Paetsch-Jillson AND Janik-Fitzpatrick (or whoever Buffalo was cobbling together by the end there), and if push comes to shove, we can always just play Pronger for 40 minutes a game. Right?
The Canes are cocky. Teemu Selanne was cocky, and now he's racing sportscars through Finland. They can call themselves the better team all they want--I don't care, so long as we get our name on the Cup.
Cam Ward might be getting tired. He was chased in Buffalo, and while Gerber is better than the average backup (certainly better than our backups), there's a reason they've been going with Ward. If we can shake him, and they start juggling goalies, it might be the crack we need.
Every year the Flames have gone to the Cup final, we've won the Stanley Cup the next year. Someone pointed that out in about September, to which I rolled my eyes and cursed our inescapable history. But, uh, you know, that was before we were in the Cup final.
The 99s--as Avi pointed out, it's taken exactly 99 games to get to the Cup final. And Horcoff was drafted 99th overall. Bob Cole his misidentified Jason Smith as Ryan Smyth 99 times. The Oilers rink staff have buried 99 loonies across the red line. Colonnade seats to the Stanley Cup Finals at Rexall cost $129, which is only $30 off from $99. Jay-Z has 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one. WE ONCE HAD WAYNE GRETZKY! THAT HAS TO MEAN SOMETHING!
South (why I'm scared)
Every single TSN analyst has picked the Oilers to win. Hell, almost everyone in Canada is picking the Oilers to win. That just can't be good.
Carolina's forwards do look really, really good on paper. We've also favoured a kind of sit-back-and-wait approach these playoffs, which I'm just not sure is the most effective strategy with this team. It seems like we should go at their defence hard, not just sit around and let them forecheck and shoot us into oblivion.
Peter Laviolette is a smart coach, who will be able to adjust the way Randy Carlyle couldn't (and, uh, I guess Ron Wilson, too, for that matter). If we win game one, I fully believe Laviolette will have some strategy for beating us in game two (the Canes haven't lost two in a row since their first two against Montréal). MacT has done that well, too, of course, which makes me think this will be a long series.
As I pointed out when I predicted the Canes to come out of the east (it's true, I don't know how to link to the post, put scroll to the April archives and see), they're the best home team in the league, and even though they had a weak conference, they had the best record outside their division of anyone in the East.
This whole run is exactly like Calgary's, which doesn't bode well for the end. Oh, but will the fire of heaven rain down upon Flames fans if we end up going further. Prepare to get paid back for a full season of looking down your noses at us, you frickin' bastards.
Canes bloggers seems nice. We really need to get some hate going on here. Hey, Canes fans: Ron Francis was a heartless pussy. Yeah, I said it. No. Heart. And, uh, Zarley Zalapski wore a bra under his shoulder pads for every game, because it made him "feel like [the] princess of Neverland." He started a tradition that Glen Wesley carries forward to this day. It's also worth noting that "Brind'amour" is French for "0 for 2."
Monday, June 5, 2006
North (Reasons to be optimistic)
Posted by DMFB at 12:04 PM