The playoffs are here!

It’s time for that second season, the hockey playoffs. The time hockey switches from marathon to sprints. Four sprints and you take home the stanley cup. Nothing to it. (yeah, right).

As usual, I’m handicapping the playoffs. And as usual, anyone who bets on my handicapping is an idiot, since I’m consistently under .500…

Eastern Conference:

Ottawa/New York Islanders (Ottawa in 5): I don’t trust the Isle’s goaltending, and I really like Ottawa’s overall play.

New Jersey/Boston (New Jersey in six): Might be the most interesting to watch, but I’ll bet on Brodeur, thanks.

Tampa/Washington (Tampa in 6): who cares? one loses in the first round, the other in the 2nd. I’m not interested in watching either team play.

Philadelphia/Toronto (Toronto in 6): I’ll take Eddie Belfour here, and Nolan, and the Leafs crew. If they can stay out of penalty trouble. Which they have trouble doing. But I’ve made a solemn pledge to never pick a Philly team as long as Bobby Clarke is GM, and in recent years, he’s proven me right. His teams find a way to mess up at crunch time.

My pick to go to the cup finals: Ottawa. My preference to go to the finals: Toronto.

Western Conference:

Dallas/Edmonton (Edmonton in 6): these two meet again. what, did it get written into the labor contract? Aren’t they tired of beating each other up yet? Dallas ought to win, but I’m rooting for Edmonton anyway. Just because sooner or later, Edmonton ought to find a way to beat Dallas in a series.

Detroit/Anaheim (Detroit in 4): welcome back to the playoffs, Anaheim. Well done. But don’t expect miracles.

Colorado/Minnesota (Colorado in 4): and welcome to the playoffs for the first time, Minnesota, even if you’re a Jacques LeMair team and horribly boring to watch. enjoy it while it lasts…

Vancouver/St. Louis (Vancouver in 5): St. Louis never gets out of the first round. nobody can figure out why. But my best guess this year is their goaltending will let them down. Whatever else, though, the Blues will find some way to exit early again. it’s become a tradition, sort of like the Blackhawks finding ways to miss the playoffs.

My pick to come out of the west: Colorado (Roy, Forsberg, Sakic, Blake. any questions?)

My preference to come out of the west: Vancouver: (Bertuzzi, Naslund, Jovanoski, Sedin, Sedin, Linden, Klatt, Cloutier…)

My probable cup final: Ottawa/Colorado (colorado wins in 6)

My preferred cup final: Toronto/Vancouver (Vancouver wins in 7. Sorry, Owen)

The cup final guaranteed to make ABC/ESPN hate hockey: Edmonton/Ottawa.

Dark horses: none.