Thursday, May 8, 2008

Stanley Cup Conference Finals predictions

By Rick Morris

Pittsburgh over Philadelphia in 6

Detroit over Dallas in 6

Detroit over Pittsburgh in 6

After starting out 6-2 in the first round of the playoffs, I slumped to 1-3 in the second round. The common denominator in both rounds was that I was wrong about Dallas and Philly both times. Both teams have red-hot goalies who could make a tremendous difference in a series, and frankly, I think they're the best two goalies remaining at this time (notwithstanding Chris Osgood's excellent season and 6-0 record since taking over in the first round of the playoffs). I discussed these series as length with hockey analyst Kyle O'Rourke on our program THE GOON SQUAD last night and we split on the West finals. I had been leaning towards Dallas because of their incredible run against the powerful Anaheim and San Jose squads thus far in the postseason. They look like a team of destiny. And yet, I find myself leaning towards the Winged Wheel because teams with an easier track to the Finals have tended to advance there more consistently over time -- and their high-end players (i.e. Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk) are better than Dallas' top guns with the exception of Marty Turco. It's hard for me as an admitted diehard Wings fan to reverse my initial gut feeling that Dallas would move on without facing accusations of homerism -- but I'm not going to reverse my final position on this merely out of fear of what others might say. Take the East, for example, which features the Penguins, and I as a native Clevelander have been born and bred to loathe all things Pittsburgh. But I think the Pens' dominant offense and underrated defense will combine to overwhelm the Flyers in the end. I pick this series to go six just because I don't want to risk completely underestimating Philly, but I don't think they can hang in the end. That would set up the Wings and Penguins in the Finals. Can my heart handle it? It's going to have to!

For more thoughts, check out the analysis of our pal Russ Cohen at Hockeyology.

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