As much as I admire the way this gritty team battled through injuries to key players such as
Conversely, the Flames have been stumbling since the trade deadline when they were supposed to have improved. They ran into problems with injuries, the salary cap and confidence that continued as they blew a double-digit lead and surrendered the Northwest lead to Vancouver. There's no hint of a turnaround (see their uninspired 5-1 loss to rival Edmonton AFTER the Oilers had been closed out of the playoffs). Now they draw Chicago, a team on a mission, rather than playoff virgin Columbus. One can't help thnking their long slide out of a division crown isn't going to be an issue.
Give credit to Ducks GM
In the East, the Rangers are capable of upsetting Washington if it comes down to a battle of goaltending --
I'm not sure I'm ready to pick against the Devils just yet, but the Hurricanes have the look of a team capable of winning a couple of rounds. Ten players remain from the close-knit squad that won the Cup in 2006, so there's plenty of experience.
Surely some playoff experience helps.
Rookie coaches can win the Cup -- sometimes it seems as often as legends. But in a showdown, I'll take the veteran simply because I covered the 1993 Cup final where Demers