Ovechkin: "I'm pretty sure Edmonton is doomed"
I'm not quite up to the task of making a detailed analysis of the Stanley Cup playoffs myself, like most hockey blogs have already done this week. However, I do have first-round predictions from two of this site's favorite Russian NHL'ers, Alexander Ovechkin and Andrei Nazarov, thanks to Sport Express:
Alexander Ovechkin's predictions
Ottawa vs. Tampa Bay - "Ottawa will win in 4 games. I'm no great forecaster, but I am confident in this outcome. The Senators, by my estimation, are one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. Tampa Bay's goaltenders, on the other hand, are not very good. This series seems pretty clear-cut to me."
Carolina vs. Montreal - "Montreal in six. As a forward, I'd much rather play against Montreal's defensemen than Carolina's. However, (Montreal's) Alexei Kovalev is without a doubt the biggest factor in this match-up. Still, Carolina is strong enough where this series should go at least six games."
New Jersey vs. New York Rangers - "New Jersey in five. It isn't easy to choose between Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur. I believe that a lot of a team's momentum comes from their goaltending, so I predict that the Devils will win. But this is a case where anything could happen. Because of that, you might expect me to say that this will go to seven games, but I'm not going to guess seven games for any of these, because I don't like a long series."
Buffalo vs. Philadelphia - "Buffalo in five. Buffalo is a very good team, on which Maxim Afinogenov plays very well. Philadelphia is more unpredicable, which makes it difficult to say who will come out on top. How much Peter Forseberg will be able to contribute is open to question, and also their defense isn't playing very well. It will be difficult for them to keep up with the speedy Buffalo players."
Detroit vs. Edmonton - "Detroit in four. This is a very powerful team. You can't just focus on one player. I can still remember how hard it is to play against them. They are a well-oiled machine. I'm pretty sure that Edmonton is doomed."
Dallas vs. Colorado - "Dallas in five. Washington didn't play against Colorado this year, so this is just a guess on my part. Based on statistics, Dallas appears to be better."
Calgary vs. Anaheim - "Calgary in five. This is another team that I didn't see this year; the teams in the Eastern Conference very rarely meet the teams from the West. But we did win in Anaheim, and I've been told that Calgary is even better. Plus, as a forward, I have greater respect for defensive teams."
Nashville vs. San Jose - "San Jose in five. The loss of Czech goalie Tomas Vokoun will simply kill Nashville. It is difficult enough to control the duo of Thornton and Cheechoo, so without their goaltender, I assume that Nashville has no chance."
Andrei Nazarov with the Kansas City Blades!
Andrei Nazarov's predictions
Ottawa vs. Tampa Bay - "Ottawa will win in six games. The Senators are an energetic, running team, which I know from experience can be very tough to play against. Maybe they weren't up to the task in previous years, but they've added some very strong players this year."
Carolina vs. Montreal - "Carolina in six. When I think of this team, I think of Oleg Tverdovsky, who is playing in top form. I consider this team to be one of the pleasant suprises of this season. Carolina's big advantage is their balance, in that they have three sets of five players that are equal to each other, all capable of sharing ice time evenly."
New Jersey vs. New York Rangers - "New Jersey in seven. In my heart, I root for Jagr and the other players on the Rangers that I'm familiar with. However, reason tells me that New Jersey will come out on top. This is a team with enormous playoff experience, plus the best goaltender in Brodeur, plus Viktor Kozlov, plus Gionta."
Buffalo vs. Philadelphia - "Philadelphia in six. This team has many experienced veterans, which will be the deciding factor."
Detroit vs. Edmonton - "Detroit in six. They have had problems with goaltending in Edmonton. They got Roloson from Minnesota, but unfortunately he isn't always dependable."
Dallas vs. Colorado - "Colorado in seven. This series is very unpredictable. The goaltending for each team is probably the weakest of all the teams in the playoffs. I think because of that, there will be a lot of back-and-forth in this series. I pick the Denver team for one reason: I know from my own experience that it is hard to play in their arena, since there isn't enough oxygen. This little detail can become decisive."
Calgary vs. Anaheim - "Calgary in six. I have no doubt that the Canadian team will win. They have special fans in Calgary, who will not allow the team to lose. Anaheim is in over their heads."
Nashville vs. San Jose - "San Jose in seven. I have faith in my former team, or more precisely, in Thornton, Cheechoo, and Nabokov."