No room for wise men in playoff hits, misses

A wise man once said, “One who breaks even is richer for the experience of gambling than any potential treasure they may have won.”
Words of a fool.
You see, I’m not exactly pleased with my five-for-eight performance in picking first-round winners of the Stanley Cup playoffs. While I didn’t put money on these picks (that would be wrong, right?), there’s still some pride involved in being right—and the fun of gloating about it.
Of the three teams I picked that didn’t make it, two of them—New Jersey and Philadelphia—were ones I thought were shoo-ins.
Phoenix’s elimination was acceptable. I should have remembered there is still some residue from the Winnipeg Jets within the organization—which means the first round is their ceiling and its made of concrete.
So as the second round begins, it’s the perfect opportunity to once again throw on the blindfold one more time and toss darts at the playoff bracket.
Just heeding the words of another wise man: “Sorry, please try again.” (or was that the label inside my candy bar?)
On to the picks:
Detroit (1) vs. St. Louis (4)
The Red Wings looked impressive in taking four-straight from Vancouver after dropping the first two. Yet the old question haunts Detroit: is experience an advantage or just another word for “old?”
With the playoff scheduling format, I don’t buy the age factor. Guys with experience like Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Dominik Hasek, Luc Robitaille, Chris Chelios, and Igor Larionov make “Team early-to-mid 90s” the leading contender to win and keep winning.
The playoffs are all about hot goalies and the Blues’ Brent Johnson has delivered thus far. It’ll take two hot lines and continued strong play from Johnson to take this series to six games.
This week off may hurt them more than it helps. Red Wings in five.
Colorado (2) vs. San Jose (3)
Is it wrong to want another Colorado-Detroit matchup in the Western Conference final? It may not happen. Three of their last four playoff series (dating back to last year) have gone the full seven games.
For the talent they have, Colorado has been living too dangerously and the Sharks may be dangerous enough to catch them sleeping.
The teams split the season series as each took two on the other team’s home ice. Look for Colorado to stop toying with opponents and put San Jose away earlier in this one.
Avs in five.
Carolina (3) vs. Montreal (8)
Oh those crazy Habs. I wonder how many people across Canada were breaking out the old red-and-white jerseys this past week (yes, even those with “Roy” and “Richer” on the back—you know who you are).
Anyway, eighth-ranked Mont-real again proved 86 regular-season games are just a vehicle for beer and car ads by beating the top-ranked Bruins. Momentum is still on Montreal’s side and Jose Theodore’s name is being linked to “Patrick in 1986” and that’s a scary omen.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes got by the Devils on the strength of two overtime wins and still haven’t impressed much. I can’t believe I’m saying this again but Montreal will continue to ride the hot goalie.
Canadiens in six.
Toronto (4) vs. Ottawa (7)
How’s this for blatantly obvious: the winner will not be Ottawa. Despite goalie Patrick Lalime’s three-straight shutouts, I’m not sold on the Senators’ toughness (yeah, yeah, the Flyers’ big guys didn’t do much in the first round).
And the fact that Toronto has eliminated them the past two seasons isn’t helping me sway my opinion.
Still, the Leafs barely escaped the New York Islanders in seven games and have looked like a beatable team these past two weeks.
It’ll be close, but not close enough for Ottawa.
Toronto in six.
• • •
The Rayside Balfour Sabrecats of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey Association swept the Dryden Ice Dogs in the best-of-three Dudley Hewitt Cup final last weekend and now move on to the Royal Bank Cup for a shot at the national junior ‘A’ hockey championship this weekend.
The Sabrecats, winners of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey Association, needed double-overtime in last Thursday’s opener to beat the SIJHL champion Ice Dogs 4-3.
They wrapped up the series with a 7-3 win on Friday.
The series signalled the first for the Ice Dogs, who represented the inaugural SIJHL.
• • •
The annual Muskie spring football camp will be held May 27-31 and June 3-7. This year, the camp strictly will be for students looking to try out for the ‘A’ squad.
Students in grade seven and eight are welcome to attend the camp as spectators.
For sign-up information, call ‘A’ head coach Bob Swing at 274-4656.
• • •
A big under-17 hockey prospects camp is set for this weekend in Thunder Bay. Two local Bantam players—Brett Perrault and Kevin Tysz—will be among the 46 participants trying for a shot at making the under-17 Ontario team.
• • •
Steve Arpin’s modified racing season began last weekend at a huge turnout of 150 cars in Minneapolis. The defending Bor-derland Racing Association points champ started last but earned a second-place finish in his heat race and hung on for fifth-place in the feature.
The event was part of the WISSOTA racing circuit.
The Association’s annual “meet-and-greet” car show will be held this Saturday at the Canadian Tire parking lot. Its opening night of racing goes May 18 at the Emo Speedway.

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