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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Playoff Preview: Ducks vs. Stars

The Dallas Stars are a very good hockey team. Actually, with the trade-deadline the addition of Brad Richards, they are a downright excellent hockey team, even if their late-season record might not show it. They are loaded with experienced forwards, a solid defense (even with an injured Sergei Zubov), and one of the best goaltenders in the game in Marty Turco. This is a group that plays playoff style hockey –whatever that means. Which is why, in the 2008 NHL Playoffs, the Dallas Stars will…….still not make it out of the first round.

The 2008 Anaheim Mighty Ducks remind me of Ralph Wiggam’s softball team in the Simpsons episode where every few minutes an MLB superstar (Mattingly! Sax!) would walk in and Ralph would get to add him to the roster. The Ducks were a decent albeit unexceptional team at midseason, but then, magically, guess who appeared: Niedermayer! And then…..Selanne! And all of a sudden it became apparent that the Ducks are – to steal from Larry David – pretty pretty good. If you want a barometer for how good this team became, a good reference point is probably how good they were last year with these guys around. The answer to that is engraved on Lord Stanley’s Cup.

So if I’m going to go with the conventional wisdom and pick the better team to win the series –something Detroit fans will tell you doesn’t always happen – I’ve got to pick the Ducks. They might not be good enough to win it all –it’s hard to argue with a Sharks team that only lost 9 road games all season – but they should be able to survive a tough matchup with the Stars. Look for solid shut down play from the likes of Moen, R. Niedermayer, Pahlsson, et al. And look for Chris Pronger to leave his mark on the series…rather than on somebody’s leg.

Prediction: Ducks in Seven

For Illegal Curve, I'm Steve Werier.

Ballhype: hype it up!

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