Habs - Bruins: Two teams that hate each other. Good, because you know what? Someone has to have some emotion about this series. I think the Bruins don't wake up and realize, "Hey, we're still the fricken Bruins!" until sometime later in the playoffs. Besides, isn't Patrice Brisebois still playing for the Habs? Bruins in 5.
Rags - Caps: The NHL has a chance at some decent exposure here with the best and most exciting player in hockey playing against a major market team. Too bad the games are on Versus. A few rodeo fans will tune in only to see some funny game being played on ice and watch for more than a few seconds. Cranky Av fans will watch some games out of curiosity to see how long it takes for Theodore contract a playoff flu again. Still, I love Ovie and hate the Rags. Caps in 6.
Canes - Devils: Along with the hated wheel, the Devils seem to be the team that has weathered the new NHL storm the best. Of course, it helps to have certain "ways" of circumventing the salary cap, usually involving body parts shipped to various locales. Are they still playing hockey in Carolina? Cane fans will unfortunately be searching for games on Speedvision and miss most of the series. Devils in 7.
Flyers - Pens: The battle of Pennsylania will capture the attention of .... at least parts of Pennsylvania. The Pens have star power. The Flyers have some tough two-way players. The Pens, taking a page from a book that Francois Giguere does not own, changed coaches and boosted their season. Pens in 7.
Ducks - Sharks: San Jose, unlike the Avs, hired an NHL coach in the off-season. Also unlike the Avs, they also have this thing called "talent." Even without Brad May, Todd Bertuzzi and Brian Burke (Burke and his merry band of thugs) the Ducks still have a certain douche factor (cough, Pronger, cough Perry) that I can't quite put my finger on. Sharks in 5.
BJs - Wings: This is the first ever playoff series for the BJs. What better way to celebrate it than by beating the most evil franchise in all of sports? Seemingly, this series might be the biggest mismatch of all 8 in the opening round. But I hate the Wings .... have I ever mentioned that? Therefore, with my only hope being that Chris Osgood is Chris Osgood, BJs in 6. And if it happens, free Av tickets to the first MSM headline writer who uses the word "Lick" in one of their series clinching story headlines.
Blues - Canucks: I have a confession to make, I am a Vancouver fan (3rd favorite team, behind 1. the Avs, and 2. Whoever is playing the Wings). So I'll probably watch some of this series and was happy to see that most of it will be on Versus. Having said that, the series could be, in a word, boringashell, if the last painful week of the Av season is any indication. Fortunately, Luongo is French for "I win boring games." Canucks in 6.
Flames - Blackhawks: While the Flames ooze with douchiness, from behind the bench to the ever douchey Dion Phadouche, they also happen to play a style of hockey geared towards the playoffs. Throw in the fact that the Blackhawks are young and have coach Q, this could get ugly for Chitown. Many folks here in Denver (not including me) will be watching this series hoping to see some mop-haired quarterback get beaned with a puck in the Chicago crowd. Flames in 6.