From Nick Parsons

             The National Hockey League play-offs have arrived and the first round promises something for everyone.  The New Jersey-New York series is likely to be a grinding, low-scoring goaltenders duel while Ottawa-Pittsburgh could see plenty of goals. In the west Anaheim-Dallas has the potential to be a war and Minnesota-Colorado could be a coaching clinic. Well start in the Eastern Conference.  Pittsburgh - Ottawa Pittsburgh learned through the regular season to play a little defence and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been operating at a 920 clip since the All-Star break.  They survived life without Sidney Crosby and discovered Ryan Whitney on defence.  Ottawa discovered mediocrity.  Backing into the play-offs, a dressing room seemingly in disarray, shaky goaltending, and injuries, the Senators are going to have to lean heavily on the emerging leadership of Jason Spezza.  It wont be enough. Pittsburgh wins this one in six. Montreal - Boston It is always scary when one team has dominated another for a long time.  At some point the tide has to turn.  Montreal won all eight games against the Bruins this season and havent lost in eleven going back two seasons.  Some to those losses have been slaughters - three losses by a combines 21-7 score.  But Montreal has larger game in mind and as long as they dont look ahead they should oust the Bruins but not before having a scare. Montreal in six. New Jersey - New York Rangers These teams are practically identical. Both have good goaltending, both have rubbish power plays, both have good penalty killing, both rank at the bottom of the conference in goals for and at the top in goals against.  This series could go seven with each game being decided in quadruple overtime. I think the Rangers will shade the Devils in seven. Washington - Philadelphia Washington Capitals are the little engine that could.  Starting from way back at the trade deadline they produced a furious rush and an explosion of goals from Alex Ovechkin and squeaked into the post-season.  Statistically the teams are close with Philadelphia having substantially better penalty killing.  Washington has better goaltending with Huet and are riding a wave.   Flyers are slower but stronger and could be the better team and I think theyll take it in seven. Over in the West, Detroit takes on Nashville. Detroit was the runaway league champions, again.  They had a bad spell in February when a couple of injuries on defence, including Nik Lidstrom, unsettled them.  At that point the team discovered its goaltending wasnt as good as they thought.  Nashville wasnt supposed to make the play-offs and wouldnt except for a collapse by the Vancouver Canucks.  The Predators surprised and were fourth in conference scoring but tied for ninth defensively.  Their power play is nowhere but penalty killing is good. This could be a decided by whose goalkeepers are the leakier.  Over the season that would be Nashvilles.  Detroit takes this in seven. Dallas - Anaheim The Ducks have size and goaltending as their big advantage for this series.  Anaheims scoring stats are poor but defensively they are a gem.  Dallas was second in conference scoring and no slouch defensively either. The Stars special teams are better too.  The problem for Dallas is two-fold - goaltender Marty Turco being one.  He is likely to come off second best to the Ducks J-S Giguere.  The other is the suspicion Dallas can be had if you keep playing.  Last year they went out in the first round to Vancouver while appearing to be the better team.   This one could be rough and mean and Anaheim wins it, possibly in six hard-fought games. San Jose - Calgary This could be a great series.  Two teams with size, speed, goaltending, some scoring, and shortcomings to master.  The Sharks have for the past several years had the heebie-jeebies in the play-offs.  Smoking hot in the regular season they fall apart in April.  They have excellent special teams and top class defence but dont score much even strength.  Calgary has potentially series deciding goaltending, good scoring, and okay special teams.  Their specialty is playing well at home and tanking on the road.   If both teams knuckle down this could be a fast, rough, entertaining series and San Jose squeaks it. Minnesota - Colorado Pity poor Colorado.  They could be pounded right out onto the golf course.  The Wild were pushed around in last years play-offs by Anaheim and loaded up on goons for this post-season.  Colorado gets to be the first test.  Minnesota has better goaltending and better special teams.  At even strength they are similar.  However the Avalanche will suffer from a size mismatch and goaltender Jose Theodore will likely be run over regularly. 

Colorado will give a valiant effort but Minnesota takes it in five.