Tuesday, April 24, 2007

NHL Playoffs - Round 2 Players to Watch

All right, on April 11th I wrote a post about which players to watch in round 1 of the playoffs and my prognostications were pretty good.

I told you that Pavol Demitra and Alexei Yashin would disappear, that Pavel Datsyuk would figure out how to score in the playoffs and that Dominik Hasek would stay healthy through round 1. I also told you to stay away from Jaromir Jagr and that Scott Niedermayer would be at the top of the score sheet for defenseman. Hey, I can't always be perfect and I used up a lifetimes worth of luck by marrying my beautiful wife.

Here is my snapshot of players to watch at each position in Round 2.

My top 5 Center Picks:
Daniel Briere
Chris Drury
Scott Gomez
Joe Thornton
Pavel Datsyuk

Disappointments: The Sedin twins are pretty much the only scoring option that the Canucks have right now but don't expect much from them against Detroit.

Surprises: Jason Spezza was outscored by teammate Chris Kelly during round 1. This isn't really a surprise but expect him to rebound in round 2.

Stay away from: I am unsure just how well the EGG line of New Jersey will do against Ottawa's top defensive pairing of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips. Not quite worried about the EGG line getting shutout, but I would expect a serious drop-off in point production. If it wasn't for the power play I would be wary of using any of these guys in my pool (in fact I didn't use any of them).

My top 5 Winger Picks:

Daniel Alfredsson
Thomas Vanek
Zach Parise
Milan Mihalek
Dany Heatley

Disappointments: Again I am suggesting that you stay away from New Jersey's top line of Elias, Gionta and Gomez. Ottawa will surely key in on these three in round 2.

Surprises: Zach Parise and Brendan Shanahan will provide some 2nd line scoring punch for the Devils and the Rangers respectively.

Stay away from: The Detroit vs San Jose series could be a wide open high scoring affair, or it could be tighter than a newly minted choir boys bottom. I would lean towards the top players in the other 3 series and stay away from this one if possible.

My top 5 Defenseman Picks:

Niklas Lidstrom
Chris Pronger
Brian Campbell
Brian Rafalski
Joe Corvo

Disappointments: Wade Redden again, I can also see Mattias Ohlund disappearing in round 2, not because of lack of talent, but simply because the Canucks are going to have difficulty scoring at all against Anaheim.

Surprises: Brian Campbell has already surprised with 2 goals and 2 assists, Joe Corvo and Anton Volchenkov stepped up for Ottawa in place of Redden. Look for Francois Beauchemin to pick it up for Anaheim and both Craig Rivet and Fedor Tyutin to continue to produce in round 2.

Stay away from: The entire Vancouver Canucks defense core. If the front lines aren't scoring the back end won't get any points either.

My top 2 Goaltender Picks: (because who needs 5?)

J.S. Giguere
Ryan Miller

Disappointments: Henrik Lundqvist will come crashing back to earth against the high powered Buffalo Sabres offense.

Surprises: Domink Hasek will stay healthy, again, but lose anyway.

Stay away from: Martin Brodeur and Ray Emery. What? Yeah I know, that's Martin Brodeur we are talking about here. But he didn't play true to form in round 1 and if Ray Emery forgets himself and plays out of his head you could see a round 2 upset. And don't forget that Ottawa has more than just 1 scoring line to throw at the Devils.

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