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Playoff Predictions

I know you didn't ask, but here's how I expect the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs to go. Feel free to challenge my picks in the comment section below.

EAST

Islanders (8) vs. Sabres (1)
Prediction: Sabres in four.
Why: The Sabres are the deepest, fastest and most skilled team I've seen all year. Period. And they've got a more than capable goaltender in Miller. The Isles could get DiPietro back from a concussion at some point soon. But that won't be enough. Shouldn't be close.

Lightning (7) vs. Devils (2)
Prediction: Devils in six.
Why: Lecavalier (league best 52 goals), St. Louis (43 goals) and Richards will put on a good show, but ultimately they won't be able to overcome Brodeur, the best goaltender on the planet. There's a reason Marty's got three rings--he takes his game to another level in the postseason, and I don't expect this year to be any different.

Rangers (6) vs. Thrashers (3)
Prediction: Thrashers in seven.
Why: The Thrash has waited eight years to make it here, and I don't expect them to waste the trip. I do, however, expect this to be the first round's best series because of the combined talent of these teams. Kovalchuk, Hossa and Lehtonen vs. Jagr, Shanahan and Lundqvist. Should be fun.

Pittsburgh (5) vs. Senators (4)
Prediction: Senators in six.
Why: The Sens were the second best team I saw this season in the East. Skilled, deep, disciplined. And when Emery is on, they are tough to beat. If the young Pens can keep the current lineup together, Crosby and Co. will win a Cup or three. Just not this year.

West

Red Wings (1) vs. Flames (8)
Prediction: Wings in seven.
Why: Kiprusoff (seven shutouts) and the Flames are a pretty decent No. 8 seed if you ask me. But Hasek, Lidstrom and the Wings will simply prove to be too much. Personally, I'm wondering whether Datsyuk will get it done this postseason after signing that $46.9 million seven year extension last week. He's only registered three goals in 42 career playoff games.

Ducks (2) vs. Wild (7)
Prediction: Ducks in six.
Why: The Ducks have Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer on D. Need I say more? Remember that 6-1 victory over the Caps back in December? Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom (league-best 1.97 goals against AND .929 save percentage) could be a wild card.

Canucks (3) vs. Stars (6)
Prediction: Canucks in five.
Why: I've got a hunch that this series will come down to goaltending. I'm thinking Luongo will thrive in the spotlight. And we've all seen what happens to Turco when the pressure gets cranked up.

Predators (4) vs. Sharks (5)
Prediction: Preds in seven.
Why: By far the hardest series to pick. Both teams have so much talent. Forsberg, Timonen and Vokoun vs. Thornton, Marleau and Cheechoo. Wow. I just hope I can stay awake late enough to watch this one unfold.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 11, 2007; 9:29 AM ET
 
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