The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Blackhawks will win it all, columnist says

    Danielle Ryan

    Let’s start with the obvious: The Minnesota Wild aren’t in the Stanley Cup playoffs. But that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t pay attention to what is the most exciting battle for a championship. Yes, it is better than March Madness.

    Could this finally be the year Alexander Ovechkin wins the Stanley Cup? Will the Penguins face the Red Wings again for a third straight year with the championship on the line? Could the San Jose Sharks not choke for once?

    Starting in the Eastern Conference, there is no reason to think all the top seeds won’t advance. Although the No. 7 Philadelphia Flyers own the season series over the New Jersey Devils, it’s hard to bet for Flyer goalie Brian Boucher when the Devils goalie is the NHL’s all-time winningest goalie.

    The same goes for the No. 3 seed Buffalo Sabres, where their opponent, No. 6 seed Boston Bruins, own the season series. But betting against Sabre’s goalie Ryan Miller, especially after his amazing Olympics performance, wouldn’t be warranted. The Washington Capitals, the No. 1 seed, will easily win their first round matchup against the Montreal Canadians, and Sid the Kid will have no problem propelling the Pittsburgh Penguins into the second round as they face off against the injury rattled Ottawa Senators.

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    In the second round then, it would be a matchup between Sid the Kid and Ovechkin, to the delight of hockey fans everywhere. The Capitals may look like the better team and may have gotten Barry Melrose’s endorsement to win the championship, but the Penguins are the better team and its hard to doubt Crosby when its crunch time. Case in point: this year’s Olympics and last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

    With the Penguins-Capitals matchup being all about offense, the Devil’s-Sabres matchup would be all about defense. Although the Devils have the winningest goalie in NHL history, it also means by this time he will likely be tired. Sabre’s goalie Miller will be fresh and thus propel his team to a matchup with the Penguins. Look then for the Penguins once again to reach the Stanley Cup finals for a third straight year.

    In the East, the No. 1 seed San Jose Sharks won’t have an easy time against the Colorado Avalanche as the season series between the two was split. Despite the Sharks’ choking ways in crunch time, they will advance to the second round, especially if they manage to get out to a 1-0 or 2-0 lead in the series. If they go down 0-1 or 0-2 though, look for them to choke once again.

    No. 2 seed Chicago Blackhawks should have an easy time against the Nashville Predators despite their inconsistent goal tending. They own the season series and just have a more talented offense than the Predators.

    The Vancouver Canucks at No. 3 have one of the league’s top goaltenders in Roberto Luongo, so punch them in to advance to the second round in an easy matchup against the Los Angeles Kings. Do the same for the Detroit Red Wings, the NHL’s hottest team right now.

    These results would pit the Sharks against the Red Wings, giving the Red Wings a huge edge. With Sharks coach Todd McKlellen having been an assistant for the Red Wings before joining the Sharks, the Red Wings will know how to beat the Sharks. Plus the Red Wings are more mentally tough than the Sharks and will be able to grind this one out.

    The Blackhawks then would have to put their potent offense against Canuck goalie Luongo. With the Canucks having a lackluster offensive attack, the Blackhawks should advance to once again take on the Red Wings for their third round matchup.

    Look for the Blackhawks though to avenge last year’s loss to the Red Wings by taking this one. The Blackhawks goaltending is a huge question mark, but the Red Wings having an inexperienced goalie in net cancels that out. The Red Wings are good, but their defense will be no match for the Blackhawks’ offense.

    And in the finals, expect the Blackhawks to stick it to Sid the Kid. By this time Blackhawks star Brian Campbell will be back from his injury and will be able to give the Blackhawks an edge in what will be an offensive series. He will be able to thwart the Penguins’ stellar offense, while adding a dimension to the Blackhawks’ offense they lacked up until this point in the playoffs.

    Hansen is a senior print journalism major and Editor in Chief of The Spectator.

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    Blackhawks will win it all, columnist says