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Playoff matchups all set
As of last night, the 2006 NHL playoff matchups are all set. As expected, there are several suprises of teams that did not make it to the postseason and those that did. Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks fall in the former while the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes in the latter. In the Eastern Conference, the Ottawa Senators are matched up against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Sens have struggled since the Olympic break, without future hall-of-fame goalie Dominic Hasek but the defending Stanley Cup champs have also had their struggles in net. The Carolina Hurricanes have proven to be a dynamic team in the regular season and will go up against the hot goaltending in Montreal.
The New Jersey Devils will take up their crosstown rivals, the New York Rangers in what should be a very interesting matchup. The Devils have been red-hot down the stretch while the Rangers have been good all year, with Jagr and company firing on all cylinders. The final Eastern Conference matchup sees the Buffalo Sabres face off against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Sabres started off well but have been inconsistent off late. The Flyers will once again face an opponent that will likely have better goaltending than them.
In the Western Conference, the Detroit Red Wings showed no signs of slowing up in this new NHL. They will take on the eight place Edmonton Oilers in what should be a victory for the Motor City team. The Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche may prove to be a very interesting matchup with the high-powered offence of the Avs going up against the good defensive team from Texas. The Stanley Cup runnersup from last year, the Calgary Flames take on the red-hot Anaheim Mighty Ducks. We all remember the Ducks run into the Stanley Cup finals a few years ago and it seems that Jean-Sebastien Giguere is in similar form. And lastly, the Nashville Predators take on the San Jose Sharks in this fourth vs fifth seed matchup. The Sharks have a killer offense and the Preds are going to be without their top goalie, Tomas Vokun for all of the playoffs.