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Stanley Cup Challenge Round Three: Pick More Winners than our Experts

Friday, 05.19.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Stanley Cup Challenge Round Three: Pick More Winners than our Experts

For the Semi-Final Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, George Matthews picked three out of four series correctly, while Brian Engblom, Jeff Rimer and Bill Davidge correctly picked just two of four, getting each of the Western Conference winners, while misfiring on the Eastern Conference series.

Of the numerous entries that CBJ.com recieved, one person picked all four series correctly, as Mike Seiter from Marion, Ohio, made four correct predictions and won a free personalized jersey from The Blueline.

For the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Engblom will again breakdown both series. One of hockey's most respected analysts, Engblom joined the Columbus Blue Jackets broadcast team as television color analyst on FSN Ohio in September 2004. The former National Hockey League All-Star and Stanley Cup champion has been involved with the NHL for over two decades as both a player and broadcaster.

Engblom played 11 seasons in the NHL, joining the Canadiens during the 1977 Stanley Cup Playoffs and went on to spend five-plus seasons with the club. During that time, he helped Montreal capture three consecutive Stanley Cup championships (1977-79) and earned NHL Second Team All-Star honors in 1981-82. Engblom also played for the Washington Capitals in 1982 and the Kings (1983-86), Buffalo Sabres (1986) and Calgary Flames (1986-87).

Below is Engblom's anaylsis of the Conference Finals as well as the pick of each of the Columbus Blue Jackets' broadcasters, Davidge, Rimer, George Matthews. Our Expert’s Picks.

Now with just four teams remaining with a shot at the Stanley Cup, lets take a look back at two recent polls of the bluejackets.com family. Before the Stanley Cup playoffs began, CBJ.com did a poll of its readers on who would represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. Of the 889 votes recieved, Anaheim recieved just 29, while Edmonton received 48. A similar poll was put up the following week for the Eastern Conference and of the 382 votes recieved, Buffalo recieved just 65, while Carolina recieved 27.

Disagree with the Columbus Blue Jackets broadcasters? Submit your picks for each series via email, and if you pick more correct winners than Engblom, you will be placed in a drawing to win a personalized Blue Jackets jersey from The Blueline (one will be rewarded for each round). Don't forget to enter before each round and keep checking back to BlueJackets.com to see where you stack up.

Submit my picks! Please include your name, home address and phone number in the entry form. Deadline to submit picks will be Saturday, May 20 at midnight. Limit of one entry per email address.

Western Conference Finals
No. 6 Anaheim vs. No. 8 Edmonton Oilers

An interesting clash of “is Edmonton too tired and banged-up?” vs. “is Anaheim so well-rested, that they’ve lost their edge?”

If Anaheim wins the first two games, I think it will be over quickly. The fatigue factor will kick in against Edmonton. Anaheim will encounter a team that is as mentally tough as Calgary, but much more potent. Edmonton is their toughest opponent , by far, of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are scrappy, talented, relentlessly fast and physical. Their forward lines are well balanced and still have more offense left in them and you’re never sure who will hurt you.

Their defense, led by D Chris Pronger, has been incredible, they are punishing, puck-movers, that block shots better than any other group. Pronger dominates the ice. If you want to see how to play defense in the “new” NHL, just watch him. He virtually never takes a penalty, can not be intimidated, or provoked into taking one, and is a dominant force offensively. Anaheim should give serious thought, as to trying to frustrate hi. He did a near–perfect job against Joe Thornton in the Oilers series win over the Sharks.

Horcoff and Smyth were brilliant and the Edmonton PK was outstanding.

On the other hand, Anaheim is fresh and healthy and that is VERY important. They can play a very frustrating, defensive game and stay patient. They have great speed and a physical edge. I expect them to push the tempo and pound the star players of the Oilers. A long series bodes well for them. G Ilja Bryzgalov has been a huge source of confidence. Edmonton will have to find a way to score on him, early in the series. I wouldn’t be surprised to see J-S. Giguere come back, if Bryzgalov struggles .

Head coach Randy Carlyle has done a terrific job with this team. Even though Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer are very laid-back, talented key-players, don’t think this team isn’t tough minded. Carlyle has driven them really hard all year. His ornery nature has hardened them and has been a big reason they are where they are, right now.

Selanne will have to be patient, he won’t get much room against Pronger. If Anaheim is going to win, they will have to get production from their blueline and their No. 3 and 4 lines.

I still like Edmonton to win the series.

Eastern Conference Finals
No. 2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 4 Buffalo Sabres

This one should be fun to watch, filled with high speed, and highly skilled offenses with two rookie goalies.

Carolina has become a really strong playoff team. Their recovery in the Montreal series sent them to a new level. Rod Brind’amour, Eric Staal, Cory Stillman, and Justin Williams have been their backbone. Many people thought they would die quickly, without Eric Cole, but they were wrong. This team is very good in the face-off circle, which gives them a lot of puck-possession. Brind’amour has given the team an iron will. Staal is just as good in the playoffs, as he was in the regular season, and that is terrific. Williams is fast becoming a star and a much better player than I ever thought he was going to be.

Carolina’s defense has been startlingly strong, they make adjustments very well. They don’t allow many rebound chances and shut off the slot very effectively. Buffalo will need their “A” passing game, to win. This Carolina defense will be tested to the max in this series. Buffalo has moved the puck better than any team in the playoffs. All four lines use their skill to the max, they take open ice when it is there and drive their opponents back into their end, keeping them on their heals for long periods of time.

Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff allows them to have confidence in their skill and he doesn’t stymie their creativity and should get a ton of credit for that. The Sabres are a very well-coached team. Chris Drury is a terrific “clutch” player, who has 12 game-winning-goals, in just five playoff seasons, which is extraordinary, and four of those were in overtime.

Daniel Briere and Jean-Pierre Dumont create some of the most beautiful passing plays, you will see this year, or any year, for that matter. Derek Roy has been terrific, as has Jason Pominville and Mike Grier.

Buffalo’s defense is really solid and move the puck better than Carolina’s defense, this may be the ultimate difference, in the series. They block shots extremely well and will force the Hurricanes’ forwards to get their shots away quickly and make strong plays, if they are going to score.

Cam Ward and Ryan Miller are great stories already, two rookies having the time of their lives and playing great in goal. They have already proven their ability to bounce back, after defeat, which is critical.

I like Buffalo’s special teams better than Carolina’s and that is always a key factor. Buffalo was the best road team in the league and Carolina had the best home record in the east. My feeling is that Buffalo can steal a win or two in Carolina.

Buffalo will win this series.

Our Expert's Picks:

Edmonton; Carolina.

Edmonton; Buffalo.

Edmonton; Buffalo.

Edmonton; Carolina.

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