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THN.com Playoff Blog: Don't look back in anger

The Ducks were unable to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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The Ducks were unable to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(IM)PERFECT PREDICTIONS
With three full days off between the second and third rounds of the NHL playoffs, there’s time for a little reflection. With that in mind, out came the THN 2007-08 Yearbook, just to see how, ahem, well we did with our predictions.
 
OK, let’s get the big blunder out of the way right off the top: We picked the Ducks to win it all again and that one’s not looking so good right now. Let’s call the possibility of an Anaheim repeat a long shot at best, and leave it at that.
 
And what about the team that eliminated the defending champions in the first round? Well, we thought an aging Dallas team would experience a swoon and picked the Stars to finish 11th in the tough Western Conference.

Again we were, let’s say, unright in our assumption, as the Stars have been their typically solid selves all season and have plowed through the post-season like a true contender.

It should be noted Dallas was the only team that fooled us in the West: We picked seven of the conference’s eight playoff qualifiers, and were pretty close on the playoff seedings as well, including picking Detroit to win the conference.

The Red Wings, who earned another Presidents’ Trophy for most points in the league, also were the only NHL team we awarded an ‘A’ grade. And, Detroit was given a 6:1 chance in our playoff preview issue, the best odds of the four remaining teams. (Some team from Anaheim had the best odds at 4-1, while Pittsburgh was 10-1, Dallas 20-1 and Philadelphia 40-1.)

That being said, I personally jumped on the Stars bandwagon after they went up two games to none on the Ducks in the first round, and I’m not jumping off now. At least, not until the Penguins bus gets close enough (which likely means the Flyers have a great chance to get to the final).
 
In the East, our Yearbook figured the Penguins for fourth place – they were even better, finishing second in the regular season – and while we thought the Flyers would improve on their last overall performance in 2006-07, we didn’t see them in the playoffs. We thought the Flyers would just miss out and had them pegged for ninth in the East.

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All in all, it wasn’t our most stellar effort on the prediction front this season. But the prognostication game is a tough one to get right, or half-right, even when you mostly know what you’re talking about.
 
With that in mind…Pens in six, Stars in seven.
 
See you in the final.
 
BATTLE OF PENNSYLVANIA II
Call it the Mini-Me version of Pittsburgh-Philadelphia. While the Penguins and Flyers get set to renew their interstate rivalry with Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final on Friday, their American League affiliates are already doing playoff battle.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Philadelphia Phantoms are facing off in the East Division final (the AHL quarterfinals), with the baby Pens leading the Phantoms two games to one.

Both AHL teams feature several players who have seen some NHL action this season, adding an extra flavor to the franchise-on-franchise post-season fight.

In any case, there are some pretty good bragging rights up for grabs if one organization can pull off the AHL-NHL double-double.

THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.

Sam McCaig is The Hockey News' senior copy editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays and his column, From The Point, every second Friday.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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