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CP once again looks into the crystal ball to come up with second-round picks

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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CP once again looks into the crystal ball to come up with second-round picks

The Canadian Press
By:

Here's a look at CP's picks in the second round of the NHL playoffs:

Western Conference

No. 1 Detroit vs. No. 5 San Jose: The Red Wings finally avoided a first-round upset, beating Calgary in six games. One reason is that Detroit is a grittier team than the past few years, fighting back when the Flames tried to intimidate them. Another reason, probably more relevant, is that they've got goaltending. Dominik Hasek wasn't that busy in the first round but made the saves when required.

The challenge in the second round, however, is much more formidable than Calgary. The Sharks will manufacture more shots on goal and more scoring chances than the Flames, led by the two-centre attack of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. San Jose beat a tremendously talented Nashville Predators team in five games in the first round, showing they mean business. We think it's their year.

Prediction - Sharks in six.

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No. 2 Anaheim vs. No. 3 Vancouver: The Ducks survived the first-round upset some had predicted and easily disposed of the Minnesota Wild in five games. The extra rest will prove valuable for a club relying heavily on Norris Trophy candidates Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. The Canucks were pushed to the limit by the Dallas Stars and finally got some offence from the Sedin twins in Game 7.

Vancouver has the obvious edge in goal with superstar Roberto Luongo, but that's about it. The Ducks can score, they have a better power play, and also have a physical edge. Sorry Canucks fans.

Prediction - Ducks in five.

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Eastern Conference

No. 1 Buffalo vs. No. 6 N.Y. Rangers: Is there a hotter team than the Rangers, 17-3-4 in their last 24 games? Certainly not the Sabres, who played their 'B' game in eliminating the New York Islanders in five games in the first round. That's not going to cut it against the Rangers, whose sound defensive game has elevated them to another level from last season.

The goalie battle is a saw off - the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist versus the Sabres' Ryan Miller. Both clubs have dangerous offensive weapons but Buffalo has a deeper club up front, able to roll four lines with confidence.

The Rangers are being picked by many for the upset, and we certainly believe they'll push the Sabres hard. But in the end, the Sabres will show just why they captured the President's Trophy.

Prediction - Sabres in seven.

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No. 2 New Jersey vs. No. 4 Ottawa: Bryan Murray's master plan will be tested in this series. The Senators head coach has spent the entire season begging, pleading, dictating and encouraging his team to buy in to being more responsible defensively. Look no further than Jason Spezza playing the last minute of Game 4 against Pittsburgh in the first round to know how far this Senators team has come.

They're also a tougher team than years past. When Penguins winger Gary Roberts tried to throw his weight around like the old Battle of Ontario days, this time the Senators fought back - and hard.

The defensive-oriented Devils didn't exactly shut down Tampa Bay in the first round, although superstar goalie Martin Brodeur was much better in the last two games.

The difference for New Jersey is that while Tampa was essentially a two-line team, Ottawa - like Buffalo - rolls four lines strong and got offence from all four units against the Penguins. We don't think the Devils can handle that.

Prediction - Senators in six.

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Pierre LeBrun's record in the first round: 7-1.

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CP once again looks into the crystal ball to come up with second-round picks