With some first round playoff series already at or near a close, I would be remiss if I did not throw in my two cents about both the NBA and NHL playoffs. Without any more dangling conversation, here is what I have noticed so far.
Penguins vs. Flyers (Pitt leads 3-1)
As much as I would like the Flyers to win, and as much as I think that they are capable of winning still, they will bow out in 5 to Pittsburgh. Why you ask? Because they are the highest paid team in hockey! Being the highest paid team really burned the Fly guys at the trade deadline as they had to release two guys just so that injured Danny Briere could return to the roster, and because they could not acquire a big time defenseman like Jay Bouwmeester to protect their weak goalies. Speaking of weak goalies, did anyone see the article a little while ago about the Flyers' problem over the years always being goaltending? Bravo to whomever wrote that. You beat me to the punch. If the Flyers are serious about winning a Stanley Cup, they need to address the goaltending problem first. They always have a starter who sucks and ends up getting replaced by the backup who gets hot toward the end of the season, then chokes in the playoffs. See: Roman Cechmanek, Brian Boucher, Robert Esche, Sean Burke.
Celtics vs. Bulls (Series tied 1-1)
Young versus old in this matchup. The Celtics should be very glad that they won the championship last year because I seriously doubt that they will win another one with this core of guys. The window is closing very fast on Garnett, Pierce and Allen. Last year was special for them in that they all won their first NBA title. But the honeymoon is over. With the injuries that the C's have racked up, I see the Bulls winning this one in six.
Nuggets vs. Hornets (Denver leads 2-0)
The Nuggets made the trade of the century this season when they got Chauncey Billups for mercurial guard Allen Iverson. Billups is a proven winner and can lead a team. AI, though I love him, is a selfish guy and needs an unselfish cast around him in order to succeed. The Nuggets are clearly reaping the benefits of that trade while the Pistons are on their way to being swept out of the playoffs by the Cavs. Very interesting how those two teams changed due to that trade. I like the Nuggets to make some serious noise and challenge the Lakers in the Western conference. Maybe we will see a pothead's dream of Nuggets vs. Blazers sometime in these playoffs as well.
Sixers vs. Magic (Series tied 1-1)
This has been a great series so far. The Sixers are exercising the Ewing Theory without Elton Brand this year and are poised to give Orlando a run for their money. A guy I wish the Sixers would play more is Donyell Marshall. He was huge in game 1's 18 point comeback win and can really add another dimension to the offense with his 3 point shooting. Put him in Tony! Look for this series to go either way in 7. Should be good to watch.
Capitals vs. Rangers (NY leads 3-1)
The Rangers could be the most dangerous team in the NHL Playoffs. With John Tortorella as their new head coach they've got a guy with championship experience, and Sean Avery has given them a real shot in the arm. Couple these two things with the fact that Henrik Lundqvuist is playing out of his mind and you've got trouble. Ovechkin has been shut down so far with only one goal in four games. Looks for New York to finish the job in game 5.
Sharks vs. Ducks (Ducks lead 2-1)
Substance over style in this one. The Sharks won the President's Trophy and pretty much coasted along all season. Now they are getting their asses handed to them by a team that has won a championship before and wants to do it again. The Sharks are in trouble here. Looks for this series to go 7 though, with the Ducks pulling it out in my opinion. Gordon Bombay could be the difference maker here.
Who says the NBA and NHL are boring? Who says that a 16 team playoffs is stupid? Well, a lot of people do. But in these series, we have seen some great games and some very interesting sub plots that have arisen. The conclusions should be very exciting and I look forward to watching them. If they are televised...