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Place your bets! - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1. kingraph (NYR) -3500 8. Dexpsu83 (PHI) +7500 Season series: NYR 4-0 NYR Keys to Victory: This was a unique season for Rangers, focusing on defense more so than usual. Kingraph drafted Eddie Belfour and the Eagle didn't disappoint, setting GDL records for GAA and Shutouts this season and leading the league in Save % with .733. Big Al Iafrate and Alexei Kasatonov held opponents to under 9 shots a game. A staunch defense has been the key to this team's season. Offensively, the focus all season was on Pat LaFontaine's assists record, finishing with 190 assists and leading the team in scoring, but that is not expected to happen in the playoffs. Kingraph will be able to put up some goals in the playoffs, but will that defense continue to hold up for a cup run? PHI Keys to Victory: The Flyers put together a nice high-flying combo of Modano and Tikkanen this season, and they need to capitalize on that speed, size and shot power to keep their opponents on their heels. Dexpsu83 hasn't been able to exploit them enough this season, but that duo can be dangerous when they are clicking. The reigning Classic B-league champ has the chops to play, but it will be a tall order to keep up with the top guys in GDL. Prediction: NYR in 4 The NYR outscored PHI 21-3 in their 4 regular season games, which leaves little hope for a Philly upset in round 1. Expect the NYR to continue their tight defense, possession play, capitalizing on scoring chances on their way to a 1st round sweep. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2. HABS (MTL) -500 7. Brutus (RCK) +2000 Season Series: MTL 2-0 (1 OT) MTL Keys to Victory: The HABS put up the 2nd best GA/G this season at a flat 3, while scoring over 5.3 to a great 44-12 regular season record. Luc Robitaille leads the team in scoring, and can snipe them in with his great 4-6 shot. HABS can also catch you with speed by using Benoit Hogue, and with his crafty pass shooting skills, you have to stay on your feet at all times. HABS also drafted Scott Stevens this season, really trying to exploit his 4 speed and CB checking skills. Stevens, along with a top-notch GC skill with Soderstrom, makes for a formidable defense. HABS have a chance to go deep, using that balance of offense and defense. RCK Keys to Victory: Rockford went big on defense this season too, drafting the #1 goalie in Patrick Roy and #1 Dman in Ray Bourque (arguably). Somehow Brutus even managed to bring in Super Mario to Center this squad, but ultimately could not generate enough offense for him this season. Mario finished under 2 points/game, and the IceHogs finished with a higher GAA than GFA, which is always a bad sign. It's unlikely that the IceHogs go deep in these playoffs, but they can pull off an upset if they catch fire. Roy can steal a game or two, while Ray and Mario can light up just about any player with checks. Prediction: MTL in 5 Rockford was able to take one of the two regular season matchups into OT, but despite losing, the boxscore looks close. The other game was a 7-1 Montreal blowout. While I think Brutus can make things interesting each game, and even steal a couple, the HABS are playing strong and will be too much in a 7-game series. HABS in 5. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3. Vocally Caged (FLA) -110 6. BoKnowsNHL94 (HFD) +180 Season Series: Tied 1-1 FLA Keys to Victory: Fleury, Makraov, Eklund….that's old school GDL! This lightweight team is driven by the human canonball Theo Fleury, and his wingers performed nearly identical this season, both finishing with 52 goals each, and 57 aand 61 assists each. While Theo can run amok, his 3 accuracy can drive you mad. Sean Burke is a bit of a challenge in net, so VC must play good GC! HFD Keys to Victory: Sakic, Verbeek, Bonda, Gusarov, Svoboda…that's old school GDL! Hartford put up a very similar amount of goals/game as FLA (4.60 vs 4.68), but the goals against were the big Achilles heel for Hartford, giving up a terrible 4.76 a game. Ron Hextall finished the season with a .595 save percentage, lowest of all the playoff goalies and below his historical average of .634. Bonda also finished 3rd in points, behind Verbeek, which suggests Bok wasn't able to fully utilize Bondra's great speed. Hartford can score enough goals to win games, but they gotta plug up all those defensive holes if they hope to have any chance of moving on. Prediction: FLA in 6 Old school teams in an old school rivalry! Two members of the Pittsburgh crew will face off in what will surely be an entertaining matchup, especially if it happens live. I predict they will go toe to toe on goals as well as witty quips. Ultimately I think Florida moves on, unless Bo can really get his goalie control together and pull off the upset! - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 4. Zalex (CGY) -325 5. Texas Pachyderm (DAL) +400 Season Series: CGY 3-1 CGY Keys to Victory: DINO. Any '94 player knows that word means your goalie is about to be ripped apart by rocket slappers and one-timers! Dino accounted for over 56% of Calgary's offense, and 3x more goals than the next leading scorer, Glenn Anderson. For some reason Zalex could not get Robert Reichel to gel in Calgary's lineup, so Anderson and Zelepukin get the icetime with Dino. Not terribly exciting, and why the focus remains on #22. Zalex plays a patient game, not taking many shots, but capitalizing on his opportunities. He finished 2nd with a 47.2% shooting efficiency. Leschyshyn and Schneider are Zalex lifetime contract guys on Defense. Zalex is one of the top GC players in the game, but he didn't have a strong regular regular season in save % and GAA. I expect that to get better with a playoff focus and Zalex to threaten any opponent he faces. DAL Keys to Victory: Dallas put together a very talented squad with Recchi, Savard and Russ on F, Russell and Sjodin on D, and Bob Essensa in net. If you sleep on Texas, he's going to come out firing and he has the ability to score goals quickly. Texas also plays a fast, chase'em defense, which can suffocate opponents. However, that can also cause him to get out of position and lead to scoring chances. Texas needs to continue to work on his GC skills, as that is probably the weakest part of his game. That comes with time. Also, Texas has to keep up that intensity for all 3 periods and all games of the playoff series. The Stars can keep up with the best of them, but they have to stay hot all game to win it all. Prediction: CGY in 6 Dallas will make every game close and apply a lot of pressure on Calgary. With Zalex's relaxed offensive style, Texas can really take advantage if he catches Zalex waiting too long. However, if he gets out of position, few people are better at capitalizing opportunities than Zalex. Texas will have to play flawless to get past Zalex, but ultimately I think a few mistakes here and there will cost him the games. Calgary moves on in 6 in some close ones. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1. Pesky Plabax (ARI) -750 8. FlamingPavelBure (SEA) +300 Season Series: ARI 2-0 (1 OT) ARI Keys to Victory: The defending champion heads into the playoffs finishing the season with an absurd 7.14 GF/G average, over 4 GDif. and a 50-6 record! With an incredibly balanced offensive attack between Oates, Ysebaert and Bradley, this team is very difficult to defend as anyone can (and will) score. A studly defense in ZZ and Murphy further strengthens this team. Hasek might be considered the weak spot in net, but Plabax's GC gave Hasek a great .694 save % and 3.18 GAA on the season. Really, there's no reason why Arizona wouldn't be the favorite in every matchup as Plabax has proven he's the guy to beat these days. SEA Keys to Victory: This is not your typical 8th seed. FlamingPavelBure takes over for EA at the very end and went 9-6 to finish the season and earn the last playoff spot. FPB has historically been a very tough competitor, and with Steve Yzerman at his disposal, he will put up some big scores. I haven't played FPB recently, so I can't say much else, but he's a known veteran competitor. Prediction: ARI in 5 The last time these two met in the playoffs was in GDL XI, where Plabax won in 5. Plabax has only gotten better since then, and now FPB has taken over a team he has not drafted. Hard to see a way in which FPB wins this one. He may squeak out a game, but not more than that. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2. IceStormNHL94 (BUF) -1500 7. Lupz (SJS) +3000 Season Series: BUF 2-0 BUF Keys to Victory: A perennial threat to the title every year, IceStorm is a super dangerous opponent when he's focused in the game. He has top level GC, leading Jon Casey to a 3.14 GAA and tremendous .705 save %. The Sabres offense is led by superstar Alexander Mogilny, who scored over half of the team goals in the regular season. The Buffalo Sabres boast the 2nd highest GDif of the regular season, which is a strong indicator of their strength. Stopping Mogs is a tough task, you won't be able to contain him all game, and Ice uses Damphousse/Davydov very well when Mogs is not around so you have to focus on everybody. With their great agility, Gord Murphy and Glen Wesley fit IceStorm's ideal version D-men. Also, when James Patrick is your 3D, you know you have a solid dman group. Ice just has to play focused and he can beat anybody. SJS Keys to Victory: A star-studded roster that includes Klima, Fedorov, Borshevsky, Steve Smith and Chris Chelios, the San Jose Sharks have all the talent in the world to score goals and play great defense. Andy Moog minds the net, and has won 3 GDL cups as well. The key for this team is to drive Klima and Fed down the throat of your opponents, keeping them on their toes. However, the Sharks were scoring under 4 goals a game and giving up close to 5, so trouble is ahead here. Lupz has to figure out how to get better at both ends of the ice for the Sharks to have any chance at advancing. Prediction: BUF in 4 IceStorm is just too skilled in defense and with Mogilny on offense, he is a nightmare to play against. I can't see Lupz putting enough together to beat Ice, even with that roster. Buffalo sweeps. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3. Uncle Seth (LAK) -650 6. JackVandal (HAM) +650 Season Series: LAK 4-0 LAK Keys to Victory: Seth put up his usual strong stats this regular season and is always a formidable opponent in the playoffs. His run 'n gun style can be hard to handle, especially if the team is hot, and that shows with his over 6 goals per game this season. Similarly on defense, Seth goes aggressive and chokes out your offense. The Kings have incredible diversity in scoring, with Gartner, Juneau and Murphy. Seth will use anyone who is open to fire and score. Seth does give up more goals than he'd like, nearly 3.48 per game and the Beezer has a pedestrian .641 save %. Still, when focused, Seth is as dangerous as they come. HAM Keys to Victory: An Uncle Seth protégé in playing style, JackVandal also does the run 'n gun style of offense and defense. Jack can create scoring opportunities with his game, but the big hindrance is his ability to finish. A breakaway will end up becoming a complicated missed one-timer, instead of just floating it past the netminder. GC needs some work as well. If JackVandal can enhance those skills, we're seeing a future contender emerge. Until then, he's gonna middle around, tough to advance. Prediction: LAK in 4 The Kings outscored Hamilton 32-9 in their 4 regular season games. Anytime you're averaging 8 goals a game and giving up a shade over 2, it doesn't seem likely you will lose. LA dominates in 4. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 4. Zeppelin55 (EDM) -600 5. Skip (MNS) +1200 Season Series: EDM 4-0 EDM Keys to Victory: The perennially under appreciated GDL pick Jimmy Carson is no longer a secret! Zeppelin drafted Carson and he led the team in goals and assists, averaging 3.5 points per game and shooting 47.3% (6th highest out of the top 20 goal scorers this season). Helping out matters is the Great One, #99. Unexpectedly, Gretzky has almost as many shots as Carson this season, using him more as a goal scorer than pure set up man. Zeppelin is not a proficient pass-shooter, but plays a solid game, applying pressure to the net. Edmonton may also boast the best d-man pair in Coffey and Ellet (sounds like Freydey???)! The big weakness is Dominic Roussell in net. A 3.82 goals against and .635% save will require the Oilers to score more to win games out! MNS Keys to Victory: If you had to pick a focus of a team, Jeremy Roenick is a good choice! The God of '94, Roenick is definitely the star of this team. JR accounts for 69% of the teams goals this season, the most lopsided of all the playoff teams, and took a whopping 462 shots! Kovaleno and Neely provide similar output on the wings. Cote and Howe provide a ho-hum defense, but that is good enough to handle most opponents. Minnesota will live and die by JR, which can work for some opponents, but will allow the top playoff teams to shut him down. Skip has to diversify to win. Prediction: EDM in 5 While Edmonton shouldn't have a problem in this series, I can see Minnesota sneaking out a win if JR gets hot one game and obliterates Roussell. Otherwise, I see Zeppelin clogging up JR. ODDS TO WIN THE CUP 1. Pesky Plabax +200 2. kingraph +300 3. IceStormNHL94 +450 4. HABS +500 5. Uncle Seth +700 6. Zalex +1000 7. Vocally Caged +1400 8. Zeppelin55 +2500 9. FlamingPavelBure +3000 10. BoKnowsNHL94 +3000 11. Brutus +3500 12. JackVandal +3750 13. TexasPachyderm +4000 14. Lupz +4000 15. Skip +5000 16. Dexpsu83 +7500