"The time has come" the Walrus said "to talk of many things: of shoes and ships - and sealing wax - of cabbages and kings"
"Hey", the young oyster asked the Carpenter "was that the 'Bug-eyed Fat Walrus' by Dr Seuss?"
"Of course not", said the Carpenter "the `Bug-eyed Fat Walrus` was Proust!"
"Nonsense" intervened Lewis Carroll "It was Prust, Brandon Prust, the hockey goon-goof from Montreal, not Marcel Proust, the fine French writer".
"Oh heck" replied the Carpenter "quelle est-ce que la difference monsieur! Both were searching for lost time?"
"I observe my friend that you are not only ignorant of French literature but the French language. Can't you see that Prust has no zero, his centre is missing...not to mention his goalie and defence".
"Oh well" said the resigned Carpenter "that`s the price you pay for walking with me....but the oysters are tasty..."
As the last oyster goes over the Carpenter`s tongue he shouts “Hey! Is Hans Christian Anderson not a goalie.”
Well, enough of that nonsense, speaking of cabbages and kings... it's on to Round 2
Ottawa Senators versus Pittsburgh Penguins
A Penguin walks into a bar. He asks the bartender, “Have you seen my brother?”
The bartender says, “I don`t know. What`s he look like?”
Going into the play-offs the prize, should Ottawa win their series against the Habs, would likely be the Pens, a team that many odds-makers and pundits predicted would be the Eastern Conference finalists. Surely, Pittsburgh would take out the newlyweds, the Islanders, in 5 games top. Few however anticipated that numero uno goaltender Fleury would be benched and that old warrior Vukoun would salvage the day and help end the series in Game 6 which took a late third period goal to tie it and then an overtime goal. What then will the Pens do for Round 2? If the Pens don't start Fleury they'd be doing a Cancuklehead, signalling that Marc Andre's days in Pittsburgh are done - another 5 million benchwarmer on the trading block. Even if they go with Fleury, going in ya must give the Sens a huge advantage the way Anderson has been, and is likely to keep, playing. The Senators, due to health of Cowen and Karlsson, have a very respectable defence, which trumps, slightly, the defence corps of the opposition. The one advantage, and it is a huge one, is upfront on the centre ice position and on the wing.
Given recent acquisitions and their already formidable depth of experience, and new life after a shaking opening round, the Pens will be hard to stop offensively. Then there is the illusive immeasurable factor of confidence and cohesiveness. Do you think anyone, on the Sens, feels uncomfortable about their goaltenders? We have, many years, passed, including last year with the Kings, a team hitting its full potential once the dancing starts. By comparison, I picked, successfully, the Sharks over the Canucks. Why? I said that I had seen some disturbing signs leading up to the play-offs. In this upcoming series, I'm of similar mind given how close the Isles pushed and pushed back against the Pens. Have the Pens released it out of their system? Will Fleury rebound? Most teams and pundits always say that the first round is the hardest there is so much pressure on them, especially the favourites, to win. So it is entirely possible that the pens could roll right over the Sens, whom will be happy just to get to a second round. If the Sens can continue to stick to the program - they never quit - and build on their already magical season, the signs are definitely there that this year's Cinderella could be them. For those who love fairy tales.
Ottawa in 6
NY Rangers versus Boston Bruins
Say what: Rangers are down 3-2 in their series against the Caps and then King Henry says enough is enough; fermes the porte, registers two shut-outs and Glen Sather doesn`t have to eat his cigar while having a little chat with Brad and Rick who did nada and dick in the opening round. Then after blowing a 3-1 series, the Bruins must play a seventh game, winners take all, wieners go home. Poor Leaf Nation; up 4-1 in the third period and looking like they`d pull off a minor miracle, the Bruins showed up. Now, you all know I am not exactly a Beantown fan, but that was the most remarkable ending I have ever seen, by a team that did it on sheer pride and guts. For all us lads out there, you can see the fun in pulling your goalie every night!
So who do I like in Round 2? If it goes seven games, we`ll get to see Rene Rancourt singing the American national anthem four times!
It`s evident that the Bruins are banged-up and won`t be as goon-like as maybe they`d like to be. Home ice hasn`t exactly been an advantage to them. The Rangers were a good match-up against the Caps but maybe not so good here. They`re not as gritty as last year`s team and how long can they rely on King Henrik. Ponder. Ponder. Right now it`s a case of injuries and fatigue doing in the Bruins.
Rangers in 6
Once again, we`re heading West, so pack-up the chuck wagon with the bacon, beans and beer, or for the environmentally-conscious, how bout roasted caterpillars. Yes people, to save the planet from environmental destruction, we may be switching from livestock to bugs. Crunchy crickets in a garlic sauce, salted scorpions anyone. Yum.
San Jose Sharks versus Los Angeles Kings
Both teams are on a four game winning streak so something's must give right off the puck drop. The Sharks had a relatively easy time dispensing of the Canucks, somewhat surprisingly. No fuss, no muss, see ya! The Kings lost their first two games before they started to play more like last year's mug masters. The champions are still the champions until someone knocks 'em off. Could it be the Sharks? Maybe, the Sharks can do it, if the Kings go surfing or swimming, in the Pacific. Yet, why did I pick San Jose to get to the Western Final in my hockey pool? It is maybe their year after all those years of close but no cigar. How much longer can Neil Young afford season tickets?
What the skating Sharks proved in the first round is that Neimi can play goal with the best of them and the team is strong down the centre. Maybe they relied a bit too much on Couture and Pavelski but Marleau played very well, as did Jumbo Joe. Raffi Torres brings more than just grit. This series may come down to who gets the best out of their third and fourth lines. LA rolls all four lines, the Sharks not quite as much. Quick is just as fast as ever. The Sharks will be the underdogs here but that might fit their loosey-goosey yet determined attitude. Light travel. Soaking up that California sun, they can almost bike to work for this one! How banged-up are the Kings after a six game series with the punishing Blues?
I do hate to contradict myself, bet against myself but that four game win streak by the Kings is an indication that L.A. is going to make a good run at a second straight conference final appearance.
Kings in 5.
Detroit Red Wings versus Chicago Blackhawks
A contrast if ever there was one. A team, Chicago, who won a Cup a few years ago, re-tooled and here we go again, most people`s choice to be the first Western team to go East this year. Detroit, most thought, remained in early stages of a re-tooling process. Some, ahem, predicted this version of the might red-winged ones wouldn`t even make the play-offs. Once there, I did pick ‘em to knock-off the Ducks but that wasn`t based on much hockey sense. Detroit seems to have re-tooled at rapid speed, replaced Holmstrom`s butt in front fo the opposition net, got the old guard going, and voila, Round 2. Like the Sens in the East, the prize is the first place finishers`, and `finishers is the appropriate word. The question is - how good are the Windy City guys on blades? Yes they did dispatch the Wild in 5 games but was that series the true measure? The Wild lost their numero uno goalie during the warm-up of the first game. Josh Harding almost came to the rescue; he, too, went down. I think that Detroit willed themselves to victory in the Ducks series. Not so here: eager and willing doesn`t get the job done. I`m afraid for Motown hockey fans, Go Tigers Go, will have to suffice moving forward for now. It`s Chelsea Dagger time on Madison Avenue.
Chicago in 5
It was looking like we`d have two Canadian teams moving forward, with the possibility of them meeting in the Eastern Conference final.
Alas, once again, one Canadian team survives to fight the good fight: The Senators. The guys who defied all odds by making the play-offs after suffering so many crucial injuries all year. Now, with the team almost at full-strength, let us all rally behind the bug-eyed boys and a city where something special may be unfolding. Let us forget Matt Cooke and just cook. Put those Penguins in a crock-pot set it to `well-done, served with over-easy eggs. C`mon Ottawa!
Clobber Samson is a highly opinionated sports commentator, especially when it comes to Vancouver "Canucks," of the National Hockey League. Expect no balance in his columns. This is good.
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