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Dave Strader's Playoff Blog

Monday, 04.9.2007 / 11:35 AM ET / News
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Dave Strader\'s Playoff Blog
Hello once again Panther fans!

Let me begin my first playoff blog by thanking all of you fans who have been so supportive of our efforts on FSN Florida. While this season didn’t produce the playoff position that we had all hoped for, I think the signs shown by the team and the organization in the second half of this season point to an exciting and news filled summer.

For sixteen teams, the quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup begins this week and I’ll be on the road covering several series. I’ve been very fortunate to work for NBC and Versus in addition to my duties covering the Florida Panthers. In round one of the playoffs, I will be covering games for both networks….here’s a little preview of what lies ahead for me this week.

I begin my playoff work on Versus with games one and two of the Vancouver Canucks-Dallas Stars series on Wednesday and Friday. Of course, Wednesday night will be the first career playoff game for Roberto Luongo. What’s ironic about this assignment is that my partner will be another former Panthers goaltender…John Vanbiesbrouck! Beezer has been doing some TV work for HD Net and Versus during the season, but this is the first time we’ve worked together. John will add some great insight to the pressures that goalies face in the playoffs and no current NHL goalie knows more about that than the guy Luongo will face at the other end of the ice, Marty Turco. Turco has turned in some of the best regular season performances in recent NHL history, but he has failed to play up to that level in post-season action. In four playoff years, Turco has lost three of four playoff series with an overall record of 8 wins and 14 losses. His goals against average is also about a half a goal higher in the playoffs than it is during the regular season.

This has all the makings of a low scoring, grind-it-out type of series. I’m giving the edge to the Canucks because this one could go to a game seven at GM Place.

After Friday’s game in Vancouver, I’m catching a red-eye back to the east coast for a Saturday afternoon match up on NBC…the Thrashers hosting the Rangers in game two of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Atlanta is appearing in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history and GM Don Waddell made some of the boldest moves at the trade deadline (Keith Tkachuk, Alexei Zhitnik, Pascal Dupuis and Eric Belanger). The Rangers were boosted by the acquisition of Sean Avery and the goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist down the stretch. This is one series where I can see the lower seeded team coming out on top. I’m going with the Rangers in six games

I’ll have a day to recover in Atlanta before heading back to the west coast and picking up games three and four of the San Jose-Nashville series next Monday and Wednesday on Versus. This match up of the four and five seeds should be a dandy. Like the Pittsburgh-Ottawa series in the East, a Stanley Cup contender will be eliminated in the very first round. I picked San Jose to go to the Stanley Cup Final during our last FSN telecast in Carolina, so I’m going with the Sharks in this one….in six hard fought games. Joe Thornton against Peter Forsberg…Jonathan Cheechoo up against Paul Kariya…and both teams with solid goaltending tandems! This is a series you don’t want to miss.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back with an update this weekend.

Dave Strader


1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54


J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
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