• RSS

Assistant Coach Pierre Groulx's Conference Final Picks

Thursday, 05.10.2007 / 10:13 AM ET / News
Florida Panthers
Share with your Friends

Assistant Coach Pierre Groulx\'s Conference Final Picks
Florida Panthers assistant coach Pierre Groulx breaks down the conference finals…

Western Conference:

No. 1 Detroit vs. No. 2 Anaheim

Anaheim got through Vancouver with time to rest bumps and bruises. Defensemen Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer also got much needed rest for this series. Detroit had to battle a bit harder to fend off San Jose. What Detroit needs to do in order to beat Anaheim is have the likes of Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom and Daniel Cleary pound those Anaheim defensemen as much as they can. Anaheim will have to get production from their secondary scorers (Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Penner, Corey Perry and Rob Niedermayer). As I say this, it becomes evident that the team that gets more production from their lesser known players will have a significant impact on the series.

Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere has played well so far and Red Wings veteran Dominik Hasek was good when he needed to be. This is a very tight series to predict but I think Giguere will be the difference in this series.

Key Players

Detroit – Gritty players mentioned above need to disturb Giguere, Pronger, Niedermayer Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin

Anaheim – Other than the three d-men mentioned, Sean O’Donnell, Joe Dipenta, Kent Huskins and Ric Jackman all need to play well and contribute when called upon.

Crystal Ball: Anaheim in six

Eastern Conference

No.1 Buffalo vs. No. 4 Ottawa

This will be a great series. Ottawa has played great hockey so far in these playoffs, easily going through Pittsburgh and New Jersey. Their top line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson has been very, very dangerous and their supporting cast has been tremendous. Their defense led by Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov have been helping Sens goalie Ray Emery out in every situation possible and Emery has made the saves he has needed to make.

Buffalo has had two different series where they were tested by a defensive system against the New York Islanders and a powerful offense against the New York Rangers. The Sabres have not scored that many goals…yet. They were pushed against the Rangers but prevailed with a gutsy effort in game six. The comeback of C Paul Gaustad on the fourth line has helped them immensely. The forwards need to help shutdown Ottawa’s top line by helping their own defenseman with good backchecking, minimizing turnovers and limiting Sens odd man rushes. Let’s not forget the Senators have a lot to prove and I feel they have learned a lot from last year.

This might be the most anticipated series in the NHL playoffs in a long time. It will be tight and there is a lot of history. Chris Drury and Chris Neil, Andrew Peters and Ray Emery, all have something to prove to one another since the two teams had a brawl at center ice earlier in the season. Even the coaches, the Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff and Ottawa’s Bryan Murray, had a shouting match while on their respective benches. The fans will play a major role in this series as both cities are starved for a championship.

On the ice, there isn’t much to tell these two teams apart as both are very balanced, offensively, defensively and in net.  

Key Players

Ottawa – Phillips and Volchenkov need to keep Chris Drury and Daniel Briere off the score sheet and keep helping Emery by blocking shots.

Buffalo – Whoever plays against Ottawa’s top line, these forwards, along with the defensemen, need to limit the amount of points the Sens top trio puts up. As mentioned above, they need to limit turnovers, penalties, and must be aware of the big three in Spezza, Heatley and Alfredsson. Sabres defenseman Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder were put on the Jagr line against New York and should draw the top defensive assignment against Ottawa.

Crystal Ball: This series could go either way but I will have to say Buffalo in seven.




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

FloridaPanthers.com is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and floridapanthers.com are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.