Get Ready for Round 2

1998 Playoffs

NHL teams

The NHL Stanley Cup playoffs kick into second gear with the Conference Semifinals starting on Thursday. Match-ups are exiting and there is a ton of action to come.

Who would have believed it? Gone are Philadelphia and New Jersey, getting early practice for their golf swing are Pittsburgh and Colorado. This has been the year of the upsets and it may not be over yet.

In the West, the Edmonton Oilers are on a mission. The old Oiler magic is potent once again. Edmonton faces the Dallas Stars who are licking their wounds after a rough series against San Jose. The Stars were the best team in the regular season and are very deep in every position, but the rash of injuries must be worrisome to coach Ken Hitchcock.

Detroit and St. Louis go head-to-head in the other Western series. The Blues are a veteran team that faces dissolution after the season ends due to free agency so the time to win is now. The Red Wings looked very impressive in the latter part of their series against Phoenix.

In the east, the Washington Capitals went a long way to exorcise their playoff demons by not blowing a 3-1 lead. They face the upstart Ottawa Senators, a team of young stars trying to reach their potential. Both teams come to series with a red-hot goalie. Washington's Olie Kolzag and Ottawa's Damian Rhodes were team MVPs in the first round.

The Montreal Canadiens will have to use their speed to combat the defensive-minded Buffalo Sabres who showed surprising offensive power against very confused Philadelphia. The Habs' defense is as big as the Flyers' but much more agile. Buffalo will have to get top performance from Dominik Hasek, which he without a doubt will provide.

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