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Morning Mashup: Final Four

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It’s hard to believe the third round is already beginning tonight. Doesn’t it feel like the post season just began and we were experiencing an opening round for the ages? As they say, time flies when your having fun. With the level of play at the highest it’s been in years, there is lots of excitement leading up to the third round, which features two very interesting match ups.

Out west, the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks enter the series as the one and two seeds in the regular season. Both teams play a team game and rely on role players to contribute. I say Canucks in seven.

In the east, the Bruins and Lightning are the forgotten teams, despite sweeping through their opponents in the second round. Tampa Bay will continue to rely on consistent play from its secondary forwards, like Sean Bergenheim, along with solid goaltending from Dwayne Roloson. If they manage to keep Boston’s big guns off the board, I’m confident for Tampa to win in six.

What do you think?

Playoff Links:

NHL final four evenly matched

The Toronto Star’s third round preview.

Bruins, Lightning set to start after long layoffs

Both teams had ample preparation time after sweeping through the second round.

NHL players, fans remember Derek Boogaard, dead at 28

The hockey world mourns the loss of Boogaard, who died suddenly in his Minneapolis apartment.

Islanders ink rookie Grabner to 5-year deal

Grabner will make $3 million per season in new deal.

World Championship Links:

Sweden, Finland to battle for world hockey gold

The gold medal game goes Sunday afternoon.

Hockey Canada head says IIHF losses ‘totally unacceptable’

Bob Nicholson says there are no excuses for a second straight year without medaling for Canada.

Last Night in Leafs Prospects:

The Portland Winterhawks season came to a disappointing end last night after a 4-1 loss to the Kootenay Ice, who secured a spot in the MasterCard Memorial Cup. Although the Winterhawks have a strong squad, the Ice were too much to handle and received excellent goaltending throughout the series. Leaf prospect, left winger Brad Ross was accessed with a 10-minute misconduct at 19:19 of the third period. He recorded 4 goals and 2 assists in 16 playoff games for Portland. Kootenay joins Mississauga and Owen Sound as teams who have already secured a berth in the Mem Cup.

Your Say:

What are your predictions for the conference finals? Which two teams will prevail to play in the Stanley Cup finals? Who are the key players to watch in the Boston/Tampa Bay series that begins tonight?