Philly in five

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:12 PM ET


 Oddly enough, the second round of the NHL playoffs appears to be easier to pick than Round 1.

 But that may well be the kind of overconfidence that got the Boston Bruins where they are today.

 RED WINGS VS. FLAMES

 There's a reason that depth is factored so highly as a playoff attribute, and the Calgary Flames may be about to learn that first hand.

 The Flames are a good team but have very little depth and now are hurting on defence.

 Still, they'll make their mark. Miikka Kiprusoff is an excellent goalie and Wings fans remember only too well what happened to their team last year when it encountered great goaltending.

 Also, the playoff scoring blues have popped up again. This year, as last year, the Wings scored only six goals in the first four games.

 Twice in the first round, the Flames were in awe of their situation, and in this round the spotlight will be even more intense. As a result, the veteran Wings should persevere as long as the goaltending is adequate.

 SHARKS VS. AVALANCHE

 The Avs' opening-round victory was something of a surprise, and had a lot to do with unhappiness in the Dallas Stars dressing room.

 The Sharks have no such problem. They're a unified, committed group, fully capable of playing a number of styles. Also, they have physical defencemen, always a requisite for success when you're going against Peter Forsberg.

 Alyn McCauley, an instrumental aspect of both their offence and their defence, is expected to be back in the lineup.

 San Jose also gets an edge in goal. Evgeni Nabokov not only makes the saves, he's excellent at controlling rebounds. And when you're facing the likes of Forsberg, Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay, that's a critical attribute.

 There's nothing wrong with David Aebischer, but he's not as good as Nabokov and that could be the difference.

 LIGHTNING VS. HABS

 Going into the opening round, there was concern that the Montreal Canadiens defence wouldn't be able to handle the big Boston forwards.

 Now, the concern is that it won't be able to handle the speedy Tampa Bay forwards.

 There's some justification for that, especially with Stephane Quintal out. But Mike Komisarek played brilliantly in place of Quintal and this may be the breakout point for his career.

 If the Canadiens are to win this series, they have to get production from more than one line. To put it another way, Michael Ryder has to start scoring, and it might be nice to notice Joe Juneau more than once a game.

 But the reality is that the Bolts have every bit as much speed as the Canadiens and a defence that is better than Montreal's as far as offensive production is concerned.

 The Canadiens will need fantastic goaltending from Jose Theodore to win this series. But Nikolai Khabibulin also appears to be hot.

 FLYERS VS. LEAFS

 Even the most rabid of Maple Leafs fans must admit that Ed Belfour saved the team from a first-round exit.

 That's fine. Belfour is part of the team.

 But can he do it again? The odds are not good for a number of reasons.

 He's going against the coach who knows him best. He's going against a team that is much more committed than the Ottawa Senators.

 He's going against a team stacked with net-crashing forwards and if there's anything Belfour hates, it's getting banged around in his crease.

 The Flyers have bought into the system of coach Ken Hitchcock and, if the first round is a harbinger, finally have the goaltending to go with all their other established attributes.

 The Leafs are coming off a long, tough series and have to face a committed, rested team which handled them well during the season.


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