Super series

MARTIN BRODEUR -- Specials to SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

The first round of the playoffs provided not only exciting hockey for fans but also a number of surprises.

While the four best teams of the Eastern Conference survived the first round, which is often the most difficult, the four top West teams have been eliminated.

You can never say never in today's NHL.

Here are my impressions of each first-round series:

HURRICANES-CANADIENS -- The Canadiens surprised the Hurricanes by wresting two wins from the start but the Hurricanes knew how to quickly adjust to their game. Rookie Cam Ward stabilized the situation for the Hurricanes in goal. On the goal that eliminated the Canadiens, Cristobal Huet was fooled on this deflected shot. He didn't even come close to catching the puck with his glove. Michael Ryder was the player at fault for this deciding goal.

SENATORS-LIGHTNING -- The Lightning weren't strong enough defensively to beat the Senators' big offensive machine. I have trouble understanding the attitude of coach John Tortorella, who sharply criticized his goalie John Grahame. I saw several goals and Grahame was no more to blame than his defencemen.

DEVILS-RANGERS -- The Rangers tried to play their way but that didn't work and they were swept in four games. My teammates scored eight powerplay goals and three others short-handed. Special teams made the difference.

SABRES-FLYERS -- The Sabres have a dangerous attack and they beat the Flyers to death in Game 6 in Philadelphia. It was inevitable the speed of the young Sabres players got the better of a defensive squad which was lacking mobility. Rookie goalie Ryan Miller looked good in the last two games.

OILERS-RED WINGS -- The Red Wings, just like Nashville and Dallas, had the easiest task at the end of the season. While several teams in the East were ferociously battling to improve their position in the playoffs, the Red Wings were relaxing and they didn't know how to get back the necessary level of emotion against the Oilers. The Red Wings won their games so easily in the regular season that it was difficult to really judge the work of goalie Manny Legace. He didn't meet expectations.

AVALANCHE-STARS -- I was really surprised to see the Avalanche eliminate the Stars, who seemed to have all the required elements to go far in the playoffs. Marty Turco didn't have a good series.

SHARKS-PREDATORS -- Vesa Toskala did good work in the Sharks' net while Chris Mason demonstrated he was not Tomas Vokoun.

MIGHTY DUCKS-FLAMES -- Another rookie goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, was also impressive. Standing 6 ft., 3 in., he has a great presence in front of the net. The Ducks have speed to spare and Teemu Selanne had a great series. The key player of the Mighty Ducks is still my former teammate Scott Niedermayer. He makes the difference. Francois Beauchemin also impresses me.

A good number of young goalies have shone since the beginning of the playoffs. These goalies all played regularly in the AHL during the lockout. When I watch these young goalies, I begin to feel a bit alone in my corner!


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