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There’s no shortage of playoff opinions

Four different networks are gearing up to broadcast the NHL playoffs to the masses

Four different networks are gearing up to broadcast the NHL playoffs to the masses starting tonight and their assortment of experts are already busy making their opinions known.

The San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins are popular picks to meet in the Stanley Cup final.

The Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers also get some love.

No one is under more pressure this post-season than Sharks centre Joe Thornton, the experts say.

And no Canadian team is going to last longer than the Vancouver Canucks, who open up at home tonight against the streaking St. Louis Blues.

“I’m not saying I want them to,” Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry said on a conference call Monday, “because I really like the way they play in Calgary. And I don’t know whether (goalie Miikka) Kiprusoff is too tired or not, but the odds are Vancouver — I’ll say they’ll go the longest.”

TSN has the only other series featuring a Canadian team — Calgary opens at the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow — and the injury-riddled Flames also face an uphill climb to escape the first round.

“The only thing that makes me pause about Calgary is the injury situation going in,” said Ed Olczyk of American broadcasters NBC and Versus.

“Having watched Chicago a fair bit now and having been at their game (Sunday), they’ve just got a lot of good stuff going on. It’s going to be a very tough series for Calgary.”

While Olczyk likes the Flyers to survive the East — they open at the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight — Cherry, Pierre McGuire of TSN and NBC, and Mike Milbury of CBC and NBC pick the Bruins to make it all the way to the final.

The Eastern Conference champions boast the stingiest goaltending tandem in the league, a balanced scoring attack and start off with a Habs team that just squeaked into the playoffs.

Cherry, Milbury and Olczyk are picking the Sharks — who host the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 tomorrow — to emerge from the Western Conference.

McGuire expects the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings — who start play at home versus the Columbus Blue Jackets tomorrow — to play for the title again.

 
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