It's down to the wire

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Morrissey is poised to win it all using a very strange system to pick the winner

And so this battle of the alleged sports brains has instead evolved into an exercise fraught with mediocrity.

With a single playoff series to go, three staffers are in the running for the coveted crown as The Tely's in-house NHL playoff visionary supreme.

And so this battle of the alleged sports brains has instead evolved into an exercise fraught with mediocrity.

With a single playoff series to go, three staffers are in the running for the coveted crown as The Tely's in-house NHL playoff visionary supreme.

Robin Short, Kenn Oliver and guest forecaster Alisha Morrissey are all 7-7 heading into the final round starting tonight.

Brendan McCarthy and John Browne are out of the running at 6-8. Both McCarthy, who conveniently has gone missing, and Browne faltered miserably, like their beloved Boston Bruins.

Coincidence?

With Short and Oliver both going with the Flyers, and Morrissey, from the news department, picking the Hawks, there is an opportunity by Morrissey to become only the second prognosticator from outside the sports department to secure the overall title.

Given Morrissey's and Tely copy editor Debbie Squires's adept forecasting, and the valiant efforts from former Tely photographer Rhonda Hayward and Story Editor Pam Frampton, the sports department's scribes should spend less time pouring over the stats and more time looking a tea leaves.

Philadelphia vs Chicago

McCarthy: It's been a mixed-up, not-at-all-according-to-script playoffs and that has made a mockery of more than half my choices to date.

Having said that, it's been a while - from opening round right through - since there has been so much interest in the playdowns. Granted, a lot of that has Canadiens' magical run, but I believe it's also because in any given game, any given series, there was no given. Anyone really could win ... and often did.

In other words, it's been fun.

The final should be fun, too. Two great hockey towns with two teams so similar - depth at forward, stud defencemen and goalies playing over their heads.

Home ice hasn't meant much to date this spring, but I think it just might in this one.

Chicago in seven.

Oliver: This is what I love about the playoffs. From start to finish, nearly every series has been a mismatch, heavily favouring the other team. Montreal versus everyone in the East, and the top seeds rolling through in the West. That the finals end up the same way is a blessing.

And with both teams playing smart, heads-up, gritty hockey, I don't think fans could ask for a better final.

Except for the Habs fans, to whom I say, "Ole! Ole! OLEIGHTON!"

It's been a good break for both teams, so it will be interesting to see who can carry the momentum.

Philly proved against the Habs and Bruins they can steal games on the road. If they can steal a game or two in Chicago, the series is theirs to lose.

Philadelphia in seven.

Short: I give up.

Who would ever think the NHL's two goalies left standing - and haven't we heard over and over again the importance of playoff goalkeeping - are Antti Niemi and Michael Leighton???

So the long and short of it is this: I nave no idea who's winning this series. But if I'm forced to contribute opinion, let's consider this: Michael Leighton is still the journeyman who wasn't exactly overly tested by the Bruins and Canadiens.

Philadelphia cannot match Chicago in pure talent. Then again, there's a lot to be said for the gritty play of Flyers Mike Richards and Chris Pronger, who looks to have found the fountain of youth.

Of course, Dustin Byfuglien is proving to be an immoveable force. But Daniel Briere and Claude Giroux and now Jeff Carter are offering a solid supporting case. Still, Jonathan Toews may be the best player ion these playoffs so far.

Oh, I don't know ...

Philadelphia in six (just don't ask me why)

Morrissey: I let the savvy Ziggy Stardust choose my hockey picks for me. My cat has watched every game with me, though he does frequently fall asleep in my lap. But I fill him in on what he missed when he wakes up.

So I drew little pictures of an Indian and a Flyers logo, and let him paw the winner.

He quickly chose Chicago.

I choose six games.

Chicago in six.

Browne: I can't win this stupid contest now, so I'm picking Chicago Blackhawks simply because that's the team I'd like to see win the Stanley Cup while my poor Bruins are golfing somewhere.

By the way, I don't appreciate Morrissey using some sort of feline voodoo to make her final pick, but...

Hey, it's been a crazy, upredictable post season. The final could be a classic or it could be a blow out. I'm guessing the latter.

Chicago in five.

Organizations: NHL, Flyers, Bruins Habs Chicago Blackhawks

Geographic location: Chicago, Philadelphia, Montreal

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