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An Early Stanley Cup Preview

   by Ben Burns - 05/29/2006

The province of Alberta will be represented for the second consecutive Stanley Cup Final. Two seasons ago, prior to last year's lock-out, the Calgary Flames came up just short in their bid to become the first Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup in more than a decade. The Flames held a 3-2 series lead, but the Tampa Bay Lightning would win Game 6 in double-overtime and eventually take Game 7 by a 2-1 margin.
This year, it’s the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary's northern neighbor, attempting to bring the Cup home to Canada. It appears most likely that the Oilers will face the Carolina Hurricanes. Don't tell that to Buffalo fans though! The Sabres currently trail the Hurricanes by a 3-2 margin in their best-of-seven series. Game 6 goes Tuesday night at Buffalo.
Some Stanley Cup facts and thoughts appear below.
The Oilers are an impressive 8-1 their past nine games and 12-5 for the entire playoffs. During that stretch, the 'under' has gone 9-6-2. A closer look shows the bulk of those low-scoring games have occurred on the road. In fact, the Oilers have seen the 'under' go a profitable 7-1-1 away from home, but just 2-5-1 on the 'fast’ ice at Edmonton.
Edmonton was the dominant team of the mid-1980s. The Oilers won five Stanley Cups, with the first occurring in 1984 and the last taking place in 1990. Though those days are long gone, the memories are still strong and the franchise remains proud.
Carolina doesn't have nearly the playoff tradition that Edmonton does. However, the Hurricanes did manage to reach the Stanley Cup finals just four years ago. The experience wasn't a memorable one, as Carolina lost in five games to the Red Wings.
Carolina has won 11 of its last 14 games and is 11-5 for the playoffs overall. The 'over' has gone 5-4 in nine games at Carolina, but just 2-4-1 when the Hurricanes have played on the road.
Like the Hurricanes, the Sabres have never won a championship. Buffalo lost to Philadelphia in the finals in 1975 and again to Dallas in 1999.
The Oilers and Hurricanes didn't face each other this season. The teams have split seven meetings since 1999, with each team winning twice and three games resulting in a tie. The Sabres and Oilers faced each other once this season. Buffalo took that game by a 3-1 score. However, the Oilers are 4-1-2 in seven series meetings this millennium.
All seven games in the 2004 finals between Tampa Bay and Calgary produced five goals or less. However, the 'over' was a mildly profitable 4-3, as the 'totals' of that series were listed at 4 1/2 with one game dipping as low as four. However, times have changed dramatically since then. We'll likely be seeing a 'total' of six for Game 1, whoever the Oilers end up facing!

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