It's almost time

We're less than two hours away from the drop of the puck of the '05-'06 NHL playoffs, and the excitement is starting to hit me. We've gone without playoff hockey for far too long, and yet, the old phrase absence makes the heart grow fonder seems appropriate, as I'm more amped about this year's Stanley Cup playoffs than I've been in a long time, and not just for the reasons surrounding the Senators.

Driving around the city today doing errands, there is a lot of enthusiasm, very high expectations, and a tad bit of nervous energy. The x factor appears to be Ray Emery, and even though most of you responded positively when I asked if you were confident he could do the job, I sense that isn't the case with a lot of Sens fans.

I get that. I would prefer a healthy Dominik Hasek, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen, and the team has to make the best of the situation. Emery's proven himself to be more capable than many of his netminding peers throughout the league in spite of his inconsistency and I think the rest of the team is strong enough that they only need above average goaltending off the bat.

At some point, they'll need a goalie to steal some games, but by the time that time that stage is reached, Emery will have won a few playoff series, and thus, be oozing confidence. And as we've seen this season, when Emery's poise is at a high level, he's an incredibly goalie to beat.

John Muckler made a comparison today on local radio when asked about Emery. He mentioned that the 1990 Oilers team he coached to a Cup had a goalie with only four games of experience under his belt, and not only did he do the job, he won the Conn Smythe.

The odds are that some goalie will win his first Cup this year, and that he'll do so with very little postseason games to his name before the run. Why can't it be Ray Emery?

Enjoy the game(s).