1. What will your team need to do to beat the New Jersey Devils?
Cam Ward needs to outplay Martin Brodeur. As long as Ward plays well, or as long as Brodeur is beatable the series shouldn't be too hard to win.
I mean, the Canes outplayed the Devils in all of the regular season matchups this year. As long as they translate that winning formula to the postseason, the Devils will have to work a lot harder than the Canes to win games in this series.
2. What would need to happen for New Jersey to win?
New Jersey would need to score more goals than the Canes in four out of seven games.
Seriously. If the Devils score multiple goals early and then pull back into their "let's guard Brodeur" mode, then it will be difficult for the Canes to come back from that deficit (see: last regular season game). But, if the Canes can get into an offensive groove, I don't envision the Devils being able to match it. (i.e. If the game is going to be a shootout, New Jersey will lose.)
3. Fan Favorite
Chad LaRose is without a doubt the fan favorite of Caniacs. He works hard all the time and gives everything that he has on any particular game night. You watch this guy play, and you just want him to score - not because of any flashy offensive talent, but because you just want to see him rewarded for all the heart he contributes to the team.
Some other names that bring joy to the Caniac's heart: Tuomo Ruutu (if it's a home game, we're probably not "boo-ing" it's "Ruuuuuuuuu-ing"), Eric Staal (our superstar), Erik Cole (best power forward evah!), and Anton Babchuk (do NOT get in the way of his slap shot).
4. Your team's Goat-to-Be
Hm... this one's not that easy. Earlier in the season, I would have said our Captain Rod Brind'Amour due to his abysmal plus/minus (-30 at one time - Ouch!), but as of late Rod has picked it up a bit.
I'll go with a two-way tie. On offense, I'm going to pick Scott Walker, because he's been playing with his head up his rear-end for the last few games. On defense, I'm going to pick Frank Kaberle . He's been riding the bench for most of the year, and with our defense, that should tell you something right there. I don't believe that he'll get much ice time in the series, but if something happens that forces him to play... I can easily see him doing a stupid defensive play to lose the series.
5. Top storyline
There's a storyline here? I mean, for me, this playoff series is old hat. Every time the Canes get to the playoffs, they play the Devils. And there's not a lot of bad blood in between these teams, either, so there's not a lot of "sizzle" coming in from that angle.
Probably the top storyline is the master-padawan struggle between Cam Ward and Martin Brodeur. In the last playoff series, there was a lot of hype about the rookie Ward facing his childhood idol. Does this chapter end the same way? Or does Brodeur show that he's still got the skills to pay the bills?