Player Poll: Who will be top underdog of playoffs?

Updated: April 10, 2006, 10:14 AM ET
The Hockey News

If the New Jersey Devils secure a playoff berth, beating them in the postseason will be no easy feat.

That's the verdict of NHL players who collectively tabbed the Devils as the underdog team that has the best chance in the playoffs. In a poll of 30 players, one from each team, eight (27 percent) named New Jersey as the NHL's top underdog of the playoffs.

Edmonton was close behind with seven votes (23 percent), while Montreal finished in third with four (14 percent).

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Several players pointed to New Jersey's playoff experience and goalie Martin Brodeur as significant pluses for the Devils.

"They've been there before with Brodeur," Detroit goalie Chris Osgood said. "They'd be the team nobody wants to play."

Edmonton got the nod from Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray. "They have a lot of playoff experience," he said. "They're built for the new rules."

Here are the results from each team. Players were not allowed to name their own team and some respondents asked to remain anonymous.

Anaheim Mighty Ducks
New Jersey -- Jeff Friesen

Atlanta Thrashers
Minnesota -- Kari Lehtonen

Boston Bruins
Montreal -- Andrew Raycroft

Buffalo Sabres
Atlanta: "Just because they're changing their game to a more defensive style, but they still have high-caliber offensive weapons. They have so many threats on offense." -- Paul Gaustad

Calgary Flames
New Jersey -- Anonymous

Carolina Hurricanes
Atlanta -- Anonymous

Chicago Blackhawks
Edmonton -- Jim Vandermeer

Colorado Avalanche
San Jose -- Anonymous

Columbus Blue Jackets
Edmonton: "If think they're built to do a lot of damage in the playoffs, if they can just get the goaltending." -- Anonymous

Dallas Stars
Montreal: "They're a hard-working team and I like the way they're playing. Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, those guys can make a big difference in the playoffs.'' -- Steve Ott

Detroit Red Wings
New Jersey: "They've been there before, with [goaltender Martin] Brodeur. They'd be the team nobody wants to play.'' -- Chris Osgood

Edmonton Oilers
Anaheim: "They could be a handful." -- Anonymous

Florida Panthers
Edmonton -- Stephen Weiss

Los Angeles Kings
Edmonton -- Anonymous

Minnesota Wild
San Jose -- Pierre-Marc Bouchard

Montreal Canadiens
Edmonton: "They have a lot of playoff experience. They're a team built for the new rules." -- Sheldon Souray

Nashville Predators
Colorado: "Teams that were able to change their identity a little bit at the trade deadline, like Edmonton with Dwayne Roloson or Colorado with Jose Theodore, can be dangerous in the playoffs. If Theodore gets back and plays well, they're going to be very dangerous." -- Scottie Upshall

New Jersey Devils
Colorado: "I don't know if they're an underdog. But they are based on the standings." -- Brian Gionta

New York Islanders
Colorado -- Eric Godard

New York Rangers
New Jersey: "The Devils, only because of Brodeur." -- Anonymous

Ottawa Senators
Montreal -- Anonymous

Philadelphia Flyers
New Jersey: "They have the goaltending, the players who have been through it before and some excellent forwards." -- R.J. Umberger

Phoenix Coyotes
Vancouver: "If they get all their guys clicking, I think they're a team that could definitely pull off a couple of upsets, and once that happens, sometimes momentum takes over." -- Jamie Rivers

Pittsburgh Penguins
Edmonton -- Ryan Whitney

St. Louis Blues
New Jersey -- Jamal Mayers

San Jose Sharks
Edmonton -- Anonymous

Tampa Bay Lightning
San Jose -- Anonymous

Toronto Maple Leafs
New Jersey -- Anonymous

Vancouver Canucks
Montreal: "They got off to a pretty good start after the Olympic break." -- Anson Carter

Washington Capitals
New Jersey -- Anonymous

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