Barber says he won't name his starter until late this week, but Cechmanek's recent workload—he'd been in the lineup for three of the Flyers' five games since returning from the injured list on March 30—suggested that he'd be named Philadelphia's first repeat starter since Ron Hextall, in 1996. Says Barber, "We know what Bouch brings to the table, but he's played a lot lately and I'd be foolish if I didn't try to get Cechmanek enough games to get him comfortable again."
Warning to High Seeds
No Easy Playoff Opponents
Earning a high seed in the playoffs rarely amounts to a free pass: In each of the last five seasons at least one of the top four seeds has been bounced in the first round, including the No. 1 Blues in 2000 and the top-ranked Devils in 1999 and '98. This year the possibility of an upset is even greater. In the bottlenecked West, in which seven points separated fourth place from 10th as of Sunday, today's division leader is tomorrow's seventh seed (see: Coyotes last week), and there's no soft draw when the bottom seeds could include the Blackhawks (40-25-12-1), Blues (39-27-8-4) and Kings (38-25-11-4).
In the East high-seeded teams may have the misfortune of running into white-hot goalie Jos� Th�odore of the eighth-ranked Canadiens or the two-time defending conference champion Devils. New Jersey, which reloaded at the trade deadline by adding forwards Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner, ranked seventh and was coming on.
"We're going to play a great team in the first round, no matter what," says center Jeremy Roenick of the Flyers, whose reward for winning the Atlantic Division and finishing second in the East may be a first-round date with the Devils. "The league is too hard these days."