Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second Round Predictions

Just because the Flyers have been eliminated doesn't mean we should all stop paying attention to hockey! The NHL playoffs only get better the farther they go, plus there are some great match-ups to look forward to. After going a mediocre 4 for 8 on my first round predictions for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, here are my predictions for the second round:

Eastern Conference
(1) Boston vs. (6) Carolina
Boston in Six
I am still in shock that the Devils, with their stellar defense and Hall of Fame goaltender, lost a Game Seven in regulation when they had a one goal lead with a minute and a half left. A lot of the blame has to go to Martin Brodeur for letting in a couple of softies, but a ton of credit also has to go to the Hurricanes for bearing down and pulling off the unlikely victory. The Bruins have been sitting around and getting rusty waiting for the second round after sweeping the Habs so there is some temptation to take the Hurricanes in the upset. While I don't think the Bruins will be getting to the Stanley Cup Finals, I do see them getting past a Carolina team that lacks firepower. Boston will have a true test in the next round.

(2) Washington vs. (4) Pittsburgh
Washington in Six
This is the matchup the NHL, and the rest of the hockey world, wanted to see. The stars will be all over the ice as Ovechkin will square off against both Crosby and Malkin. This series will be won, however, by whichever team plays defense. Besides that, the Caps and Pens come into this series from complete opposite ends. Washington outplayed the Rangers for the entire first round series but were stifled repeatedly by Henrik Lundqvist and that kept New York in the series. The Penguins, on the other hand, were outplayed by the Flyers on most nights and were kept alive by some timely saves by Marc-Andre Fleury and when the Flyers failed to capitalize on their opportunities. For that reason, I like the Capitals to get past the Penguins because they are simply playing better hockey right now. It should be an entertaining, high-scoring series, just what the NHL wants.

Western Conference
(2) Detroit vs. (8) Anaheim
Detroit in Five
The Ducks got the matchup of their dreams in the first round when they got to play with nothing to lose and beat up on a talented but physically weak Sharks team. The Sharks are the ultimate playoff tease and were so tense as they worried so much about finally doing something in the playoffs, they were ripe for the picking. The Red Wings are the polar opposite from the Sharks. Detroit will not be pushed around and they know how to deal with pressure in the playoffs. The Wings do have some weaknesses, particularly in goal, but the Ducks don't have enough strengths to do anything about it.

(3) Vancouver vs. (4) Chicago
Vancouver in Seven
I was surprised by how Chicago's young stars came through against the Flames in a physical series. Calgary pushed the Blackhawks as hard as they could and the kids pushed back and showed they weren't scared of the playoffs. I expect a similar series here against Vancouver, although the Canucks are just a better team all-around. Vancouver might have some rust issues after coasting past the Blues in the first round but I they have more than enough talent on offense and in the net to beat out the Hawks in the end.

So those are my predictions. Let's hope I can do better than my abysmal showing for the First Round picks.


Joe W. Linden said...

"Just because the Flyers have been eliminated doesn't mean we should all stop paying attention to hockey!"

... sure it does.

Anonymous said...

Washington in 6...sounds like sour grapes to me.

allthingsphilly said...

Or maybe the Capitals are the better team?