Friday, April 29, 2011

2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second Round Predictions

Even if you aren't a hockey fan, you have to be excited with the NHL Playoffs after all that went down in the first round. From the defending champs almost pulling off a huge upset to a handful of seven game series to amazing in-game comebacks, hockey has never been more entertaining. With how closely matched the second round series appear to be, things could get even better. After going a perfect 8 for 8 on my first round picks, here are my picks for the second round:

Eastern Conference:
(1) Washington vs. (5) Tampa Bay

Washington in 6

While the Capitals are much better defensively now, this series could still be a shootout since both teams have a ton of top-line scoring talent and neither has a shutdown goaltender. If the Lightning can continue to get goals from their 3rd and 4th lines, they will be very difficult to stop, even for a Capitals team that has more responsibility in their own zone. With fairly even offenses, goaltending and special teams, this series likely will come down to defense, something the Capitals don't suck at anymore.

(2)Philadelphia vs. (3) Boston
Philadelphia in 6

Here we go again! Right off the bat, if the Flyers play like they did in Game 7 against the Sabres, this could be a quick series. While the Bruins take pride in their depth at forward and on defense, the Flyers are still the deeper team, especially now that Chris Pronger is back full-time. The biggest edge the Bruins have is in goal, and while that could be a huge edge if the Flyers continue their goaltender carousel, the Flyers have already beaten one world-class goalie in the playoffs. With things (hopefully) stabilizing in net with Brian Boucher, the Bruins might not even have that big of an edge. Both teams struggled on the power play in the first round, so this series could hinge on which team is better with the man advantage. Bottom line: if the Flyers get even average goaltending and aren't terrible on the power play, they will win this series.

Western Conference:
(1) Vancouver vs. (5) Nashville

Vancouver in 5

The Canucks got a big scare in the first round but things should be a little easier for them against the Predators. Not that Nashville should be taken lightly, but they don't bring with them the playoff experience that the entire Blackhawks team had. The Canucks appear to be the better team in nearly every facet of the game, from their incredible depth on defense and forward to their top-notch special teams. Where things are a little closer is in net, where Robert Luongo is a talented headcase and Pekka Rinne can be unbeatable but also inconsistent. I liken this series to the Heat/Sixers series in the NBA Playoffs as the Predators will make the Canucks work in every game but they will have a hard time actually closing the deal and getting wins.

(2) San Jose vs. (3) Red Wings
Red Wings in 7

This series is a tough one to call, especially after how good the Red Wings looked in the first round. Are the Sharks finally over their playoff ineptitude after conquering the Kings with three overtime wins? Or, despite their age, do the Red Wings have one last run in them? These teams are pretty even down the line, with the Red Wings getting the slight edge on defense and in goal. Given their playoff histories, it's hard not to lean towards the Red Wings. Prove me wrong, Sharks.

Those are my picks for the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Check back tomorrow for a more complete breakdown of the Flyers/Bruins series.


Anonymous said...

typo city man. Its the second round, not the first. And its the second round not the second down.

allthingsphilly said...

Thanks for the great feedback. Two typos is a typo city?