While most of us are recovering from the stunning comeback by the Montreal Canadiens last night, I figured that I would try to put together some predictions for the second round.
I correctly predicted just one of the outcomes in the East, but recovered with the West going 4 for 4 and finishing the first round with a 5 out of 8 right. But seriously, how many people had Boucher dominating New Jersey and the Habs coming back after going down 3 games to 1?
With that being said, here we go for my Round 2 predictions:
The East – I said that the East was pretty even before the first round, and that came true with 3 of the Top seeds being knocked out.
Pittsburg (4) – Montreal (8) – While we catch our collective breath from the Habs comeback, this matchup has hockey fans licking their lips. Sid the Kid comes to town to face his childhood heroes, and Jaroslav Halak enters the series as the MVP of round one. Mike Cammalleri led the Canadiens with 5 goals and 5 assists, while Crosby was explosive with 5 goals and 9 assists. This series will come down to goaltending, and if Halak can steal another series. He made 231 saves against the Caps and let in just 14 goals, his counterpart Marc-Andre Fluery only had 173 shots against but let in 19 goals.
As tempting as it is to jump on the Halak bandwagon, i’m going to give the star-studded Penguins the edge in this series: Penguins in 6.
Boston(6) – Philadelphia (7) – There are so many stories in this bottom two matchup, its hard to know where to start. The two teams combined for just four 20-goal scorers, and this series will come down to defence and goaltending: Tuukka Rask verse Brian Boucher. Chris Pronger verse Zdeno Chara. Between the pipes Rask pipped Tim Thomas for the starting job, while the Flyers had Michael Leighton and Ray Emery fight for the job, until the team jumped onto the back of a hot Brian Boucher.
This one is a toss-up for me and the closest series that the playoffs have served up in recent years, however: Philadelphia in 6
The West –Four for four isn’t bad eh? The noise you hear right now is the sound of the ‘Yotes bandwagon emptying and people jumping back onto perennial favourite Detroit Redwings.
Sharks (1) – Detroit (5)– Playoff choke artists verse Playoff Masters. San Jose has 4 Stanley cup champions on their roster, while Detroit sports 20, oh and four of them have four rings, while two have two. Joe Thornton, Danny Heatley and Patrick Marleau combined for one goal between them, and continued the Sharks streak of key players disappearing in the playoffs. Lucky for them, Joe Pavelski won two games by himself and Evgeni Nabokov was in fine form. In stark contrast, Detroit struggled in the regular season but showed once again why they are a perennial Stanley Cup favourite. They are a team built for the playoffs and their best players were their best players in round one.
It’s not really an upset, but more like same old for these two teams: Detroit in 5
Blackhawks (2) – Vancouver (3) – This will be the MOST exciting series of the round, hands down, no questions asked. Two of the most offensively talented teams in the league, with the Sedin twins, Mikael Samuelsson, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Where to start? Sammy had 7 goals in the first round but between him and the twins they had all four game winning goals. Talk about your stars coming out to play. On the other side, the Blackhawks had 10 different players score but Kane, Toews and Hossa combined for 8 goals. Goaltending is where this series gets interesting with Roberto Luongo looking shaky down the stretch and letting in 17 goals against LA, although most were on the Powerplay. Down the ice, Antti Neimi stole the starter job from Christobal Huet and rattled off another two shutouts in the first series.
This series will be full of high-octane offense and stunning saves, but definitely go the distance. Luongo has me worried but I have to believe he will turn his play around and for that reason I say: Vancouver in 7.
So there you have it, my Conference finals will look like this:
East – Pittsburg (4) – Philadelphia (7)
West – Vancouver (3) – Detroit (5)
Henry Whitfield is an avid sports fan who covers everything and anything in the sports world, while focusing on hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield.