What an end to the first round with three game sevens and the end of a beautiful, almost predictable, San Jose collapse – have the Sharks become the ultimate chokers in the playoffs, does this latest epic collapse put the crown on their heads? (Oops, too soon?).
With that said, how did we do in the first round?
We aced the Eastern Conference with the Bruins, Canadiens, Penguins and Rangers all winning, while we split the results in the Western Conference.
The Ducks and Blackhawks won, while the Wild and Kings upset our picks in Game 7 – we were within a MacKinnon goal and a 3-game collapse from a perfect first round.
And without further adieu, we’re onto the second round with the Bruins and Habs kicking things off on Thursday night.
Here are our picks for the second round:
Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens
Nasty, ugly, brutal, crushing, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking – this second round matchup between North American sports’ most bitter rivals will be all that and so much more.
The playoff history is lopsided in the Habs favor, with them hold a 24-9 series record over their American rivals – but the tide has turned in recent memory, with the Bruins winning in the last two match-ups.
We know the goalies are top notch, we know the usual suspects and we know that penalties galore are to be expected – for me, the key to winning could be in who doesn’t retaliate and who manages to keep their tempers under control.
Prediction: Montreal in 6
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers
Surviving scares, these two teams managed to make it into the second round but it could have easily been the Blue Jackets against the Flyers – with both teams digging deep to find a way to win.
The biggest difference between these two teams starts in net, with Henrik Lundqvist holding a clear advantage over the calamitous Marc-André Fleury – who single handily did as much as he could to give the Blue Jackets a series win.
All that aside, the Penguins have history on their side and have beaten the Rangers in ever series they’ve met. This time around, Rick Nash and company will be looking to take advantage of sloppy defence and weak goaltending to break that goose egg.
For me, the glaring issues in net and the sloppiness will be too much with the Rangers taking advantage and running away with the series.
Prediction: Rangers in 6.
Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild
Balanced scoring and responsible play helped the Wild get past the Avalanche and to be fair, the same could help them sneak by the Blackhawks in the second round.
It may not be enough though, with the Chicago offence on fire after scoring 14 goals in the final four games of their series against the Blues, add in the fact that Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper is questionable and Ilya Bryzgalov is not the most reliable of goalies, this series could be over before it begins.
Prediction: Chicago in 6
Anaheim Ducks v LA Kings
Let’s all take a collective moment and let it out: WHAT THE HELL SAN JOSE!?
Okay, now that we’ve covered that – how about those Kings? Coming back from being down 0 – 3 in a series, the fourth team ever to do that by the way, and stealing the series from the Sharks was impressive – but can they take that momentum and turn it into a Western Final berth?
Anze Kopitar was stellar in the first round and the Kings will ask for more of the same, he’ll have to contend with the likes of Ryan Getzlaf in this round and that should be a fun battle to watch.
For me the big question for this matchup is pretty clear: Goaltending.
Jonathan Quick vs maybe a healthy Frederik Anderson, but perhaps a Jonas Hiller (Without confidence of course….) – Old Brucey will need to decide, but either way the Ducks need a 180 turn around on the goaltending scale.
This is easily the toughest series for me to predict, but I’m going to give the edge to the Kings – maybe it’s their amazing twitter account that wins me over?
Prediction: Kings in 7
Henry writes about his two passions the Beautiful Game and the Brutal Game – whether you’re a die hard Soccer fan or passionate hockey fan, he’s got you covered.
You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , where he live tweets about sports far too much.