Stanley Cup

THE BATTLE FOR THE CUP: SECOND ROUND PREDICTIONS

SCF2014What 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:

 

 

Eastern Conference

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.

canadiensWe 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 rangerscompany 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.

 

Western Conference

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.

hawksI give the Wild credit for knocking off Patrick Roy’s young, inexperience team, but for me the Chicago playoff experience and form make this an easy prediction.

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.
Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 7.32.13 PMThis 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.

First Round Stanley Cup Predos

Stanley Cup Predictions, 2011 Edition

The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks are in tough against the top team in the NHL when they face off with Vancouver tonight.

While in the East, it’s a battle of proving your worth with the top seeded Capitals trying to break away from their playoff woes against the Rangers.

I’m sure many of you will disagree or have your own opinions, so feel free to share them in the comments section and let me know your predictions.

Without further adieu, here are my predictions for the first round of the playoffs and who I think can change the course of each series.

The West

Vancouver Canucks – Chicago Blackhawks

While Chicago has had Vancouver’s number the last few times they’ve duked it out in the playoffs, this years edition sees the Canucks more confident and ready to go.

The Sedins are once again on fire and Roberto Luongo is playing some of the best hockey of his career while the Blackhawks slipped into the playoffs and have battled injuries down the stretch.

Key Player: Jonathan Toews, Captain serious has the potential to steal the series if he gets hot and throws his team on his back.

My prediction? Canucks in Six

San Jose Sharks – LA Kings

The Sharks broke their playoff duck last year and are locked and loaded for another drive deeper into the playoffs, the Kings have fought well the last few weeks despite key injuries but are not at the level needed to beat the Sharks in a best of seven.

With everyone chipping in, the Sharks looked primed for the playoffs and ready to build on last year’s success.

Key Player: Joe Thornton had a quiet season scoring goals by his standards, but his big body presence and ability to pass the puck will push the Sharks over the edge.

My prediction? Sharks in Five

Detroit Red Wings – Phoenix Coyotes

Experience verse youth in this battle, the Red Wings pipped the Coyotes in game Seven last year and many expect them to do it again this year.

However, with the Coyotes showing great confidence and an old, fragile Red Wings team not looking like their former selves i’m giving the edge to a Yandle led Phoenix team.

This is my upset of the first round and it’s but a pipe dream.

Key Player: Jimmy Howard picked up a win in his final appearance of the regular season and Howard will  have the ability to steal this one for the Red Wings.

My Prediction? Coyotes in Seven

Anaheim Ducks – Nashville Predators

With what may be the best top line in the NHL right now, the Ducks were carried on the back of Cory Perry straight into the playoffs.

Nashville will have their hands full not just shutting down Perry but his linemates and a rejuvenated Teemu Selanne who finished 8th in scoring despite his age.

Goaltending is the big issue for the Ducks, with both their choice starters battling against time to get fit for the playoffs.

Key Player: To beat the Ducks, the Preds need to shut down Cory Perry. Goodluck. The kid has been on fire and his scoring touch will be the key to the Ducks overcoming their goaltending woes.

My Prediction? Ducks in Six

—————-

The East

No Sidney Crosby to light up the playoffs, a Halak-less Habs and lots of upset potential litter the first round in the East.

Washington Capitals – New York Rangers

This matchup has upset written all over it, but i’m willing to give the Caps the credit that winning the East is due.

Look to Ovechkin to play supporting star in this series, with Semin leading the offensive charge.

King Henrick has the ability to steal a game or two, but it’s Washington’s year to prove they are the quality they believe they have .

Key Player: Sorry, this is a battle between the coaches. Tortorella and Bruce Boudreau will be providing some of the best sound bytes for decades, don’t turn away.

My Prediction? Capitals in Six

—-

Philadelphia Flyers – Buffalo Sabres

Sorry Ryan Miller, the Flyers are built for the playoffs and itching to make good on falling short last season.

Lead by the tandem of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, this Flyers team has just one big question mark: Will Chris Pronger play or not?

Pronger is the key cog in the Flyers wheel and the Sabres will catch a huge break if the big man doesn’t get his usual ice-time.

Miller will need to stand on his head to steal a few games in this one.

Key Player: The big X-Factor for the Flyers is Chris Pronger and his health will help decide this series.

My Prediction? Flyers in Six.

Boston Bruins – Montreal Canadiens

The one matchup the Habs didn’t want and they’re stuck playing the Boston Bruins.

Last year the Habs rode the unflappable Halak and will need Carey Price to stand on his head, build a brick wall and cross his fingers to beat the Bruins.

Boston is bigger, faster, stronger and have offensive weapons on all four lines.

Over a seven game series, the Habs don’t seem tough enough to compete and will have a hard time competing in every game.

Key Player: Carey Price. He needs to continue to be outstanding like all season and will have to do everything in his power to keep his team alive.

My Prediction? Bruins in Five

Pittsburgh Penguins – Tampa Bay Lightning

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are out, but the Penguins have been winning as a team for a while now.

The team has shown a spirited resiliency fighting into the playoffs and as a team have really come together.

The offensive firepower of Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecalier and Martin St. Louis will be looking to push their team Marc-Andre Fleury, while the Pens will be looking to exploit the Lightnings biggest weakness: Dwayne Roloson.

Key Player: Steven Stamkos was on fire early on in the season and will need to get back to his high flying offensive ways, if Stamkos is scoring and the powerplay is clicking the Lightning can win this one.

My Prediction? Lightning in Seven, with lots of overtime hockey.

—–

Henry is a contributor to Sportstream.ca and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU every Tuesday Mornings at 11. You can follow him on twitter at HenryWhitfield, where he live tweets his thoughts during each Mooseheads games

 

That’s all she wrote…

a month of competition, thousands of minutes of hockey played and countless highlight reel plays the Stanley Cup was decided in one of the most anti-climactic moments in recent sport history.

Patrick Kane danced along the side boards, drove to the net and put a bad angled shot through Michael Leighton but the puck lodged itself into the side of the net and the celebration was delayed by the confusion. It was an awkward moment as the Chicago coaching staff didn’t celebrate but their team swarmed the goal scorer as he skated full length celebrating his goal. Moments later it was confirmed: The Chicago Blackhawks were the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions.

With that goal the dream came to fruition for the Chicago Blackhawks, who had gone 49 years without a championship, and in that same moment the come-back kid Philadelphia Flyers were dealt a final, crushing blow in what had almost been a Cinderella-like playoffs.

When Scotty Hartnell scored to take the game to overtime with under five-minutes left, I high-fived my friends and cried out “Flyers in Seven,” maybe it was my premature excitement that cost the boys the cup but it meant that I had failed to get a series correct since the second round.

Jonathan Toews was deservedly awarded to the Conn Smyth trophy, an award that almost certainly would have gone to Chris Pronger if his team had pulled off another come from behind victory, and the famously serious captain finally cracked a smile.

Here are some final thoughts on the Stanley Cup Finals and the 2010 Playoffs:

  • Love him or hate him, Chris Pronger made the 2010 playoff’s more fun than usual; Whether it was his antics in stealing the game puck after Chicago wins, or his quick quips to the media throughout, he gave the fans something that we haven’t seen since Jeremy Roenick was in the playoffs.
  • ith 28 Canadians playing in the Stanley Cup final last night and another 11 that were not dressed, it is safe to say that Canada is on top of the Hockey world. As I pointed out after round one, it just doesn’t seem that European players in the NHL have that desire or passion to go after the Cup like their North American counterparts.
  • This year marks another season that the Stanley Cup has gone south of the border and it has now been too many years since a Canadian team has lifted hockey’s holy grail. The Montreal Canadiens almost ended the drought but only time will tell when the Stanley Cup will come home next. Leafs in 2011 anyone? You heard it here first!
  • Get ready for some outrageous contract signings in this offseason. Players like Jaroslav Halak, Dustin Byfuglien and need another younger player all had outstanding playoff performances and will look to cash in on their new found stardom.
  • This year’s Stanley Cup finals may have been short on goaltending excellence but made up for it with some of the best offensive battles in recent memory. Not being a goalie, I don’t mind seeing games finish with goals galore and this year’ finals should help grow the game down south, with some of the most exciting hockey in years.
  • Last but not least, Jonathan Toews showed a lot of class last night as he passed the Cup straight to Marian Hossa after lifting the cup himself. Hossa was trying for his third straight year to win the Stanley Cup and it was a touching moment as all the gathered Blackhawk players chanted his name.

Playoff Awards

Breakout Player – Although the Canadiens didn’t hoist the cup, it was definitely a coming out party for Jaroslav Halak. He posted a neat 2.55 GAA and led all goalies with a .923 save percentage.

Biggest Disappointment – Although Ilya Kovulchuk was an utter failure for New Jersey and helped them flop, the biggest disappointment in the playoffs goes to Washington Capital’s forward Alex Ovechkin. The talismanic forward failed to drive his team forward and elimination in the first round is unacceptable.

Top Defencemen – Chris Pronger was a beast throughout the playoffs and often played more than half of most games in the 2010 playoffs. The Canadian battled not only the ice but with the media storm around his team, and once again he threw an underachieving team on his back and carried them deep into the playoffs.

Top Forward – Hard to argue against the numbers Jonathan Toews put up throughout the playoffs but I am going to and put it out there that Daniel Briere was the top forward in this year’s playoffs. The small forward had 12 goals and 18 assists to give him the playoff point lead at 30 points. We finally saw his talent come to the forefront and he was a catalyst for the Flyers. He also added a +9 plus/minus throughout the playoffs.

Top Goalie – Sure he let a terrible goal in to allow the Chicago Blackhawks to hoist the cup but Michael Leighton was by far the best goalie in the playoffs. Registering 3 shutouts in the last series allowed the Flyers to get as close as they did this year and the kid finished with a GAA 2.46 of and a .916 save percentage.

With the playoffs completed, I feel compelled to share my wonderful prediction record. After going 6/8 in the first round, I fell to bits and failed to keep up the pace. I finished with an 8/15 record, good enough for a 53% record but nothing to phone home about.

Now the playoffs are finished and the rest of the teams have joined Toronto on the Golf Course only one question remains: Taylor or Tyler

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.

Home Sweet Home…

The Philadelphia Flyers headed home after Game 2 knowing they were in danger of letting this series slip away.

Hockey Pundits were claiming the Flyers couldn’t handle the wonder kids Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, let alone find an answer to the unstoppable force of Dustin Byfuglien.

Two games later and the Flyers now sit two games apiece with the Chicago Blackhawks, and the kids from Chicago look like they have no answer for the hard-hitting, aggressive, in your face play of the Philadelphia Flyers.

As predicted, Chris Pronger has been the catalyst for this team’s success and has completely shut down the high-powered, speedy offence that the Chicago Blackhawks bring to the table.

  • All we hear about is Chris Pronger; well it’s his defensive partner that should get some praise too. Matt Carle is the other half to the best shutdown player in the NHL today and most wouldn’t be able to name him as Pronger’s defensive partner. He has logged an average of 25:39 minutes/game and has 13 points with a plus/minus of +10.
  • Speaking of Chris Pronger, I called him a monster after game one and two and he’s continued to dominate this series. Whether it’s in the media getting under the skin of the Chicago players of manhandling their small forwards, Pronger has been all over this Blackhawks team. After going posting a plus/minus of +4 in game four, he is now +7 in this series. Not bad for a guy that plays almost half of every game.
  • After being quiet so far this series Flyers Captain Mike Richards finally woke up and played like the player he can be; Picked up the opening goal on a smart, heads-up play and looked dangerous all night. If the Flyers want to keep the momentum going in Chicago they need Richards to keep his form.

  • From a captain leading by example to a captain that has gone missing. Jonathan Toews has started to vanish in this series and topped it off missing an open cage with just minutes remaining in the game. The top line produced just one assist and looked pretty useless out there.

So far both teams have cemented their place at home but this is essentially a best of three series with two of the games in Chicago. Can the Flyers break down the Madhouse on Madison or will Chicago hold strong and break the hearts of Flyers fans all over.

My prediction, albeit mocked by all when made, of the Flyers winning in seven games still looks good but I’m worried they may pull it off in six.

That is for now, check later for breakdown of the QMJHL draft day and the rest of my Stanley Cup analysis.

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.

Heading Back To Broad Street…

When the Flyers squeezed into the playoffs just one month ago, they hoped but far from expect to be playing in the Stanley Cup finals.

On Thursday the two teams head back to Philadelphia, where the Flyers find themselves in a two game hole against a high-flying Chicago Blackhawks team. After a goal bonanza in game one, the two teams settled down and put together a defensive battle in game two that saw the Blackhawks take a 2-1 win.

The Blackhawks have won seven straight games on the road and will look to sweep for consecutive rounds when they arrive in Philadelphia.

Here are some thoughts after the first two games:

  • The Philadelphia Flyers couldn’t be luckier in the long-term; they have a number of solid goaltending options with Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher currently battling it out for the starter’s job in the next game. After another strong display by Leighton, I would tip him to start Game 3.
  • Daniel Carcillo got back to his antagonizing ways in Game 2 (So much so that my friend watching with me commented: I didn’t realise Avery played for the Flyers…) and look for more of the same going forward; he was able to get under the skin of Ben Eager and could be effective in knocking the young, inexperienced Chicago players off their game.
  • Chris Pronger is a animal beast monster. Looking at footage from the first two games, he has manhandled Byfuglien and that’s shown up on the score board as the influential winger has 1 points so far this series and has a  -2 +/- so far this series.
  • I don’t think that Jeff Carter has fully recovered from the injury that almost knocked him out of the Olympics and his choice to go to Vancouver may cost his team. He has been a shadow of his normal crafty self and has only 4 goals and 2 assists, with a -2 +/- this post season.
  • To be a champion you need to win when you don’t play well and that is exactly what Chicago did in game 1. They didn’t play solid defensively but still managed to out-gun the Flyers and that’s a scary thought.
  • Another BIG THUMBS UP to Chris Pronger for doing whatever he can to get an edge in the psychological warfare of the playoffs. In a move that would make Jeremy Roenick proud, after both games he picked up the game puck before any Blackhawk could get near it. Now I realise you purists out there think this is a jerk move, but it’s a great way to get under the skin of a young Blackhawk team that will surely look to get back at him and might even take a penalty or two. So good on you Pronger, keep doing what you do!

Finally: Don’t count out the Broad Street Bullies.

Remember when these same Flyers had been written off after going down three games to none against the Bruins in the first round?

How about when all the pundits were saying there was ‘no chance’ those Flyers could compete with the great Halak and the blocked shot champs in Montreal?

This Philadelphia Flyers team has aged a number of seasons in this playoff stretch and they’ve already had to battle for their lives a number of times. I wouldn’t count them out just yet and look for some rough, wild and hard-hitting Flyer’s hockey in game four back at the Wachovia center.

Sticking by my prediction: Flyers winning in seven.

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.

NHL Playoffs 2010 – Stanley Cup Final Predo

It’s wild to think that just a few weeks ago the season was winding down. The Toronto Maple Leafs were already golfing, Ottawa Senator and Montreal Canadiens Fans alike all thought they had a shot at going all the way and the Philadelphia Flyers squeaked into the playoffs by a nose.

Flash forward in true Lost fashion and we now sit with a matchup of what a month ago would have been called a ‘David verse Goliath” type battle. Goliath being the powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks who were looking for a solid goaltending all season and have finally found it in young Antti Niemi and the resurgent Broad Street Bullies who have huffed and puffed to get their way to the finals.

In a new twist, here are my 5 keys to the series and then you will find my prediction for this series:

  • Goaltending MatchupBig GIGANTIC surprise Finnish flash Antti Niemi goes head to head with even bigger surprise Canadian Michael Lieghton. Niemi sits with a 921 save %, while Lieghton holds a sterling 948. The Canuck also takes the GAA category with a 1.45 versus the Fins 2.33. Throw in the factor that the Philadelphia had three shutouts in the last round and were able to beat the shotblocking kings at their own game last round, I will throw advantage to the Flyers.
  • Bridesmaid syndrome – Always the bridesmaid and never the bride? Marian Hossa has been on the losing end of a Stanley Cup series for the last two years seasons and it may just be time for that to change. He has averaged just under 18-minutes of ice time a game but after three rounds has just 2 goals. Two goals?!  With 51 shots taken he now holds a 3.9% shooting average. He is also second on the Blackhawks in Penalty minutes with 21 already, and he has shown a lack of composure that is out of character. Another disappointing performance from him in the playoffs will to finish with Hossa wondering the eternal question: Who’s can I jump to next.
  • The Buff Factor – Raise your hand if you’re sick of hearing about Dustin Byfuglien. Perfect. Well, get ready to stop seeing his name on the score sheet. The truck of a man has been busy sitting in front of nets all playoffs; getting up close and personal with both Roberto Luongo and Evgeni Nabokov, easily getting the better of both. However, the Flyershave one asset that will help even the battle: Chris Pronger. The defensive talisman of the bullies will be tasked with clearing out the garbage in front of Leighton and make no mistake, he will manhandle the Big Buff

The Old workhorse – Speaking of Chris Pronger, the man is getting old and entering the twilight of his career. He has been to the finals of the Stanley Cup three times in recent years and there will only be a few more opportunities for him to win the Holy Grail of hockey. The 35-year-old, 6’6″, 220 pound Canadian defencemen has his eyes set on another ring, so look for him to play like a man possessed and be a key factor in this series.

  • Home Ice Advantage In a series that many think will go seven games, the issue of home ice advantage can be key to lifting the cup. The Flyers have scored 28 goals at home, with just 14 against. On the other hand they scored 26 on the road and allowed 22 against. The Blackhawks 21 at home and allowed 23 against, while scoring a big 32 on the road and allowed just 17 against. What does this mean? Maybe nothing, maybe everything. But if you’re looking at home-ice advantage, the Blackhawks have been outscored at home in these playoffs there and maybe it’s the edge the Flyers need?

So with all that out-of-the-way, it comes down to this: My prediction is…

The Philadelphia Flyer will stun the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games.

There we have it and that being said, I guess the Blackhawks will probably win in 5 just to prove me as wrong as possible.

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.

NHL 2010 Playoffs – Round 2 Predo’s

2010 Stanley CupWhile 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 EastI 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 WestFour 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.