Tuesday, May 14, 2013

NHL Playoffs Second Round Preview and Predictions

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2

It was a wild first round with a bunch of game 7s, some upsets and a few teams steamrolling their opponents.  Those Boston fans who stuck around to see a furious three goal rally in the third period last night, including two goals in the last 90 seconds with Tukka Rask pulled for an extra attacker to send it into overtime and the game winner by Patrice Bergeron in overtime, will remember that game forever.  In Toronto, however, the Leafs faithful are probably slitting their wrists after watching their post season hopes slip through their fingers.  Sidney Crosby returned to the Penguins lineup and put up a hundred points in four games as the Pittsburgh bounced the scrappy Islanders.  And something has to finally give in Vancouver after San Jose swept them out of the playoffs.

So, how did I do?  Not very well.  I hit only 4 out of the 8 series, tying a monkey randomly picking the winners.  I’ll do better the rest of the way.  So, wait no longer, here’s the round two preview.


Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks (1) vs. Detroit Red Wings (7)

This is the matchup everyone who lives anywhere near Lake Michigan wanted.  In their last season in the same conference, these two long-time rivals get one more chances to go head to head in the playoffs.  The Red Wings weren’t supposed to get past Anaheim, but no one told them (and no one told Anaheim’s best players that they had to actually DO something in the playoffs).  Corey Crawford was excellent in round one against Minnesota, and the Hawks got scoring from all of the lines, all of this with Kaner failing to net a goal and Toews only netting one point.  I still just don’t think the Wings are deep enough to match up against the Hawks.  Hawks in 6.  Detroit sucks.


Los Angeles Kings (5) vs. San Jose Sharks (6)

Why do I keep thinking the Kings are going to lose in the first round?  Why did Vancouver disappoint against San Jose?  The Kings are the same team as last year and Jonathan Quick played well against the Blues.  The Sharks looked good against Vancouver, and Antti Niemi kept up his stellar play.  The battle of North vs South in California should be good, but the Kings come out on top in 7.


Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs Ottawa Senators (7)

Did you see Sidney Crosby play in the first round?  9 points in 5 games.  He’s pretty good at hockey.  Goaltending was an issue as Marc-Andre Fleury struggled before Tomas Vokoun replaced him for the last two games.  Just like Detroit, no one told Ottawa they were supposed to lose, so they went out and outplayed Montreal and sent them home.  Jason Spezza is practicing again after missing almost the entire season after back surgery.  Pittsburgh is just too good and this is where the improbably run ends for the Senators.  Penguins in 6.


Boston Bruins (4) vs. New York Rangers (6)

Boston’s game seven comeback would be an ESPN Classic Instant Classic if ESPN cared about hockey.  The Bruins proved they are built for the playoffs as their top guys finally got it going, especially Patrice Bergeron, who netted the tying and winning goals in that game 7.  The Rangers were up and down against Washington until utterly dominating them in game 7.  The Bruins solve King Henry and take the series in 6.



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