Saturday, June 01, 2013

NHL Playoffs Conference Finals Preview and Predictions

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 3

Wow.  Western Conference fans got to watch back to back game sevens, both which game down to the last moments.  Sharks fans were disappointed again as the defending champion Los Angeles Kings knocked them out by holding on 2-1 in a furious game seven finish where goalie Jonathan Quick was the difference.  The other series saw an epic end to the Chicago-Detroit divisional rivalry as the Blackhawks crawled their way back down 3 games to 1 to win game seven when Niklas Hjalmarsson scored in the closing minutes of the third period, er, I mean Brett Seabrook scored early in overtime to send some happy humans home at the Hangar.  The Eastern Conference wasn’t as fun to watch, as Boston and Pittsburgh rolled to the conference finals.

So how did I do?  Much better this round as I picked all four series.  Now, for the conference finals

Eastern Conference Finals

Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs. Boston Bruins

Both team dominated in their previous series.  Sidney Crosby is back, netting 15 points in only 10 games.  Evgeni Malkin said he needs to step up his game, although he has 16 points in 11 games.  The only thing holding Pittsburgh back is their goaltending, although Tomas Vokoun  played very well against Ottawa.  Boston made beating the Rangers look easy and it cost Rangers coach John Tortorella his job  Both of these teams have been scoring a lot so this could be a wide open series which bodes well for Pittsburgh.  On the other hand, Boston knows how to clamp down defensively, which bodes well for them.  Zdeno Chara is playing almost 30 minutes a game, David Krejci is leading the playoffs in scoring and Tuukka Rask is playing well in the net.  The top five scores in the postseason are playing in this series.  As long as the goaltending holds, this is Pittsburgh’s series to win.  Penguins in 7.

(Okay, quick recap. On the top is Zdeno Chara.  He is 6'9", 255 lbs. and is 36 years old.  He is Slovakian. 
On the bottom it Charo, aka Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Moline Baeza.  Her age is, well, in dispute.  According to Wikipedia, her birth records in Spain say she was born in 1931, in the US 1941 but somehow she got a US court to decree 1951 as her birth year.  So she is 82,72 or 62, depending on who you believe.  No indications on height and weight but I'm pretty sure those are double Ds.)

Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks (1) vs. Los Angeles Kings

The Hawks are still not playing their best hockey although they played very well in long stretches in the last three wins over Detroit (sucks).  The Kings used home ice to their advantage (note: the Kings passed the Sharks for the 5th seed the last weekend of the regular season) and have yet to lose at the Staples Center.  Did I mention they have just about the same team as last year’s Cup hoisters?  Did you see Jonathan Quick in the 3rd period of game seven against the Sharks?  Did you know his GAA this post season is 1.50?  Did you know Corey Crawford is second in GAA with 1.70?  For the Hawks to win this, Kane and Toews need to pot some goals.  Patrick Sharp has already scored more post-season goals than regular season goals and Bryan Bickell has been a beast, netting 5 goals of his own.  Chicago’s D has been up and down, with too many turnovers against Detroit but overall they are the deeper team.  If they can get a few past quick and keep the Kings top line in check, Chicago can advance.  There will be a lot of 2-1 games in this series.  Hawks in 7.

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