Alright after a double dose of Game 7 last night, the first round of the NHL Playoffs has come to a conclusion. In the preview of Round 1, I managed to pick six of the 8 series correctly and I got the game total corrent in four of them (Boston in 4, Carolina in 7, Pittsburgh in 6, and Detroit in 4). I missed the Canucks’ sweep over my Blues and the Ducks upsetting the Sharks, though I almost picked that. Too bad almost doesn’t count. Anyway, on to Round 2.
Let’s first take a look at the Western Conference. The Detroit Red Wings were not challenged in their opening series agaisnt Columbus. They swept all four games rather easily and have been resting comfortably at home (as comfortable as you can be in Detroit, anyway). The Ducks on the other hand won a hard-fought, physical series against the top-seeded San Jose Sharks. Both teams have playoff experience and have superstars all over the ice. I’m giving the series to the Wings in 6, but just like the first series for the Ducks, they won’t go away easily and could pull another upset.
The second semifinal pits the Chicago Blackhawks against the Vancouver Canucks. This is the series that I am most interested in watching. Both teams can play physical and both teams have the skill to play a finesse type game. It’s going to come down to the play of Roberto Luongo, who is the best goaltender on the planet. Luongo single-handedly turned the Blues series from a close one on paper into a sweep. I think Luongo carries the Canucks in 7, but it’s a toss-up.
In the Eastern Conference, everyone will be talking about Crosby vs. Ovechkin. They should be. This series should just be amazing. The Caps took 7 games to vanquish the Rangers and had to come back from a 3-1 deficit. The Penguins only took 6 games in a mean-spirited series to send their cross-state rivals packing. The Pens have their two superstars in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, while the Caps have Ovechkin and his good supporting cast. Now that supporting cast is nothing to sneeze at with Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green, but still, I’m saying Pens in 6.
The Bruins-Hurricanes series may be the least competitive of them all. The Bruins easily took out their hated rivals, the Canadiens in 4 games, while the Hurricanes had a crazy Game 7 comeback to beat the Devils. Boston really looks like the best team in the NHL. I’m not sure anyone in the East can match up with them. Bruins in 5.
The second round promises to be as good as the first, if not better. If you haven’t gotten into the hockey playoffs yet, it’s your loss.
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