Thursday, April 30, 2009

2009 NHL Playoffs 2nd Round

So in Round 1 I went 5-8 because the Devils can't hold the a lead and John Tortorella is a moron.  Completely got the Flyers series wrong which bothers me as I should have known better than to believe Martin Biron could get a team out of the 1st round.

Oh well here is my chance at redemption as Round 2 begins tonight and my Canucks are still in it.  Here are my predictions for the 2nd round:

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes

Regular Season Record: 4-0 in favor of the Bruins

Breakdown: Virtually everything went right for the Bruins this season. Their young players developed into top line talent, their blueline was rock solid and they received elite level goaltending from Tim Thomas. All that added up to the Bruins capturing their first division title since 2004. The team racked up 116 points, the highest mark since 1972 - the last time the B's lifted Lord Stanley's grail. The first round sweep of the hated Habs - where they were the dominant team in every game - was the icing on the cake for Bruins fans and management.  They now look to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and should have no problem doing so against the physically exhausted Hurricanes.

The first round series against the Devils was a back and fourth affair. Five of the seven contests were decided by a single goal and two went to overtime, if you count Carolina's winner with 0.2 seconds left in Game 4. Martin Brodeur played like crap for the Devils and was out preformed by Hurricane goaltender Cam Ward. People still make the case for Brodeur being the best goalie of all-time but I just don't see it as that softy he let in to allow the Hurricanes to advance looked like a shot I had a chance at stopping.  He is now a corpse and cost his team the playoffs.

Prediction:  Boston in 5

Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins

Regular Season Record: 3-0-1 in favor of the Capitals

Breakdown: The Capitals are lucky that they made it this far.  If John Tortorella doesn't lose his shit on a fan and get suspended for Game 6 then the momentum would not have swing so favorably in Washington's favor.  They looked to be done yet came storming back to win 3 in a row on the strength of Ovechkin's highlight reel goal and the stellar play of Simeon Varlamov.  Now they are focused and have some serious momentum.

The Penguins have been playing extremely well not just in the playoffs but also in the final stretch to get to the playoffs.  Crosby and Malkin have been on fire and usually inconsistent goalie Marc Andre Fleury has been playing his best hockey of the season.  This series is a dream match up for the NHL as they have Crosby vs Ovechkin in the playoffs for the first time ever.  Hopefully for the sake of business the series will go 7 but I don't think it will.

Prediction: Penguins in 6

Western Conference

Detroit Red Wings vs Anaheim Mighty Ducks

Regular Season Record: 3-0-1 in favor of the Wings

Breakdown: The Red Wings walked right through the Columbus Blue Jackets and barely broke a sweat doing so.  This gave them time to rest their playoffs and get ready for the 2nd round.  Chris Osgood played well all series long but was rarely challenged so hopefully he can be ready for the offense of the Ducks.  This series should be a solid one as despite records these are the two best teams in the West.

Despite their 8th seed ranking the Ducks went into San Jose and ended the Sharks season.  They outplayed them in almost every area of the game and goalie Jonas Hiller looked like a veteran as he made countless saves against a formidable Sharks offense.  Things won't get easier for the youngster though as the Wings can score with the best of them and should have no problem putting pucks on net.

Prediction: Ducks in 7

Vancouver Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks

Regular Season Record: 2-2

Breakdown:  The Canucks present the best opportunity to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time in 16 years. They have terrific goaltending, a solid, gritty defensive unit and depth at forward. They can play a high paced finesse game or play a gritty physical game.  They aren't weak in any areas and their lesser known players like Kesler and Burrows are stepping up big to make contributions.  It also can't be overlooked that since they swept the Blues they have been resting and getting players like Sami Salo back from injury.  It would also be quite a spectacle to see the reaction of Maple Leafs fans if Mats Sundin captured the Cup after only half a season on the West Coast. 

The Blackhawks won their first playoff series in 13 years by taking out the Flames, 4-2, in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals (hahaha suck is Calgary). Nikolai Khabibulin lived up to his "Bulin Wall" handle in the series, although looking shaky in the two contests at Pengrowth Saddledome in Game 4 and 5. The Blackhawks' power play unit was also the difference in the series as they scored seven times on 24 attempts.  For all the talk of inexperience the Blackhawks looked good in their series and weren't afraid to get physical with the Flamers.  The last time these two teams met their were a few fights at the end of the game so some bad blood still exhists.  Should be a sweet series. 

Prediction: Canucks in 6

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