Once again, I would like to apologize for being slightly behind schedule on this one. Spring is a very busy time of year, with getting the yard ready for summer and starting up again at my summer job at the local golf course… some days it’s tough even to get to the computer! Much like last time, these predictions were also written before round 2 started. I’m looking pretty good so far, but we’ll see how long that lasts.
As for round 1, I went 5/8 with my picks, with the worst one being VAN in 7 (ended up being SJS in 4, the complete opposite). I was bang on with CHI in 5, the only prediction where I was right for both the team and the number of games. How did you guys do?
On to round 2:
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators
Once again, I would say that this is one of the easier picks. Much like the PIT-NYI series, the penguins are just too powerful (although the Islanders did give them a run for their money, surprising many people). Like many series, this one may come down to goaltending, but from a different angle. The Senators will need GREAT goaltending to win, whereas the penguins will only need GOOD goaltending to win. The penguins can get away with less-than-stellar goaltending, simply because they can score. Craig Anderson will have to be the phenomenal goaltender he was in the regular season and for most of the Montreal series. The senators simply cannot afford to have anything less than Anderson at his best. If he is not sharp, the series will not last very long. The penguins are just too good a team to make any mistakes against.
Prediction: Penguins in 5
Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers
This is going to be an extremely close series. These are two very tough, defensive-minded teams, who do the hard work to grind out a win. Both teams have great goaltending, with Lundqvist being slightly ahead of Rask at the moment. Lundqvist is currently on a two-game shutout streak, and there’s no reason to think that he may continue doing that. He has been phenomenal all year, arguably being New York’s best player. Rask has also played very well, but he has not been as solid as consistent as this round’s counterpart. The Rnagers, although have a couple of superstars on their team, have had scoring from almost all their lines. The Bruins relied on the Krejci-Horton-Lucic line for almost all of their scoring in the first round. Bergeron did bring his A-game for game 7, but the Bruins need more from Marchand and Seguin. I think that the Bruins, after their amazing comeback in game 7 against Toronto, will finally wake up and play more like the team that went to win it all two years ago. All lines will be contributing, and I think the Rangers will have their hands full. This series is going to be decided by a goal or two, and I would be surprised to see many high-scoring games in this one.
Prediction: Bruins in 7
Chicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings
An original six match-up is almost always going to be a good series, and this one is no different. These are two teams that have gotten accustomed to winning, so both teams are going to battle hard to win. Chicago only lost seven games in the regular season, and I don’t see that trend changing anytime soon. The Blackhawks are just too solid, from top to bottom. They have some of the best forwards in the league, and their goalies have exceeded all expectations. Detroit, although still a strong team, is going to have a hard time keeping up with the Blackhawks. The Red Wings are getting up there in age, and the team still has yet to recover from losing Lidstrom.
Prediction: Chicago in 6
Los Angeles Kings vs San Jose Sharks
This is a tough match up to decide on. Both of these team played very well in the first round, and I expect that strong play to carry on into round 2. San Jose is trying to get a huge monkey of their back, by actually doing well in the postseason. They have built a reputation of being an offensive powerhouse during the regular season, only to fizzle out when the playoffs start. They weren’t the usual powerhouse this season, but they easily took care of the Canucks in four games. The Kings are trying to win back-to-back cups, and Jonathan Quick has been playing like the Conn Smythe-winning goalie from last year. Quick has to keep that up for the kings to get by the sharks. Making mistakes against the sharks is going to be very costly. However, it’s also going to be difficult for the Sharks to score on Quick if he continues to play the way he did in round 1. Like the Bruins-Rangers series, this is going to be decided by a goal or two.
Prediction: San Jose in 7