Thursday, April 29, 2010

2010 NHL Playoffs - Round Two

If you're looking for information on this morning's EKOS poll, scroll down.

The first round was definitely exciting, with upsets galore. While everyone who was expected to win did in the Western Conference, Nashville, Phoenix, and Los Angeles all gave the eventual winners good scares. And in the East, only Pittsburgh remains as one of the top-four in the second round.

My Montreal Canadiens went and upset the Washington Capitals last night, and I couldn't be happier. I didn't believe it would happen, but after two wins in a row and Jaroslav Halak showing why he is the goaltender of the future, it was bound to happen.

My predictions for the first round were a little off. I only got five out of eight correct. I incorrectly thought Buffalo, New Jersey, and Washington would advance. As noted in an earlier post, commenter AJR79 was the most accurate predictor, and I invite everyone to post their predictions for the second round in the comments here. All comments received before 21h00 eastern tonight, before the puck is dropped in San Jose, will be eligible to win the prize for the closest guess for the second round - a blog post with your predictions for the third round and a paragraph or two to share your political thoughts.

So, here are my predictions for the second round.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens

No one thought Montreal would beat Washington. But they did. Now, Pittsburgh is a very different team than the Capitals. They are more structural sound, have a solid goaltender, and play tight defense. But I wasn't all that impressed with them against the Ottawa Senators, who were not playing their best. While Sidney Crosby has been on a tear with 14 points in six games, I'm starting (or wanting) to believe that these Montreal Canadiens could be like the Edmonton Oilers of a few years back. Mike Cammalleri has 10 points in seven games, and Jaroslav Halak has a .939 save percentage. I think they could pull out another upset. So rather than go with my head, like I did in the Washington series, I'm going with my heart.

Prediction: Montreal Canadiens win in seven.

Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers

This will be a rough series. The Bruins will be bolstered by the return of Marc Savard, and they will need him because their top scorer is Mark Recchi (five points). Tuukka Rask has been playing very well, but Buffalo was severely hamstrung by the loss of Tomas Vanek. Philadelphia took down a very good team in New Jersey and Mike Richards has been playing great, with eight points in five games. Brian Boucher out-dueled Martin Brodeur in the first round, so there's no reason to think he can't do it again the green Rask.

Prediction: Philadelphia Flyers in six.

San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings

Phoenix gave Detroit a run for their money, but that is what they need to be ready for San Jose. The Sharks are a good team, but they are the same team that has choked in the playoffs every year. Joe Pavelski and Ryan Clowe aren't supposed to be their top scorers, while Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are doing great for Detroit. The saying goes that, to win, you need your best players to be your best players. And that is what is happening for Detroit.

Prediction: Detroit Red Wings in six.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks

This will be a fun series to watch. These two teams met in the second round last year, and Chicago got the best of the Canucks. But the Blackhawks still have a question mark in net in Antti Niemi and while they've added Marian Hossa, the Canucks have added Mikael Samuelsson, who has 11 points in six games. Roberto Luongo won't let this opportunity slide, and the Canucks just seem to be on a roll.

Prediction: Vancouver Canucks in six.

So, that would set up Detroit-Vancouver and Montreal-Philadelphia as the conference finals. What fun!

Get your predictions in before the puck drops in the San Jose-Detroit game at 21h00 tonight.