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2nd Round, Here We Come!!!

Well that was one crazy round of hockey. My first attempt at publishing picks was ruined by Eastern Conference teams not informed they were the underdog. I take solace in he belief that, while I am sure many had picked upsets, no had the top three seeds in the East bowing out to the teams that practically backed into the playoffs.

But all that is in the past now, so we look forward to what should be an entertaining round two.

Pittsburgh Penguins v. Montreal Canadiens

Montreal competes one amazing challenge and is faced with another. I suppose that is the nature of the 8th seed. As much as I love picking underdogs and hot goalies, I just don’t see Montreal being able to do it again.

Pittsburgh is a much more complete team than Washington was and they have a goaltender that is, not only playoff tested, but playoff proven. Oh, and they have some other guy named Crosby that has essentially won everything there is to e won, so now he has to try and win it all twice.

If I had to bet: Pittsburgh in 6

Boston Bruins v. Philadelphia Flyers

I picked both of these to fall in the first round. My logic was that they had both backed into the playoffs, had some serious question marks, and were facing solid opponents. Well that didn’t work, but I am hesitant to change my logic in making a pick for this round.

While these are the same two team much has changed. Boston is getting back Marc Savard, the linchpin to their offense and won;t be facing the same caliber of goaltender as Ryan Miller. Brian Boucher performed great in the first round, but I would be hesitant to look for the same level of play, especially after sitting for over a week. In the Bruin goal, Tuukka Rask out dueled Vezina nominee Miller.

While it seems that Boston actually managed to get stronger following their first round series, Philly has lost a couple of major pieces. Of course I mentioned that I think the long layoff will work to the disadvantage of the previously hot Brian Boucher. I am sure he would have much preferred to get right back in the net. Add to that, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne are both sidelined for another few weeks, and the question marks keep growing. Ian Laperriere is another guy that was built for playoff hockey that will unfortunately not be available.

If I had to bet: Boston in 7, because that first round taught me not to underestimate the desire of Philly. I just think they are goingto run into a team that has more emotion and drive than the Devils had. Could be over in 6.

San Jose Sharks v. Detroit Red Wings

My analysis of this series is less about examing the components of each team and more about looking at them as two separate competitive entities.

Detroit is the continuous Cup contender. Filled with talented players with extensive playoff experience, I find their age is often overexaggerated (by myself on occasion) because of a few longstanding members; namely Lidstrom, Draper and Holmstrom, all of whom are still productive. The team’s on-ice leaders are Henrik Zetterbrg (29) and Pavek Datsyuk (31). Both players are in their prime and excel in all aspects of the game.

The Wings are coming off a first round series against the higher seeded Phoenix Coyotes. The Yotes battle Detroit hard, but inevitably failed to show up in game seven.

San Jose on the hand, is the perrennial playoff choker. A team laced with Olympians at every position, the Sharks have made a career of making prognosticators look foolish. Led by Joe Thornton, SJ has the ability to put together one of the most offensively dominant lines the NHL has seen in decades. But will the show up when it counts?

In the first round San Jose was led offensively by Joe Pavelski, Ryan Clowe, Dan Boyle, Devon Setoguchi and Douglas Murray? Yes, Douglas Murray had more points against Colorado than Heatley, Thornton or Marleau. Marleau was the only one of them that had a goal.

Much like Pjoenix Colorado surprised many this year with their performance despite stumbling a bit in the second half of the year. Still San Jose should have been able to handle them fairly easily. I am not saying they had to sweep the Avs, but they were allowed to hang around and that could have been costly.

If I had to bet: Detroit in 6. Give Detroit the same glimmer of hope, San Jose gave Colorado and they won’t let you back in.

Vancouver Canucks v. Chicago Blackhawks

This is gonna be a doozy of a series. Two highly skilled teams that don’t mind getting physical. Some of the games top offensive players. Oh, and did I mention they don’t like one another very much.

The city of Chicago has become relevant again in the hockey world thanks to a talented core of Toews, Kane, Keith and Seabrook. Vancouver is led by Henrik and Daniel Sedin’s ability to find each other even if they were in separate sensory deprivation chamber and the goaltending of Roberto Luongo.

Between the pipes is the on clear cut advantage I can find for either team. Chicago has good good performances from Antti Niemi, but gained the starting position more by default, as neither he nor Christobal Huet showed the consistency I’m sure Joel Quinsville would like.

I’d give Chicago a slight advantage on offense because after Kane and Toews they have Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp along with some others that will chip in. The Canucks are no slouch though, with NHL regular season leading scorer being comlimented by the red hot Mikael Samuellson, Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler.

Both teams have solid defences, with guys that move the puck and help out the offense.

If I had to bet:Chicago in 7 only because I picked them to win the Cup in another pool. Hard to win the Cup when you’re ousted in the second round. But honestly, there won’t be tighter, more hard fought series. Nothing will surprise me. Sorry for hedging.

Pittsburgh Penguins v. Montreal Canadiens

Montreal competes one amazing challenge and is faced with another. I suppose that is the nature of the 8th seed. As much as I love picking underdogs and hot goalies, I just don’t see Montreal being able to do it again.

Pittsburgh is a much more complete team than Washington was and they have a goaltender that is, not only playoff tested, but playoff proven. Oh, and they have some other guy named Crosby that has essentially won everything there is to e won, so now he has to try and win it all twice.

If I had to bet: Pittsburgh in 6

Boston Bruins v. Philadelphia Flyers

I picked both of these to fall in the first round. My logic was that they had both backed into the playoffs, had some serious question marks, and were facing solid opponents. Well that didn’t work, but I am hesitant to change my logic in making a pick for this round.

While these are the same two team much has changed. Boston is getting back Marc Savard, the linchpin to their offense and won;t be facing the same caliber of goaltender as Ryan Miller. Brian Boucher performed great in the first round, but I would be hesitant to look for the same level of play, especially after sitting for over a week. In the Bruin goal, Tuukka Rask out dueled Vezina nominee Miller.

While it seems that Boston actually managed to get stronger following their first round series, Philly has lost a couple of major pieces. Of course I mentioned that I think the long layoff will work to the disadvantage of the previously hot Brian Boucher. I am sure he would have much preferred to get right back in the net. Add to that, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne are both sidelined for another few weeks, and the question marks keep growing. Ian Laperriere is another guy that was built for playoff hockey that will unfortunately not be available.

If I had to bet: Boston in 7, because that first round taught me not to underestimate the desire of Philly. I just think they are goingto run into a team that has more emotion and drive than the Devils had. Could be over in 6.

San Jose Sharks v. Detroit Red Wings

My analysis of this series is less about examing the components of each team and more about looking at them as two separate competitive entities.

Detroit is the continuous Cup contender. Filled with talented players with extensive playoff experience, I find their age is often overexaggerated (by myself on occasion) because of a few longstanding members; namely Lidstrom, Draper and Holmstrom, all of whom are still productive. The team’s on-ice leaders are Henrik Zetterbrg (29) and Pavek Datsyuk (31). Both players are in their prime and excel in all aspects of the game.

The Wings are coming off a first round series against the higher seeded Phoenix Coyotes. The Yotes battle Detroit hard, but inevitably failed to show up in game seven.

San Jose on the hand, is the perrennial playoff choker. A team laced with Olympians at every position, the Sharks have made a career of making prognosticators look foolish. Led by Joe Thornton, SJ has the ability to put together one of the most offensively dominant lines the NHL has seen in decades. But will the show up when it counts?

In the first round San Jose was led offensively by Joe Pavelski, Ryan Clowe, Dan Boyle, Devon Setoguchi and Douglas Murray? Yes, Douglas Murray had more points against Colorado than Heatley, Thornton or Marleau. Marleau was the only one of them that had a goal.

Much like Pjoenix Colorado surprised many this year with their performance despite stumbling a bit in the second half of the year. Still San Jose should have been able to handle them fairly easily. I am not saying they had to sweep the Avs, but they were allowed to hang around and that could have been costly.

If I had to bet: Detroit in 6. Give Detroit the same glimmer of hope, San Jose gave Colorado and they won’t let you back in.

Vancouver Canucks v. Chicago Blackhawks

This is gonna be a doozy of a series. Two highly skilled teams that don’t mind getting physical. Some of the games top offensive players. Oh, and did I mention they don’t like one another very much.

The city of Chicago has become relevant again in the hockey world thanks to a talented core of Toews, Kane, Keith and Seabrook. Vancouver is led by Henrik and Daniel Sedin’s ability to find each other even if they were in separate sensory deprivation chamber and the goaltending of Roberto Luongo.

Between the pipes is the on clear cut advantage I can find for either team. Chicago has good good performances from Antti Niemi, but gained the starting position more by default, as neither he nor Christobal Huet showed the consistency I’m sure Joel Quinsville would like.

I’d give Chicago a slight advantage on offense because after Kane and Toews they have Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp along with some others that will chip in. The Canucks are no slouch though, with NHL regular season leading scorer being comlimented by the red hot Mikael Samuellson, Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler.

Both teams have solid defences, with guys that move the puck and help out the offense.

If I had to bet:Chicago in 7 only because I picked them to win the Cup in another pool. Hard to win the Cup when you’re ousted in the second round. But honestly, there won’t be tighter, more hard fought series. Nothing will surprise me. Sorry for hedging.

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