NHL Playoffs, Take 2 – ACTION!!!
Best. First Round. Ever.
I was away on vacation for the start of the 2011 NHL Playoffs, so I made no picks or prognostications. Rather than make picks with the help of knowing early round results, I choose to wait for the second round.
Thank God I did. I’m looking at you Vancouver and Montreal. Those two series looked like they could be over early, but ended up going the full seven games. Half of the first round went to game seven and was characterized by comebacks and overtime.
The Detroit Red Wings were the only ones to have relatively smooth rise though the first round, dispatching the Winnipeg…err…Phoenix Coyotes in four.
I wanted to get my picks on record before the start of the second round, and I’ll add my reasoning soon. So here’s how I see Round 2 going:
- EASTERN CONFERENCE
Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
I want to pick the Bruins in this series. I just find it tough to pick a team that bounces between three goaltenders this late in the year. But the Flyers proved last year that they can overcome that weakness.
The Bruins have the advantage in goal, but their offensive struggles, especially on the powerplay, will be their shortcoming.
Flyers in 7
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washingtion Capitals
I was a bit surprised by the Lightning getting passed the Penguins, but then again the Pens were missing their biggest pieces. They won’t have that luxury with the Capitals.
The Caps looked like they were struggling early on in the season, but they finished the year very strong. Both teams are healthy and it should be a good series with a lot of offense. It cold go seven, but…
Capitals in 6
- WESTERN CONFERENCE
Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks
Could the Canucks be susceptible to a second round letdown? I could see them lose the first game at home to a gritty, defensive, and well coached Predator squad. After defeating their nemesis, the Blackhawks, the Canucks will have to be sure not to underestimate Nashville.
The Canucks have depth in all facets of the the game with Daniel and Henrik Sedin (Hart favourites this year and last), Ryan Kesler (Selke candidate) and Roberto Luongo (Vezina candidate). On the other hand, the Preds rely on their defensive prowess with Norris candidate Shea Weber and their own Vezina nominee Pekka Rinne.
Ultimately, I think the Preds will have trouble scoring, which is helpful in trying to win. Of course all bets are off if Luongo doesn’t perform at the level he is capable of on a consistent basis.
Canucks in 6
San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings
Detroit is Detroit. Find a preview of them from any other year and it will apply. I remember thinking they were going to drop off because of age in previous years, but I will never make that mistake again. These guys just know how to win hockey games in the spring.
San Jose on the hand, has shown a propensity for falling short in the spring. Combine those to two historical elements and it doesn’t look good for the Sharks.
The well-rounded veteran Red Wings will have an answer for whatever the Sharks throw at them.
Red Wings in 5
I see the potential for upset in the VAN-NAS and BOS-PHI series more than the others. In the meantime, let me know how you see the second round going.