1) Well, an exciting opening round is in the books with 3 exciting game 7's finishing things up last evening. To wrap that up quickly and review our first round predictions, we went a decent 6 of 8 in predicting the series winners. The only series we were way off on was the Lightning-Habs series, where the Canadiens took care of business rather easily in 4. The Wild upsetting the Av's in a stunning OT game 7 thriller much less a shock to us. With all that in mind its time to move on as the next round starts in just a few hours when the Bruins and Montreal commence yet another chapter in their storied history.
2) First the East:
- Boston-VS-Montreal: Very little needs to be said about these teams with regard to their long playoff histories. The Canadiens have the all-time edge, but it's the Bruins who have won seven of their last 11 battles, including the last two in 2009 and 2011. Both teams have had lots of time off from their opening round wins and should be as healthy as teams can be this time of year. Not sure how meaningful it is but the Canadiens won three out of four of their meetings during the regular season. No team can throw out 4 solid lines like Boston. Their defense is solid and likely Vezina winner Tuuka Rask is there if they break down. Not that Price is any slouch in net. The element that the Habs have is team speed. Can Boston keep up with the pesky Canadiens? WE don't think they will be able to for 7 games, though it will be a bruising series. Canadiens in 7
- Pittsburgh-VS-New York: Just what Mr. Bettman wants. His best player (Crosby) verses the biggest media market. The obvious advantage for the Blue shirts is in goal, but Lundqvist hasn't exactly been stellar at times in the first round. We already know about Fleury's playoff issues. The Pens were fortunate to be playing an inferior Blue Jackets team in the opening round, else they'd be done. Still, they managed to win despite almost no help from their star players. We cant see that happening in consecutive series. They will have to shore up their defense. On the other side can Nash score a goal in the post season? If not, this could be a short series. WE believe the defense and goaltending of NY will be good enough to stretch the series, but not enough to hold back Pittsburgh from ultimately prevailing. Penguins in 6
3) The West:
- Anaheim-VS-Los Angeles: Yet, another battle of California. We feel the struggles the Ducks had against a much inferior Dallas team showed their many chincs in their armor. They will benefit from having a few days off, but is that really a help or will it make it more difficult to ramp things up again? There is no doubt that team leader Getzlaf, and Selanne needed the time off. Like the other West series, one team has a solid/stellar goalie (Quick) and the other has question marks. Who starts in goal Anaheim? Probably Hiller, but if he falters even a little Boudreau will give him the quick hook. We feel that will be the difference here. Goaltening, and the intangible winning feel the Kings seem to posses that propelled them here against a very tough, albeit shaky Shark team. Also like the other west series, this one will be easier for the eventual winner. Kings in 6
- Chicago-VS- Minnesota: The Wild coming off their thrilling 7 game OT win against the Avalanche get rewarded for their trouble by given the opportunity to now face the Stanley Cup champs. The Wild unfortunately for them have been snake bit in goal where injury after injury has reduced them to playing a rookie Darcy Kuemper, and the mentally ill Ilya Bryzgalov. With (another) injury, it looks like its Bryzgalov again. With the Hawks offense humming along against a very solid Blues team in the first round, we can't see the less experienced Wild with inferior goaltending stopping this juggernaut. The Black hawks got their needed rest to heal up and we only see the Wild as a small bump in their road toward the conference Finals. Black Hawks in 5