After going 7 of 8 in round 1, missing only the Carolina win over New Jersey, it is time to make my predictions for round 2 of the playoffs and this should prove to be a tougher round to predict.
Boston vs Carolina
This is probably the easiest series to predict. As significant as Carolina’s win over New Jersey was, NEw Jersey seemed to do something they rarely ever do by giving up a number of late goals to lose games. Boston should prove to be a far more challening foe than New Jersey and as good as Cam Ward has been, I don’t think he can steal more than a game or two and Boston’s superior depth up front and far superior defense will be enough for the Bruins to easily win the series. Boston in 5.
Washington vs Pittsburgh
This might be the new premier rivalry in the NHL with two of the premier offenses in the game plus the heated russian rivalry of Ovechkin vs Malkin while Sidney Crosby desperately tries to strut his stuff in order to nor be left behind in the offensive flair department. Both teams have solid supporting casts as well with Backstrom, Semin and Green in Washington and Gonchar, Sykora, Kunitz and others in Pittsburgh. The difference in this series might come down to goaltending and whether young Capitals goalie, Simean Varlamov can keep up his outstanding play because Marc-Andre Fleury is really developing into a confident and more than competent number 1 goalie. Varlamov will be facing a much more formidable offense in the Penguins than he faced in the Rangers and I am not sure he can keep up his play and Theodore just isn’t a viable option. Penguins in 6 in an extremely entertaining series.
Detroit vs Anaheim
Like the Washington-Pittsburgh series, this is one I am really looking forward to watching. There is no doubt that these two teams have the best group of defensemen in the NHL. Pronger-Niedermayer-Beauchemin-Whitney vs Lidstrom-Rafalski-Kronwall-Stuart. Only Boston would come remotely close to those defense groupings. So, if you assume the defenses cancel each other out the series will come down to Detroits added depth up front to Anaheim’s likely edge in goal. Osgood was good in the first round but Columbus is not an offensive juggernaught and they seemed overwhelmed bu their first playoff experience and just didn’t put up much of a challenge. Anaheim should prove to be a tougher challenge for Osgood. As for Anaheim’s defense and goaltending, they pretty much shut down a very good San Jose offense so there is no reason they may not be able to stand up to Detroit. It is really difficult to bet against such a talented team like the Red Wings but I am just not confident in Osgood being good enough. Anaheim in six.
Vancouver vs Chicago
Chicago got a bit lucky in that they played a pretty injury riddled Calgary team but Vancouver will prove to be a much bigger challenge to the young Blackhawk team. They have depth on defense, can put out a couple of lines that can score a bit, and a lights out goalie that should prove to be far superior than what Kiprusoff was in the first round. Khabibulin has been very good in the playoffs and all but won the deciding game six game against Calgary but he won’t be good enough to give the Blackhawks a win over the Canucks. Vancouver in 5.