I did pretty well in the first round. The Sharks let me down (AGAIN) and I missed on one upset in the Blues who got swept, but here goes my thoughts on round two.
1. Boston Bruins vs 6 Carolina Hurricanes- What a thrilling finish to game 7 of the Carolina-New Jersey series. This was a great series all the way around. Goaltending will be huge in this one. Thomas was the better goalie during the season, but Ward may be the better post-season guy. I expect Ward to steal a couple games here, but when it comes down to it, the Bruins have more firepower and their blue line is a lot better. Special teams is always a key and I give Boston the edge here. My pick is Bruins in 6.
2 Washington Capitals vs 4. Pittsburgh Penguins.- Will the long layoff hurt the Pens? Can the Caps carry their game 7 momentum into this series. A lot of questions, but one answer I know is that this is the series the NHL wants. The leagues 3 best players in the same series. The rivalry that exists between Ovechkin and Crosby (and Malkin). This is as close as a ratings getter that the NHL can ask for. Now if in Pittsburgh if we could only get all the games off FSN Pittsburgh and onto Versus and NBC. This series deserves better than below average coverage.
The Caps dominated the Pens during the regular season, but that was a different team. Give the Pens the edge in net. Varlamov is a great story, but Fluery is huge in big games. The talent level between the teams is about even. Two things must happen for the Pens to win the series. First, they have to get scoring from their top 4 forwards. No matter the combination of Kunitz, Guerin, Fedotenko, Sykora and Satan, they have to produce. Take away Guerin's game 2 performance and this group has given the team next to nothing.
The other battle the Pens must win is the special teams. They must neutralize the Caps dangerous power play, I don't think they will have a problem there, but they must get their own power play straightened out. The need to score with the man advantage to win the series. I feel they will address the problems. My pick is penguins in 6.
1. Detroit Red Wings vs. 8 Anaheim Ducks- This will be a good series, so throw the seeds out. Both teams have been on a roll. I give the Ducks the edge on the blue line and in net. They have cup experience and if the youngster Hiller plays the way he did against the Sharks, then he can extend the series. On the other hand I give the defending champs the edge with their forwards and special teams. I feel this series could be great and would not be surprised if Anaheim pulls the upset. However, my pick is Red Wings in 7.
3. Vancouver Canucks vs 4. Chicago Blackhawks- After being the first team to wrap up a series, the Canucks haven't played in almost 2 weeks. They have to have some rust on them. I give the Canucks the advantage at every position except forwards. I really like the Blackhawks youth and talent there. The combination of youth, speed and the Canucks long layoff will be the difference. The smart pick is to take Vancouver, but I'm going with the Blackhawks in 6.