Sunday, May 17, 2009

NHL Conference Finals Preview

Here's looking ahead to the conference finals. I nailed all but the Carolina win last round even though I liked them going in. All four teams remaining are the NHL's first 12 franchises.

Eastern Conference

4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs 6. Carolina Hurricanes- This is a very tough one for me to predict. The teams are so similar. Since Feb. 15, only the Canes have had a better record than the Pens. The story line are a plenty as well. Staal vs. Staal, even Bill Cowher, now a Hurricane fan is being talked about.

In net is a spectacular match up. Fluery vs. Ward. First of all, get off Fluery's back. He's the main reason the Pens are playing still today. While Fluery gives the Pens huge saves at huge moments, Cam Ward is the best goaltender in the playoffs right now. Edge to the Canes. Ward has NEVER lost a playoff series. I give the forwards advantage to the Pens. Eric Staal has been amazing for the Canes, but Sidney Crosby is playing like the best player in the world and the Pens just have more talent top to bottom.

Give the Canes the edge on the blue line. Way to many defensive breakdowns for the Guins in the post season. Coaching is a push. Both coaches took over mid season and turned their teams around. the series will be won by the special teams. Huge edge to the Pens. The power play has gotten better and the penalty kill has been very good against two potent power plays in Philadelphia and Washington. The Canes are skilled but just aren't as skilled as the Penguins.

If the Pens play their game, an up tempo one and focus on getting the puck to the net and creating traffic in front of Ward , they should be fine. If not, Cam Ward will win this series. My pick is the Penguins in 6

Western Conference

2. Detroit Red Wings vs 4. Chicago Blackhawks- This could be a very fun series to watch. No team is more fun to watch than the Hawks. They just get after it and play 100mph for 60 minutes. The Hawks can match the Wings tempo and may even set the tempo for the series. The one thing the Hawks won't be able to match is the Wings playoff experience. The Wings in the playoffs are just a different animal to deal with.

Even though both net minders have won the Stanley Cup, Chris Osgood will be the difference. He has been here so many times before. Talk about a guy that never gets the credit he deserves. Osgood is top 10 all time in victories and has hoisted the cup on numerous occasions. The Wings talent and experience will carry them.

My pick is Detroit in 6 and that is very bad news for the Penguins.

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