Sunday, May 16, 2010

Re-View and Pre-View: A Look at the Second Round and the Conference Finals

It's time for the View to look back at his second round picks and see how they turned out, and look ahead to the conference finals. Without further ado, here is a review of the second round of the playoffs:

Pittsburgh versus Montreal

The Pick: Pittsburgh in 6

Outcome: Montreal in 7

Jaroslav Halak continued to shine in post season play as he was outstanding in net for the Canadiens. As solid as his play was, the defense in front of him did a great job of limiting the high powered flightless birds offense. The Canadiens were very solid in the neutral zone, aggressive on the forecheck, and generally did a great job of controlling the Penguins scoring threats. Nevertheless, the Penguins had a chance to win the series with a seventh game on their home ice. However, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury absolutely melted down in the deciding contest, getting pulled in the second period after allowing 4 goals on 13 shots. For the Habs, their storybook season continues as they have now knocked off the beasts of the East with their victories over Washington and Pittsburgh.

Philadelphia versus Boston

The Pick: Boston in 7

Outcome: Philadelphia in 7

The Bruins looked as if they were going to sweep this series, jumping out to a 3-0 behind Tuuka Rask and an offense that scored timely goals from the entire line up. However, the Bruins lost Marco Sturm and David Kreiji, and those injuries proved devastating to them as their offense went into a funk. After losing three straight games, the Bruins had a chance to win the series on home ice. They jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the contest and then proceeded to implode, eventually losing the game 4-3. This is a series that will be a sore spot for Bruins fans for a long time to come, and is being referred to as one of the greatest collapses in sports history.

San Jose versus Detroit

The Pick: Detroit in 6

Outcome: San Jose in 5

The Sharks made a giant step toward shedding the label of perennial playoff choke artists with a very solid series against the Wings. Uncharacteristically, the Wings spent a lot of time in the sin bin, and the Sharks made them pay for their transgressions. With the exception of a 7-1 debacle in game 4, the Sharks looked like the better team throughout the series. Evgeni Nabokov was strong in net, but the real story of this series was the play of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Both players have been notorious for disappearing in the playoffs, but they were prominent in this matchup, playing up to their regular season prowess. The Sharks defense did a great job of limiting the explosiveness of the Wings offense, as Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, and Fransen (with the exception of game 4) were non-factors in the series.

Vancouver versus Chicago

The Pick: Chicago in 7

Outcome: Chicago in 6

As this series went along, Chicago just exerted their will on the Canucks. Dustin Byfuglien was a beast, scoring six goals in the series and generally creating havoc in front of Roberto Luongo. Luongo looked good in spurts, but generally was shaky throughout the series. The Chicago defense was very good in front of Antti Niemi in shutting down the Sedins, Mikael Samuelson, and Alex Burrows. Chicago was the more physical of the two teams, and their bruising style of play took a toll on the Canucks. Vancouver opened the series with a win at the United Center, and looked as if they would make this a real contest between the two teams. Chicago then reeled off three straight wins and were dominating in the process. Yet again, Vancouver will have a long off season to stew about their shortcomings against the Hawks.

Once again, the View has proven why you should never follow his advice when placing your bets on hockey games. 25% success rate in the second round. Yikes!

Is that going to stop me from making my fearless picks for the finals? Is our tax code fair? Uh, wait. Anyway, on to the picks for the finals.

Philadelphia versus Montreal

The Pick: Philadelphia in 7

The storybook run for the Habs comes to an end here. Philadelphia will be too physical and put too much pressure on the Habs for them to pull out this series. I expect Halak to continue to play very soundly, but the pressure that the Flyers will bring to this matchup will be too much. Michael Leighton has moved back into the starting tender's position for the Flyers, and I see him playing a strong series. Look for the Flyers defense to contain the Smurfs from Montreal and for them to cool down the red hot Michael Camillieri. Montreal is playing loose and with the mindset of an underdog, and will make it a tightly contested series.

San Jose versus Chicago

The pick: Chicago in 7

This is one of the most compelling finals matchups in a while. Can San Jose's big guns continue to produce? Will Antti Niemi hold up under the relentless pressure from the Sharks offense? This series could be decided by the play of the third and fourth lines for each team. If Chicago can outplay the Sharks in this regard- and I think they will- then they will capture this series. Niemi is going to have to be at his best against the Sharks, but I look for the Hawks defense to step up in front of him. I expect the powerful Hawks offense to eventually get the best of the Sharks defense. This is a series that is going to be fun to watch.

And there you have it, my fearless, and some would say faulty, finals predictions. Remember, these are for amusement purposes only. Meaning that my predictions are always good for a laugh.

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