Monday, May 13, 2013

First Round Review and Second Round Predictions

Time to take a look back at the first round predictions and launch into my fearless second round prognostications. Here is what I said about the first round:

Western Conference

Chicago vs. Minnesota

Prediction: Chicago in 5

Reality:       Chicago in 5

Too much horsepower from the Blackhawks to begin with, but when starting goaltender for the Wild Niklas Backstrom went down with an injury before game one, the Wild's chances of winning this series went to zero. Josh Harding played well, but the Wild couldn't muster enough defense to keep him from being under siege. By contrast, the Wild could not bury pucks when they had the opportunity.

Anaheim vs Detroit

Prediction: Anaheim in 6

Reality:       Detroit in 7

I said that if the Wings were going to have any chance of winning this series, Jimmy Howard had to play spectacularly. He did. Add in the fact that several of the Wings younger players stepped up along with the steadying veteran play of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, and the Wings were poised to pull off an upset. The Ducks did not get enough consistency out of their stars like Getzlaf, Ryan, Perry, and Selanne. At times, they were exceptionally strong and at times, they disappeared.

Vancouver vs. San Jose

Prediction: Vancouver in 5

Reality:       San Jose in 4

The Canucks were the more talented team offensively, but the Sharks were not far behind. The difference between the two teams was simply heart. The Sharks imposed their will on the Canucks, and rather than man up and respond, they chose to dive and whine for calls from the officials. The goaltending carousel did help either, as neither Loungo nor Schneider could seem to establish rhythm or make the timely stop. Completely didn't see the Canucks falling apart like they did in this one.

St. Louis vs. Los Angeles

Prediction:  Los Angeles in 7

Reality:        Los Angeles in 6

After spotting the Blues a 2-0 lead in the series, the Kings asserted themselves and dominated the Blues for the next four games. Jonathan Quick was stellar, and his puck handling gaffe that cost the Kings game one did not seem to haunt him. The Blues are a big, physical team; the Kings were even more physical and shut down the Blues goal scorers in the final four games with stifling defense. The Blues had no response and were dispatched for the second straight year by the Kings.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh vs. New York Islanders

Prediction:  Pittsburgh in 5

Reality:        Pittsburgh in 6

The Pens are thanking their lucky stars that they have a quality back up in Tomas Vokoun. After a couple of shaky outing by Marc-Andre Fleury, Vokoun came on and steady the net and the Pens won two straight with him between the pipes. Credit the Isles, who battled and made it tougher on the Pens than many imagined. This series exposed a few weakness for the number one seeded Pens, and it will be interesting to see how they adjust for the second round.

Montreal vs. Ottawa

Prediction: Montreal in 6

Reality:       Ottawa in 5

The Sens got exceptional goaltending from Craig Anderson, timely scoring, and a heaping dose of nastiness in dispatching the Canadiens. I cannot recall seeing a line brawl in a Stanley Cup playoff game. Until this series. The Canadiens ran into a hot goaltender who stymied their scorers, but even more damaging for them was an injury bug that bit them hard. They lost starting netminder Carey Price and several other key players, and those losses were too much to overcome.

Boston vs Toronto

Prediction: Boston in 6

Reality:       Boston in 7

The Bruins had the experience and seemed to have the better talent. The upstart maple leafs gave the Bruins everything they wanted, and if not for a late game collapse in game 7, would have captured the series. I have to think the fact that the Bruins had 17 players in their line up that had played a game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs made the difference, as the Bruins scored three late goals in game 7 to send it to overtime before capturing the win. We will see if the Bruins have used all their luck and playoff mojo in this series as they move to the second round.

Washington vs New York Rangers

Prediction: Washington in 7

Reality:       New York in 7

Henrik Lundqvist showed why he is a Vezina winner as he stepped his game up to another level and out dueled Braden Holtby to help the Rangers win the series. The experience of the Rangers along with their toughness and perseverance were the difference in this series. Washington will look back at this series and rue the fact that their stars did not step up and play like stars.

So there you have it. In the first round, the View was 4 for 8 in his predictions. Now, on to the second round.

Western Conference

Chicago vs. Detroit

If the Blackhawks look past the Red Wings, they will find themselves on the golf course sooner than they expect. The Hawks have the best talent in the NHL, but they are going to have to bring it to take this series with the Wings. Never underestimate the ability of Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock to have his team ready to play. If the Wings can get to Hawks netminder Corey Crawford early, they will have a chance to win this series. The hawks have to challenge Jimmy Howard, and I believe they have the talent to make his life miserable.

Prediction: Blackhawks in 7

San Jose vs. Los Angeles

Two big, physical teams that will beat the tar out of each other is what this series portends. The Kings have shown they relish these types of games, and that will give them an edge as the series goes on. The Sharks have to have stellar play from Antii Niemi if they are going to have a chance to win. He has been hot of late and that strong play has to continue. The Kings will eventually wear down the Sharks, but it will be a rough series.

Prediction: Kings in 7

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh vs Ottawa

The Pens are an explosive team that has the ability to fill the net. The Sens have a wall in net in the form of Craig Anderson. If the Ottawa netminder can continue his outstanding play and get some help from the skaters in front of him, the Senators can push the Penguins. The big question for Pittsburgh is going to be how Marc-Andre Fleury plays. If he is on his game, the Penguins should win this series. If he struggles, they will turn to experienced backup Tomas Vokoun, but that would no doubt rattle their confidence. Look for the Senators to be surprisingly tough, especially if Anderson is on his game.

Prediction: Penguins in 6

Boston vs New York Rangers

The question for the Bruins is will there be any gas in the tank after an emotional and physically draining first round win over the Maple Leafs. The Bruins will look to make this a physical, chippy series. They will find a willing dance partner in the Rangers. If Rick Nash can find his game, the Rangers should win this series. That is a very big "if" as he was a non-factor in the opening series with the Capitals. This series will be a war of attrition, and I think that favors the Bruins.

Prediction: Bruins in 7

There you have it. For hockey fans, this is a wonderful time of year to watch intense hockey with everything on the line.

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