Better late than never...
Time to take a look at the second round and my predictions as well as my fearless prognostications for the conference champions.
Montreal vs Boston
Prediction: Boston in 7
Outcome: Montreal in 7
Too much speed and balanced scoring by the Canadiens did in the Bruins. Carey Price was stellar in net for the Candiens, and while Tuuka Rask was not bad at all, he did get outplayed by Price. The Bruins scoring touch evaded them in this series, especially from their top line. The Habs speed was too much for the Bruins in this series, keeping them back on their heels much of the series, and they refused to be drawn into the Bruins grind it out, physical style of play.
Pittsburgh vs New York
Prediction: New York in 7
Outcome: New York in 7
Too much heart and Henrik for the Pens to overcome. Down 3-1, the Rangers rallied behind Marty St. Louis, whose mother tragically passed away during the series. Playing on emotion, the Rangers stepped up their game and no one stepped up more than Henrik Lundqvist. He was outstanding in net and shut down the potent Pens attack in the final four games. Much will be said about the lack of production from Sidney Crosby, but the real problem for the Penguins was the lack of secondary scoring. Once Crosby and Malkin were contained, the Pens were in trouble.
Chicago vs Minnesota
Prediction: Chicago in 6
Outcome: Chicago in 6
The Wild and their stifling style of defense made this an interesting series, but eventually the offensive firepower of the Hawks and the solid play of Corey Crawford in net were too much for the Wild. This wasn't an easy series for the Hawks, but their talent eventually wore down the Wild. Crawford is playing with confidence and it showed in this series.
Los Angeles vs Anaheim
Prediction: Los Angeles in 7
Outcome: Los Angeles in 7
The Kings must have ice water in their veins as they won their second consecutive game 7 in the playoffs, blowing out the Ducks at the Honda Center. Balanced scoring and an unrelenting attack by the Kings, coupled with questions in the net for the Ducks, swung this series in favor of the Kings. John Gibson was superb for the Ducks until game 7, and you have to wonder if the pressure got to him. This was Teemu Selanne's last NHL game, which is the only reason I was sad to see the Ducks lose. The only reason.
Now on to the Conference final predictions.
New York vs Montreal
Prediction: Rangers in 6
If Lundqvist continues his stellar play, the Rangers will win this series. The speed and balance of the Habs will give the Rangers some problems, but the Rangers have the wheels to counter this aspect of the Habs game. By now, we all know Carey Price was injured in game one and will miss the rest of the series. This will be a huge blow to the Canadiens, but they have the talent to make this an interesting series. Interesting, but not enough in the tank to beat the Rangers.
Los Angeles vs Chicago
Prediction: Chicago in 6
Jonathan Quick has struggled against the Hawks, and I expect the offensive talent of Chicago to give him problems again. For the Kings to win this series, Quick will have to be exceptional. His counterpart, Corey Crawford is playing some of his best hockey right now, and I expect his level of play to continue. The Kings are going to have to be clicking on all cylinders to win this series, and you have to think that to grueling series that went to 7 games may have left the tank a bit empty.
There you have it folks.
It is the most wonderful time of year for hockey fans.