The Fat Lady has finally sung her final performances of the opening round of the playoffs and now we move forward to the second round. And so it’s time to once again show off your personal playoff prognosticatorial proficiency as we did for the first round. And remember…it is still perfectly legal in the state of Georgia to display your “Quad-P” in public.
But, before we begin…tell us how you did in the first round with your prognosticatorial prowess.
Me? Well, with last night’s game-seven wins by Washington and Carolina, I went 6-2. I nailed the 6-game win by Chicago as well as correctly picked Vancouver, Detroit, Boston, Carolina and Washington. The Ducks and Penguins…not so much.
As for last night…could you have asked for two better games to decide those series? Varlamov gives up an early one to the Rangers then shuts ‘em down the rest of the way. Oh, and the Caps defense allows New York only one shot on goal for the entire third period, when the game and series is on the line. Then in New Jersey, Carolina scores twice against Marty the Magnificent in the last minute and twenty seconds to steal that game seven.
Eric Staal’s game winner was his fifth of the playoff series with the Devils. And did I hear correctly that Cam Ward became the first goalie to win the first three game-sevens he’s started in? Very impressive.
I thought the Caps would take the Rangers in 5…not 7. But, after they dropped the first two games against the Rangers, they then won four of the next five…so that counts, right?…right?
Anywhoooo…let’s start in the Eastern Conference, where three of the top four seeded teams advanced.
Boston vs. Carolina
The Boston Bruins can come out of their mini-hibernation and prepare for the Carolina Hurricanes…who’s terrific game-seven comeback in New Jersey left the Devils and their crowd stunned. Can that type of thrilling victory propel them to success in their second-round date with the top-seeded Bruins? Maybe….maybe not. Boston might suffer a little from the week-long layoff, but I think any rust will be gone by…oh…the second period of game one. Michael Ryder and Phil Kessel led the scoring for Boston with 7 and 6 points respectively in the four games against Montreal. In goal for or Boston, Tim Thomas will take his .946 SV% and put them up against Carolina’s offense that netted 17 goals in their seven game opening round series.
I’m taking Boston in 6.
Washington vs. Pittsburgh Ovechkin vs. Crosby
Ah yes…the series matchup that the league officials and the networks have been simply slobbering over themselves in anticipation of…Washington and Pittsburgh. Ovie vs. Sid the Kid. Sid Crosby and Evgeni Malkin…who had 8 goals and 9 assists between them in their 6-game win in round one will go up against Marc-Andre Fleury who stopped 178 of the 193 shots he faced against the Flyers. They’ll go up against that new kid on the block, Simeon Varlamov. After the Caps gave up four goals to the Rangers with Jose Theodore between the pipes, Bruce Boudreau made the move and place Varlamov in goal. In the next six games he allowed only seven goals. He goes into the series with Pittsburgh with a 1.17 GAA, .952 SV%) and a pair of shututs in his brief playoff career.
Good series brewing here. Caps in 7 great games.
Now let’s head out west, where two of the lower seeds advanced.
Anaheim vs. Detroit
First up out west, it’ll be the Anaheim Ducks going against the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings…who now find themselves as the top seed in the Western Conference. I admit that I underestimated the Ducks in their first-round matchup with San Jose, so I don’t wanna make that mistake again. However, if the Wings are going to get a .936 SV% from Chris Osgood, (as they did against Columbus), to go with that potent offence…then it’s hard not to side with them. Jason Hiller had a stellar series against the Sharks, (.957 SV% and a 1.64 GAA), but he’s facing The Big Red Borg team that has incredibly balanced scoring. They were led by Johan Franzen’s 2 goals and 4 assists vs. Columbus… followed by Daniel Cleary’s 5 points, then there are 6 players that tallied 4 points in the sweep against the CBJs.
I think this will be quite the fun series to watch and I’ll go with Detroit in 7.
Chicago vs. Vancouver
Then there is the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks in what is sure to be a dandy! The Canucks hold the home-ice advantage due simply to the fact that they won the Northwest Division, but Chicago’s 104 points were 4 more than Vancouver’s. The Blackhawks employed a great physical game against Cal-GARY and needs to bring that against the Knuckleheads as well. Both teams have fairly stingy defenses…Chicago giving up only 2.55 GA/G in the regular season, (5th in the NHL)…Vancouver giving up 2.60 GA/G, (7th in the NHL). Chicago tends to score more, (3.17 G/G vs. Vancouver’s 2.96)…so maybe one could pick the Blackhawks due to the offense?
Maybe, but not me…I’ll go with Vancouver because there is no way I’m going against any team with Roberto Luongo and his .962 SV% first round performance.
Canucks in 6.
By now you’ve heard about the hit that Tobias Enstrom took during the World Championships. If you haven’t yet seen the video, here it is…with much thanks to Phil Foley of The Atlanta Thrashers Examiner.
What really spooked me when viewing it was the look on his face after the incident. Tobias simply had no idea here he was while he was on the ice…Switzerland…Sweden…Atlanta…the moon? Scary!
He required some facial surgery and he’s missing some teeth. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for Enstrom.
Just Drop It
The Pittsburgh Penguins have elected to drop the “interim” tag from coach Dan Bylsma’s title. Last February, he took over a Penguins squad that was faltering and in danger of slipping out of playoff contention. Since that time, he’s guided the Pens to a 18-3-4 record and the first-round win against Philadelphia.
Duck Wings At TJ’s Sunday
Now that the 2nd round schedule is out, it looks like we’ll be watching the second game of the Anaheim-Detroit series at TJ’s on Sunday. 2:00 is the scheduled time for faceoff and I hope to see as many of you there as possible.