Round one is over and it supplied so dramatic finishes and some ….well, let’s just be nice and say not so dramatic. Now that we are set to begin the semi finals, the remaining four teams from each conference match up very well, and that means some very entertaining hockey for the next two weeks for all fans of this great game.
This also means that the same three HabsWorld writers are back to offer thier insights and predictions for round #2. We will be keeping a running tab on the predictions for some added fun, and bragging
Current Prediction Standings after round
Matt Godbout – 8 out of 8
Jonathan Rebelo 5 out of 8
Norman Szcyrek 4 out of 8
Now on to the predictions!
1. Montreal Canadiens vs. 6. Philadelphia
Jonathan Rebelo – MTL in 6
Norman Szcyrek -MTL in 6
Matt Godbout – MTL in 5
Concensus Pick: MTL in 6
Szcyrek – [MTL in 6]: Although Montreal had a 4-0 record against the Flyers in the regular season, and outscored them 15-6, do not expect this series to be a push over. Philadelphia goaltender Martin Biron has a penchant for playing big games against the Habs. Forwards Mike Richards & Daniel Briere have elevated their game, especially Briere who is leading all playoff scorers with 11 points after the first round. Montreal needs to use their speed to thier advantage, be aggressive on the forecheck, and dynamic while on offence. The team’s power play needs to wake up after scoring only 3 man advantage goals against Boston, after leading the NHL during the regular season. The offence and big game goaltending from Carey Price will be enough for the Habs to prevail
Rebelo – [MTL in 6]: Have the Canadiens learned their lesson? Will they now underestimate the Flyers? Lets hope not. Philadelphia is another team the Habs had resounding success against this year beating them all four times. Carey Price was 3-0 against Philadelphia this season with a 1.33 GAA and a .925 save percentage. Price also earned his first career shutout against
the Flyers 1-0 on February 16th. But playoffs is a different season as the Habs saw with the Boston Bruins. The Flyers upset the Capitals in a 7 game series, Daniel Briere leads the playoffs in scoring with 11 points, expect him to get the Chara treatment as the Bell Centre will BOOOO! Each time he touches the puck. This is another series which I feel the Habs dominate in most categories and with Koivu back I believe the Canadiens will score with more regularity.
Godbout – [MTL in 5]: If you asked any Montreal fan at the begining of the playoffs who they would like to play as the first two teams, the majority of answers would have been Boston and Philadelphia. Now that hindsight is in our favor, maybe some would regret the Boston pick and then think Philadelphia might be bad as well. Those fans would be wrong on both accounts.
Philadelphia while boasting more scoring prowess then the Bruins have little else to offer against the Habs speed, scoring and goaltending. Canadiens scoring will be up in this series and the Flyers don’t know to stop it.
Carey Price has now silenced all the critics with his “unproven” yet stellar playoff performance so far and there is no reason to think it will end now. Daniel Briere is on fire, but his jets will be snuffed out by the cold shoulder and avalanche of booing he will recieve whenever he touches the puck. If that tactic doesn’t work, watch for Briere to be flattened everytime he can be by the Canadiens forcheckers and defence corps. This series will not be an easy four wins for the Habs, but they will win four of the 5 they will play in this series, and that is my prediction.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 5. New York Rangers
Jonathan Rebelo – NYR in 6
Norman Szcyrek -Pitts in 7
Matt Godbout – NYR in 6
Concensus Pick: NYR in 6
Szcyrek – [PITTS in 7]: This series will have a little bit of everything. A young superstar in Sid the Kid takes on a fading superstar in Jaromir Jagr, good young goaltenders Henrik Lundqvist against Marc-Andre Fleury, tough guys Colton Orr vs. George Laraque, super pests Sean Avery against Jarkko Ruuttu. What more can you ask for ?
Godbout – [NYR in 6]: Pittsburgh had an easy go in the first round and that is all a fan can ask for. The trouble is coaches and players are now in a relaxed state without having to give a 100% effort and suddenly turning it on again will be an issue. The New York Rangers had a quick series with the Devils but it was not an easy one. The Devils were physical and had scoring chances but the depth of the Rangers was enough to put them over the top. Depth is not something the Penguins have past three superstars and it will show in this series. I like the Penguins youth and scoring, but defensively and in net they don’t have me convinced.
Rebelo – [NYR in 6]: Two very rested teams thanks to first round opponents they were able to sleep walk through. The Pittsburgh Penguins swept the Ottawa Senators and will have not played for a full week while the Rangers tamed the Devils in five and will end up having five days rest, good news for players trying to rest some injuries namely Sidney Crosby who leads the Penguins with 8 points but was not 100% in the first round. Goaltending is going to be key in this series and although M.A. Fleury posted some good stats in the first round, I believe he and the Penguins defense will be their downfall as they just do not stack up with the Rangers and Lundqvist. The Rangers are not going to float around and go periods without good scoring chances as the Senators did.
1. Detroit Red Wings vs. 6. Colorado
Jonathan Rebelo – DET in 7
Norman Szcyrek -DET in 6
Matt Godbout – COL in 7
Concensus Pick: DET in 7
Szcyrek – [DET in 6]: Another classic playoff matchup has the Red Wings facing the Avalanche. A big rivalry has existed between these two teams since the mid 1990’s. Some of the same veterans have recently returned to their old teams, with Peter Forsberg & Adam Foote returning to Colorado, and Darren McCarty going back to Detroit. During the regular season, Detroit was undefeated in 4 matches against the Avalanche, although all games were without the aforementioned veterans. Although some of the bitterness between these two teams has subsided, expect a hard fought, tough series, with Detroit ending up victorious.
Godbout – [Colorado in 7]: Detroit won the Presidents trophy and were never challenged through out the season, but that is about to change. Injuries and goaltending will be the downfall of the winged wheel in this series and you won’t hear that too often when refering to the Red Wings. Colorado on the other hand are finally healthy and are playing like it. Jose Theodore is back after a three year hiatus and Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Paul Stastny make up a top line comparable to any in the league. Colorado also has some gifted grinders that can change the momentum in one shift and they will be the key to the series. This will not be over quickly, but the Wings will go down again.
Rebelo – [Detroit in 6]: Another chapter in this awesome rivalry. Five times they have met since 1996, the Avalanche won 3 of the five series. This season the Wings won all four meetings with the Avalanche, shutting them out three times but that was a different Colorado team that did not have Peter Forsberg or Joe Sakic in the line up for even one game, while Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg combined for 4 goals and 5 assists in the season series. Jose Theodore will attempt to win in the second round for the first time in his career and 200 feet away the Wings will platoon Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek whom each won 2 games in the 1st round. Osgood will most likely start as he allowed just 1 goal in his 2 starts. Home ice will play a role in this series as Nicklas Lidstrom will play close to 30 minutes every night shutting down at least 1 of Colorado’s lines.
2. San Jose Sharks vs. 5. Dallas Stars
Jonathan Rebelo – DAL in 7
Norman Szcyrek -SJ in 5
Matt Godbout – DAL in 6
Concensus Pick: DAL in 6
Rebelo – [DAL in 7]: The season series was a split each team winning 4 games (3 on the road) The Sharks have to be more beaten up than the Stars which will hurt them after the first couple of games of the series. Special teams will be a major factor in the series as the Stars have the best power play of the 8 remaining teams and the Sharks had the worst penalty kill in the first round. Thankfully for the Sharks they averaged the least times short handed in the 1st round. Marty Turco won his first playoff round since 2002-2003 and has now only allowed 3 or more goals 3 times in his last 13 playoff games. Evgeni Nabokov on the other hand has allowed 3 or more in 9 of his last 18.
Godbout – [DAL in 6]: In the first installment of HW’s Playoff Predictions I said San Jose was ripe for the picking, just not by the Flames and thier lack of depth. This time however, they are ripe for Dallas to knock them out of the playoffs. San Jose has shown next to nothing of the team predicted by the pundits to win the Stanley Cup and although they do have the depth required, they just don’t have the talent to do it. The Sharks supporting staff of Michalek, Carle, Pavelski etc have been invisible thus far and that spells doom for the Sharks yet again. Let’s face it, if Jeremy Roenick has to score 4 points to win in game 7, there are alot of faces that should be tanning on the golf course shortly. Dallas has done everything no one expected (yours truly excluded) and they look poised to go through to the Conference finals. Marty Turco is a rock with the Dallas defence, while Mike Ribiero continues to be a factor in every game. What better recipe do you need?
Szcyrek – [San Jose in 5]: San Jose struggled mightily against Calgary in the first round, but should now have woken up enough to dispose of the upstart Stars. In the regular season, the teams each won 4 games out of 8 against each other. Dallas holds the edge in past playoff performances, defeating the Sharks in both 1998 and 2000.
The second round of the playoffs starts on Thursday, so don’t miss it.
See you for the Conference Finals with the next installment!