Round 1 of the NHL playoffs has come and gone,
and left 8 casualties out of the chase for the Stanley Cup. There were some
surprises and upsets, and round 2 should allow more of the same excitement for
all of us hockey fans. HabsWorld contributors Matt Godbout, Tristan Tapscott and
myself (Norm Szcyrek) have shared the following prognostications.
Pittsburgh vs. Washington Predictions: Matt (Penguins in 6); Tristan
(Penguins in 5); Norm (Capitals in 7)
Pittsburgh/Washington Series Analysis: Matt–Crosby vs Ovechkin is very
important in this series and even though Crosby always outshines Ovechkin it
isn’t that matchup that is the most important. The determining factor here is
can Semin outshine or even equal Malkin? The short answer is no and therefore
this is the end of the road for the Caps.
Tristan–I think every hockey fan everywhere got a little aroused when they
heard about this matchup. Crosby vs Ovechkin, Malkin vs Semin, Gonchar vs Green,
Guerin vs Fedorov; the list just doesn’t end in the series! But the main focus
as far as individual contests go should be on Fleury vs Varlamov. The young
Washington rookie didn’t see anywhere near the level of offense against NYR that
he’ll see against Pittsburgh, and I reckon that will be the difference.
Norm–The Capitals rebounded nicely in the first round, to come from behind 3
games to 1, to defeat Washington. Look for Ovechkin and company to continue
their winning ways against the mighty Penguins. It will be no cakewalk, as both
teams stars will shine to make for what should be the best match up of round
Boston vs. Carolina Predictions: Matt
(Carolina in 6); Tristan (Boston in 6); Norm (Boston in 5)
Boston/Carolina Series Analysis: Matt–Carolina has had a very tough
series in NJ and Boston… well, they didn’t. The Canes are ready to play and
the Bruins likely won’t be. Will it be one or two losses before Boston comes
around and gets back into it? If it’s two games, it’s too much and the canes
will come out on top. My bet is in 6 games.
Tristan–Carolina is riding a buzz from a last-second and highly improbable Game
7 comeback win over NJ. Boston, on the other hand, hasn’t played a meaningful
game since sweeping Montreal in the first round (though some may argue they
haven’t played a meaningful game since the end of the regular season!) I expect
Carolina to come out blazing and catch Boston sleeping in Game 1, but the mighty
talented Bruins team will prevail in 6 games.
Norm–The Bruins made short work of the Habs, and are relatively healthy.
Carolina surprised the heavily favoured Devils in round 1, but the Bruins depth
and their regular season record (4-0, outscoring Carolina 18-6) against the
Hurricanes provides the edge in this series.
Vancouver vs. Chicago Predictions: Matt
(Vancouver in 6); Tristan (Chicago in 7); Norm (Chicago in 7)
Vancouver/Chicago Series Analysis: Matt–One and only one
important factor for this series; goaltending. Luongo gets the nod in my books
after being dominant in the first round. However, if he doesn’t have a good
start and Khabibulin does all bets are off.
Tristan–Or Luongo vs Chicago. The man is carrying that team, but carrying it
well. It may not help against a well balanced and more talented Chicago lineup
though. If Vancouver can get consistent scoring from a line that doesn’t have
the Sedins on it, the Canucks can win. Ultimately, I see the Blackhawks
advancing in 7.
Detroit vs. Anaheim Predictions: Matt (Anaheim in 7); Tristan (Detroit in
6); Norm (Detroit in 7)
Detroit/Anaheim Series Analysis: Matt–Detroit vs Anaheim …
Anaheim in 7 – I was one of the brave few that predicted Anaheim to win in the
opening round and it was for only one reason … this Ducks team is built for
the playoffs. During the season they had a few lows but teams built to grind it
out are usually only mildly successful … in the playoffs it is a different
story. If Detroit thinks they can win this series by outscoring their opponents
6-5 like they did vs CBS, this will be over much faster then the 7 games I
predict. Anaheim doesn’t give up easy goals.
Tristan–Anaheim is a true playoff team; physical, gritty, never-say-die and
devil-may-care attitudes, and should be a true test for the highly skilled Red
Wings. This sounds familiar… I think something like that is said almost every
season. And almost every season, Detroit wins the series against whichever "true
playoff team." Well Anaheim beat San Jose mainly because of an inept Sharks
power-play, and I don’t think the Red Wings will have the same problem. Detroit
takes it in 6.
Norm–In the playoffs, most of the time, when skilled teams face grittier teams,
the skilled teams usually win. This time around, Detroit will prevail. The Wings
held a 3-0-1 regular season record against the Ducks, but the scoring
differential was close at 15-11. Close is how this series will run.