The second night of the Round Two series begins Wednesday with the second of
two Western Conference matchups. The HabsWorld writers share their
predictions on who will win that series, plus the Boston-New York matchup.
Unlike part one of our predictions this round, there is some dissenting opinion
from our writers.
Boston vs New York
Brian La Rose predicts: New York in 7
Jason Brisebois predicts: New York in 7
Alex Létourneau predicts: New York in 6
Norm Szcyrek predicts: Boston in 6
(Brian) For whatever reason, the Bruins have been lacking in the killer instinct category for the past several weeks and needed an historic comeback just to get out of the first round. New York, meanwhile, is getting hot at the right time and as we saw last year, teams like that can really be dangerous. On paper, I give Boston the edge but it’s really hard to be confident in them right now. Secondary scoring helped the Rangers get through Washington, I have to think the top guns will pick it up this round which should only help them. It’s also hard to bet against Henrik Lundqvist who came up huge when facing elimination. This should be a very close series but I think New York pulls it out.
(Jason) Admittedly this is the series I am finding the hardest to predict a winner for. Both teams, in my opinion, underperformed throughout the regular season. While the Rangers seemed to somewhat elevate their game in their first-round matchup against Washington, the Bruins looked fairly disappointing throughout their series with the Leafs (so much so that I had already begun writing a Leafs-Rangers preview). That being said, when comparing the two teams it’s hard to find an area where one team holds a decisive advantage over the other. Both teams bolster an elite level goaltender (though Rask’s track record is fairly short), a sturdy blueline and an
offence propelled by numerous quality players.
Yet I have my concerns about the Bruins. The status of numerous Bruins’ defencemen seems to be in question, as Dennis Seidenberg appears to have sustained an undisclosed injury while Chara must surely be winded after a game seven performance which saw him log over 30:00 minutes of ice time. Between concerns of exhaustion and limited depth on the backend, and the expectation that Chara will be continuously called upon to log excessive minutes, Bruins fans should wonder if the defence can go another three rounds, let alone the second round should it go seven games.
Based on my concerns for the Bruins’ backend, and the slumps that some of its high-powered forwards like Seguin find themselves in, I have to pick the Rangers to score another upset of a higher seed.
(Alex) The lesser of two evils in my eyes won the Toronto – Boston series, albeit by the skin of their teeth. It was an emotional victory but I expect New York to snuff that out. Boston was a complacent team in their first round series. They turned it up when they had their backs against the wall and that’s the type of thing that gets you knocked out of the playoffs. Had Toronto been a tad more experienced in playoff hockey, they would be playing New York at the ACC. New York surprised me. They did shut down Alex Ovechkin, which I didn’t think they could do, and Henrik Lundqvist looks dazzling at the moment. A hot goalie is all you need sometimes and he’s on fire. A bunch of misfiring talent in this one. Brad Richards has not turned back time to his Conn Smythe campaign, Rick Nash has been disappointing and Tyler Seguin has been invisible. Henrik will win the battle of the goaltenders -and don’t get me wrong, Tuukka Rask has been exemplary – and the Rangers will move on to the Conference Finals.
(Norm) The surprising Toronto Maple Leafs pressed the Boston Bruins all the way to overtime in game 7 before falling in round one. In a similar theme, the Rangers were able to surprise the 3rd rated Washington Capitals in 7 games.
New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist brought his play to a new level to help his team to advance. The Bruins advanced due to a miraculous
come from behind game 7 win, thanks in part to the heroics of Patrice Bergeron, who scored the game tying goal and the series winning overtime
goal. I believe this momentum shift is a predictor that the Bruins will continue their fine play against the Rangers and win this series.
Chicago vs Detroit
Brian La Rose predicts: Chicago in 6
Jason Brisebois predicts: Chicago in 7
Alex Létourneau predicts: Chicago in 6
Norm Szcyrek predicts: Chicago in 7
(Brian) It’s hard to get a read on the Blackhawks’ first round performance. On the one hand, they disposed of Minnesota somewhat easily but on the other, they faced a backup and/or minor league goalie in each game. Jimmy Howard is far from that. Detroit’s core is playoff tested and that came in handy in their first round victory. I like the Red Wings’ top guys up front but their secondary scoring has some question marks as does their defence. The only real question mark that Chicago has is goaltending and Corey Crawford has been sharp; there’s little reason to assume he won’t continue to be. One of these days, I’m going to predict Detroit loses and actually be right. I believe this will be that time.
(Jason) I honestly believe this will be the best series of the second round, and a lot closer than the seeds suggest. Despite finishing 7th in the West, Detroit will not be defeated nearly as easily as Minnesota was. Unlike a fairly green Wild team, the Red Wings are among the most experienced teams in the league. The core may be aging, but we’ve seen Zetterberg, Datsyuk and crew go the distance before. Detroit’s resiliency come to the fore against the Ducks – the Wings continually battling their way back into the series before ultimately winning it – and we will likely see it again against a high-powered Blackhawks team.
That being said, Detroit isn’t the team it used to be. The hole left on the blueline by Nicklas Lidstrom was extremely noticeable throughout the regular season and the first round. Likewise, its stars are aging and its depth has slowly eroded over the past few years. Expect a close series, but for the Blackhawks’ wealth of talent and depth will prevail in the end.
(Alex) Another original six matchup and this one should be a dandy. Chicago dispatched a roughed up Minnesota team, that, despite the 4-1 series loss, was never really that far off from stealing another game or two. Nonetheless, Chicago came out of the series unscathed, Corey Crawford looks to be comfortable in goal and Chicago boasts a balanced scoring attack, minus Jonathan Toews who’s been uncharacteristically quiet so far. Detroit squeezed it out against Anaheim but will be in much tougher against the Blackhawks. They’re still hurting from their defensive exodus in the off season and I don’t think Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk can continue to carry this team. Jimmy Howard is a capable goaltender but outside of the Penguins, Chicago has the most balanced and lethal
offence in the playoffs. Don’t expect it to be easy but Chicago will power through this series.
(Norm) The West’s original 6 series in the second round, the Chicago Blackhawks appear to be the favourite
in this series. They have a good mix of young players, depth, veterans, solid defence, and playoff experience. Their only relative weakness is in goal,
but that area was good enough in the first round to get by in their 5 games. To get past this round however, they need some scoring from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, as neither had a goal in the first series.
As for Detroit, they outperformed the Ducks in a roller coaster of a 7 game series, coming from a 3-2 series deficit to
defeat the Ducks who had the 2nd best regular season record. Veteran playoff warriors like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg
rose to the occasion in the first round, and had some help from their 4th liners with some surprise scoring. Thed edge goes to
Detroit in goal, as Jimmy Howard was stellar in the first round. This will be a very close series.
Playoff Prediction Points – Round 1
Here are the tallies from the first round. The point system awards one point for predicting a winner of a series and one extra point for picking the correct number of games.
Matt Gauthier [6 of 16]
Brian La Rose [6 of 16]
Norm Szcyrek [6 of 16]
Jonathan Rebelo [4 of 16]
Alex Létourneau [4 of 16]