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Predictions: Conference Semifinals
Predictions: Conference Semifinals(2011-04-29 14:50 posted by Louis Moustakas)

Although grief stricken by the elimination of our beloved Habs, our writers nonetheless summed up their strength and chimed in with their thoughts for the second round. Below are predictions and analysis for the four Conference Semifinals.

East: No. 1 Washington Capitals vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning

Louis Moustakas (First round: 5-3)

Louis’ Key: Cooler heads. As long as the Capitals continue to stick to their new, more responsible structure, their deeper, more talented squad should prevail. However, should they give in to the temptation to play run-and-gun against the Bolts high-powered attack, they could run into trouble. It’s not so much that they cannot keep up offensively, but if offense becomes the focus of this series, it can easily turn into a coin toss.

Prediction: In spite of my calls last season to ship Boudreau out of town, I must say I am impressed how he has kept his team on track throughout the year. As long as the Capitals stick to their game plan and Ovechkin, Semin and the others keep delivering key goals, they should have no trouble ousting their Southeast Division rivals. Washington in 5.

Brian La Rose (First round: 5-3)

Brian’s Analysis: It’s hard to look at a roster that boasts the likes of Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom and suggest that the opponent may have a better attack. In this case though, it appears to be true, especially with a resurgent Lecavalier and Gagne adding a second lethal line to Tampa’s attack. Both teams have some concerns in goal as well, with Neuvirth young and unproven (with a pair of good goalies behind him) and Roloson, the aging veteran who handled the puck like a live grenade in the 1st round.

Prediction: Capitals in 6 – This has the makings of a high scoring series which should work to Washington’s advantage. The Caps have the goalie depth while Tampa doesn’t. Washington could also see a boost to their defence with Dennis Wideman likely to return this series which will surely work in their favour.

Fred Doyon (First round: 6-2)

Prediction: Tampa Bay struggled to win against a seriously handicapped Pittsburgh team while the Caps didn't have too much trouble in their first round matchup. Washington is also definitely the most relaxed team and is, in my opinion, the favorite to win this round. Neuvirth will once again be a key player for the Caps as their offence has nothing to prove anymore. If he can stop the Bolts Big Three, Washington shouldn't have any problem reaching the Conference finals this season. Caps in 6 is my pick.

East: No. 2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 3 Boston Bruins

Louis Moustakas (First round: 5-3)

Louis’ Key: Emotions in check. Given the history between these two teams and their physical natures, it will be important for each side to keep their tempers in check. Any antics or useless penalties could prove costly, assuming Boston’s powerplay wakes up.

Prediction: Both teams barely squeaked by lower ranked opponents in seven hard fought games. Now, the two brutes of the East will face-off in a rematch of last year’s second round matchup that saw Philadelphia overcome a 0-3 series deficit. Frankly, I expect whoever advances to be seriously taxed by this series and have trouble advancing any further. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Philadelphia’s blueline will give the Flyers the edge. Philly in 7.

Brian La Rose (First round: 5-3)

Brian’s Analysis: For me, this series will come down to goaltending. Both teams saw some of their depth players step up in Round 1 which means their attacks will be well rounded. The Flyers certainly have a decided edge on defence though which should mitigate some of their frequent goalie concerns but will that be enough to overcome having to trot Brian Boucher out as a #1?

Prediction: Bruins in 7 – In a game 7 situation, goaltending is often the focus. Even though Tim Thomas isn’t technically sound and more than a little erratic at times, I simply can’t pick Boucher (or whoever’s in net by then) over him; Thomas will be the difference in this series..

Fred Doyon (First round: 6-2)

Prediction: As much as I hate these two teams, I think this series will be the most exciting by far. Toughness and grit combined are part of the game plans of both teams and scoring some goals will probably not be a problem as well. On the subject of goaltending, you have to give a huge advantage to the Booins. Their PP should also wake up as Boucher or whoever will replace him (haha) is not Carey Price. On the other hand, I like the way Briere, Giroux and even JVR contribute offensively in pretty much every game. One thing that will perhaps determine the result of this matchup is what kind of performance Chris Pronger will be able to come up with. I go with Philly in 6.

West: No. 1 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 5 Nashville Predators

Louis Moustakas (First round: 5-3)

Louis’ Key: Mental fortitude. The two franchises overcame major obstacles in the previous round, with Vancouver beating arch-nemesis Chicago and Nashville obtaining their first ever series win. As much as many feel the Canucks have gained in mental strength in their last series, let’s not forget how close they came to staging arguably the greatest choke job in the history of major league sports. It will be interesting to see how they react to any potential adversity moving forward.

Prediction: My heart bleeds for the underdog and there are fewer bigger underdogs then Nashville. But, assuming Luongo remains relatively solid and that the Canucks get some production from their top players, I fail to see how the Predators can defeat Canada’s last remaining team. They will put up a heck of a fight though. Vancouver in 6.

Brian La Rose (First round: 5-3)

Brian’s Analysis: Yes, Vancouver exorcised their demons from Chicago in the first round but it wasn’t exactly in convincing fashion. For the Preds, this is uncharted territory for them as they venture into the 2nd round for the first time in franchise history. Vancouver’s offensive scorers were held in check against Chicago, it’s hard to imagine it happening again, despite Nashville’s very impressive defence corps.

Prediction: Canucks in 5 – The wakeup call in Vancouver has been received. They have the better attack, at least a comparable defence to Nashville and there isn’t really a goaltending edge either way. The Canucks will get in front early and unlike last round, they won’t lift their foot off the pedal.

Fred Doyon (First round: 6-2)

Prediction: If you want to go in 4 games with a series, it's this one. Vancouver broke the Chicago curse and are now ready to be the contender they're supposed to be. In my mind, nothing but a strong Detroit team can stop them from taking part in the SC final and Nashville are not a strong Detroit. We've seen that the Preds can definitely surprise and steal some games thanks to Rinne, but Luongo will rebound, he has to rebound. Also, we have not seen much from Samuelsson and Kesler yet. I expect Vancouver depth players to be more of a factor against the Preds. On the other side, will Mike Fisher, Nick Spaling, Jordin Tootoo and Joel Ward be able to continue putting up points? Count me in the "I don't think so" team. Rinne is hell of a goalkeeper, Barry Trotz can really lead this team, but sorry, Vancouver in 5.

West: No. 2 San Jose Sharks vs. No. 3 Detroit Red Wings

Louis Moustakas (First round: 5-3)

Louis’ Key: Big guns. Featuring the likes of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Dany Heatley, Ryan Clowe and Logan Couture, the Shark possess easily one of the most intimidating offensive groups in recent memory. If they produce. And, given the history of many of the aforementioned players, that is a big if. However, should most of them rise to the occasion, even the mighty Red Wings will struggle to contain their Californian rivals.

Prediction: History has taught me two things. Betting against the Red Wings is usually a mistake (Phoenix anyone?) and that wagering on the Sharks is equally foolish. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Detroit in six.

Brian La Rose (First round: 5-3)

Brian’s Analysis: The Sharks should have the early edge this round considering Detroit has been sitting for what seems like an eternity (over a week in actuality). The Red Wings will get a huge boost this round though as Henrik Zetterberg returns to a lineup that disposed of Phoenix a lot easier than I thought they would. After seeing Antti Niemi get pulled twice in the 1st round, there are giant question marks between the pipes for the Sharks.

Prediction: Red Wings in 6 – If there was any team that could benefit from an extended rest, it’s Detroit, a veteran laden team. They have the better depth and the better goaltending which will carry them through to the Conference Finals.

Fred Doyon (First round: 6-2)

Prediction: Two teams stacked with players that are favorites of mine. Datsuyk, Lidstrom, Holmstrom, Clowe, Marleau, Heatley and I could keep going. But I have to choose and I pick Detroit. If Howard can bring his best, they have everything to go deep in the playoffs. The leadership on this team is A1, their defensive play is A1 and the firepower is amongst the best, especially if Zetterberg can play. For the Sharks, Ryan Clowe seems to be on a mission and if Dany Heatley and Dan Boyle can start their engines, we could easily see this going to 7. I think it will. Detroit in 7.



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