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HW Predicts: Round 3
HW Predicts: Round 3(2012-05-13 22:12 posted by Norman Szcyrek)

The third round of the 2012 playoffs is underway this evening. The HabsWorld writers have looked into their crystal balls to predict the next round of the hockey playoff's future.

Western Conference

PHO vs. LAK

Brian La Rose predicts LAK in 7
Justin Wright predicts LAK in 6
Mitchell T predicts LAK in 5
Norm Szcyrek predicts LAK in 6

(Mitchell) The Los Angeles Kings could take a page out of Michael Jackson's book and make it as easy as 1,2,3. After already dispatching the Presidents Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks and second place St. Louis Blues they have a chance to take down the third place Phoenix Coyotes and advance to the Stanley Cup finals. During the regular season the Kings had all kinds of problems scoring goals and it was the main reason why they came into the playoffs as an eight seed. Those goal scoring problems seem to have disappeared and the team is playing better hockey than it has this entire season. Unless Mike Smith can pull off some kind of miracle as he already has at least once the Kings will make quick work of this series.

(Brian) The common thought is to peg this series on the goaltenders as both have had simply stellar postseasons thus far. However, I think the key will be from the offence; in particular, can Phoenix match the surprising firepower that the big guns of the Kings are finally putting up? If Kopitar, Carter, and Richards continue to live up to expectations, Los Angeles will be in good shape regardless of how Quick plays. The Coyotes though have done well to shut down the top scorers of their opponents so far which makes this series far from a given. I still think the Kings prevail in the end but this one will be a very tight series.

(Norm) The two western conference underdogs managed to meet in the conference final. There is no way the oddsmakers would have ever predicted these exact two teams would both make it this far. The league owned Phoenix Coyotes have been riding unflappable goalie Mike Smith, and combining timely scoring with solid defence to make it this far. Antoine Vermette has lead the team in scoring so far, with 9 points in 11 games. Forward Mikkel Boedker is tied for second with 7 points, along with defencemen Rostislav Klesla and Keith Yandle. King to the Los Angeles good fortune has been goaltender Jonathan Quick, living up to his name. The rest of the team has been playing a tough style of play, and have knocked out the top two teams in the west. Forward and team captain Dustin Brown has literally lead his team with 11 points in 6 games to date. Anze Kopitar is next with 10 points. I'm predicting a close scoring but exciting series, and am giving an edge to Los Angeles, due to a slight advantage in playoff experience among their veterans.

NYR vs. NJD

Brian La Rose predicts NJD in 6
Justin Wright predicts NYR in 7
Norm Szcyrek predicts NJD in 6
Mitchell T predicts NYR in 6

(Mitchell) It has not been a great playoffs for the New York Rangers thus far. They were forced to play 7 games against the eight seed Ottawa Senators before their series with the seventh seed Capitals went the distance. However, the recurring theme in these series is that the Rangers have come out on top. They have been a fighting team from the very start and this series will really demonstrate their depth. A whole lot of this series will be down to the goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist and he has not disappointed yet. Fatigue for the Rangers will play a huge part in this series as the Rangers have played the maximum number of games they can in these playoffs. However, the Rangers have not shown any signs of letting up winning some huge emotional games to keep their playoff hopes alive. A big key in this series is the fact that Ilya Kovalchuk, a player who has been huge for the Devils, will finally face some solid defence. Also, the Devils will have to score against a MVP nominated goaltender, something they didn't get in Jose Theodore (not the current Theodore anyway) and Ilya Bryzgalov.

(Brian) It's hard to fathom that a #1 seed could be the underdog against a #6 seed but it almost appears that way. New Jersey has a surprisingly potent offence in these playoffs, much better than the likes of Ottawa and Washington who the Rangers barely beat. Granted, New York's defence is much better than what the Devils have gone up against, as is their goaltending. What sours me a bit about that defence though is the amount of blocked shots they've faced and the ice time their top guys have logged. With very little turnaround time, that plays right into New Jersey's hands. Although it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see New York take this series (Henrik Lundqvist is always capable of stealing some games), I think the Devils' surprising run will carry through into the Finals.

(Norm) The New York & New Jersey area fans have themselves a new subway series! The media and fans will enjoy the experience, since the two teams are long time, bitter rivals. The teams owners will enjoy the lack of travel expenses, since no jets or hotels will be needed. The players & staff will all get to enjoy home cooking for the next 7-13 days. The most infamous time the two teams faced each other was in 1994, when the Rangers were down 3 games to 2, and then captain Mark Messier guaranteed a victory in game 6. He scored a hat trick to help his cause, then the Ranger rose the momentum to a Stanley Cup win. In this playoff, the team's best players have been their best scorers too. Brad Richards has scored 11 points in 14 games for the Rangers, while Ilya Kovalchuk has managed 12 points in 11 games for the Devils, while missing one game for a minor injury. Both teams have excellent, top flight goalies with Martin Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist. Although the Rangers had the better regular season record, I'm predicting the Devils will make it through this round, due in part to better overall depth on defence, and a little less fatigue, having played 2 fewer games in the post season.

Here is an update to the score chart for our predictions from round two, where a correct prediction of the winning team earns one point, and an exact prediction of the series winner earns two points. Here are the results:

Norm 8 points (3 points for correctly predicting NJD,PHO,LAK)
Alexander 6 points (1 point for correctly predicting NYR)
Brian 5 points {1 point for correctly predicting NYR)
Mitchell 5 points (1 point for correctly predicting NYR)



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