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The second round of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs is now underway with
the Phoenix-Nashville series starting on Friday night.  With the first game
of the Eastern Conference semis starting, our writers offer up their takes on
those two series.

Philadelphia vs New Jersey

Alexander Letourneau predicts PHI in 6
Brian La Rose predicts PHI in 6
Mitchell T predicts PHI in 6
Norm Szcyrek predicts NJ in 7

(Alexander) Didn’t give the Flyers the credit they deserved and they knocked out the team I thought would take it all. Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere were beyond excellent throughout the series. While Martin Brodeur will not be anywhere near as bad as Marc-Andre Fleury was, I don’t think he can keep that high-powered offence at bay for the entire series. Look for him to steal a few games but I don’t expect New Jersey to get out of this round. For Philadelphia, their major weakness is their goaltending. Bryzgalov needs to show up in this series. Flyers fans better hope he got all the duds out of his system in that first series. The season series was split three games apiece between the two with each team picking up two victories as the visiting team. Brodeur won one game out of the four he played while Bryzgalov won three, getting two shutouts and turning aside all shots he faced after relieving Sergei
Bobrovsky in a 6-4 loss midway through the season. If Bryzgalov can find that form again, count on Philadelphia advancing.

(Brian) For me, this series comes down to a question of whether or not Ilya
Bryzgalov will be as bad as he was in Round 1.  With a much weaker opponent
in terms of scoring in New Jersey, I can’t see him allowing as many as he did
against the Penguins which is a big boost for the Flyers right off the bat. 
What will hurt Philadelphia is that they are facing a team that actually plays a
system, something there was nothing of in the first round between them and the
Penguins.  I’d be shocked if the Devils allow as many glorious chances that
Pittsburgh did.  However, with the Devils having a weaker offence plus a
better performance from Bryzgalov (could he do much worse?) should give the
Flyers a trip to the conference finals.

(Mitchell) The Devils barely got past the Panthers. This is not meant as an insult to the Panthers, although it is in some ways. But the Devils really should have easily dispatched of a Florida team that is not near as talented as the Flyers. Look for Claude Giroux to continue his shocking run in these playoffs and prove to be far too much for a tired Devils team. Especially early on in the series. Ilya Bryzgalov has not good in the series against the Penguins but that means he is due for a solid series against the Devils. Not to mention the fact that the Devils are nowhere near the offensive talent of the Penguins. The only thing standing in the way of the Flyers is possibly the best goalie in the history of the NHL in Martin Brodeur. Brodeur should preform better then Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins in the first round.

(Norm) The Flyers offensive explosion against the Penguins in round one, was as impressive as their goaltending collapses. Was the Flyers scoring factored by their intense hatred for their state rivals from Pittsburgh? If not, do they have enough left to continue this level of tough play against the Devils? Despite a hard fought seven game series against the Panthers, an overtime winning series under their belts has to do a lot for New Jersey’s confidence against Philadelphia. I’ll give the edge to the Devils due to their key veterans such Martin Brodeur and Petr Sykora with their ample playoff experience.

New York vs Washington

Alexander Letourneau predicts NYR in 6
Brian La Rose predicts NYR in 5
Mitchell T predicts NYR in 6
Norm Szcyrek predicts WAS in 6

(Alexander) Certainly didn’t think third string goalie Braden Holtby would do what he has done so far in the playoffs and bring Washington into the second round. I’m still not sold on the Capitals as they beat a Bruins team that looked lethargic throughout the series. Alex Ovechkin needs to start producing if Washington is to have any hope of advancing. The Rangers just came out of a tough series with the surprising Ottawa Senators and can consider themselves lucky they did. The difference in this series will be goaltending and you have to tip your hat in Henrik Lundqvist’s direction. He is by far the Rangers’ best player and he gives that team a chance to win every night. Holtby will show some magic but ultimately I don’t see it being enough. The season series was split two games each and Holtby featured in the last game of the season at Madison Square Gardens, where he shut down the Rangers
offence. The games will be close but I can see Lundqvist locking it down when it comes to crunch time.

(Brian) I didn’t think Washington would do much of anything in the first round
and the way they got through it doesn’t give me any sort of confidence that
they’ll beat a better team this time around.  Can Holtby steal another
series?  I really can’t see it happening.  Yes, New York didn’t
exactly dispose of the Senators in any sort of convincing fashion but I think
they’re better in pretty much every area of the game which is why I think this
will be the shortest series of the second round.

(Mitchell)The Capitals pulled a huge upset when they defeated the Boston Bruins in seven games last round. They also have an excellent history against the Rangers and will carry that with them into this series. Goalie Braden Holtby turned out to became hero and possibly the best goaltender in the playoffs so far. But the Rangers are a different team from the Bruins. They have a better goaltender, however slightly, and the team plays aggressive as well as an excellent defensive game. They are also deeper than the Bruins with plenty of talent lining their ranks. You can’t question the heart of this team and Coach John Torterella has them firing on all cylinders.

(Norm) It took some time for the Capitals to adjust to head coach Dale Hunter’s defensive style, but it paid off in spades in the first round. A low scoring series that Boston should have won, the surprise Washington squad earned their overtime victory on the road, no simple feat. I expect more of the same from this squad, who will need Braden Holtby to continue his fine play and out duel Vezina candidate Henrik Lundqvist.

For fun, here is a score chart for our predictions from round one, 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:

Alexander 5 points (correctly predicted NSH,NYR,NJD,STL,PHO)
Norm 5 points (correctly predicted NSH,NJD in 7,STL,PHO)
Brian 4 points {correctly predicted PHI,NYR,NJD,STL)
Mitchell 4 points (correctly predicted NSH,NYR,WSH,NJD)