Thursday, April 28, 2011
I’m not sure how the NHL will follow-up their amazing first round of action. We experienced four game 7s – two that went to overtime, and one of which was one of the most exciting hockey games of the past decade. We saw crazy comebacks, penalty shots, goalies stealing games, a wardrobe malfunction, and a few head shots for good measure. The first round only missed a few upsets.
What does the second round have in store? Hell if I know.
Washington (1) vs. Tampa Bay (5)
Washington Wins If… Mike Green doesn’t block any more shots with his face… If Washington’s new defensive style works against a team that can actually score goals… If there is an answer to Martin St. Louis… If Bruce Boudreau lets the boys play DJ Pauly D in the dressing room… If the Capitals come from behind game 4 victory says more about them than it does the Rangers.
Tampa Bay Wins If… They didn’t just look good against an injury depleted team… If Dwayne Roloson goes all 2005 on the Caps… If Eric Brewer has actually rejuvenated his career… If Steven Stamkos can out-Ovechkin Alexander Ovechkin.
Prediction: Washington in 7
Philadelphia (2) vs. Boston (3)
Philadelphia Wins If… The slump is over… If Danny Briere doesn’t forget he’s a playoff scoring machine… If Chris Pronger’s play doesn’t convince Zdeno Chara to play like an animal as well… If the Flyers clean up their goaltending mess.
Boston Wins If… Milan Lucic does something other than smash people into the boards from behind… If the Bruins tell Tomas Kaberle that the playoffs started two weeks ago… If the Bruins are ultra-motivated to avenge last season’s disastrous defeat… If Patrice Bergeron can find a way to neutralize Danny Briere… If the Bruins’ power-play shows up.
Prediction: Boston in 7
Vancouver (1) vs. Nashville (5)
Vancouver Wins If… They didn’t expend all their energy holding off the surging Hawks… If they don’t consider beating the Hawks their Stanley Cup… If Roberto Luongo’s psychological trauma is primarily Chicago driven… If the Sedins are still effective against anyone not named Dave Bolland… If beating the Hawks turned the Canucks back into the dominant team they were during the regular season.
Nashville Wins If… They aren’t just happy to finally be past the first round… If Mike Fisher continues to play like he still needs to win over Carrie Underwood… If Jordin Tootoo torpedoes his way through the Vancouver line-up… If they receive scoring behind whatever line Ryan Kesler shuts down… If they can score on a real goalie.
Prediction: Vancouver in 6
San Jose (2) vs. Detroit (3)
San Jose Wins If… Antti Niemi stops pretending he’s a horrible goaltender… If the Sharks continue to receive balanced scoring throughout the line-up… If Ian White grows back his moustache… If Joe Thornton’s new nickname is Big Game Joe.
Detroit Wins If… The time off between series was enough for their infirmary to shrink… If they didn’t develop any rust after their first round sweep… If Pavel Datsyuk doesn’t have to carry the team… If Jimmy Howard is better than average.
Prediction: San Jose in 7