Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 2

I was hoping I was wrong with some of my first round predictions, but it turns out that I know my hockey a little too well. I chose 6 winners out of the eventual 8. Why can't I do that when it's for "bracket pools?" It looks like the teams that most know how to grind it out (as well as stay healthy) by utilizing their grit can survive the post-season. We were treated by many more OT games, so the question for this round is will there be more nail-biting finishes?

The defending Stanley Cup champions have been knocked out in the first round. Chicago gave Vancouver a lot to think about when the season finally ends.

Western Conference

Vancouver v. Nashville
The Canucks now have that seed of doubt planted in their minds about the possibility of coming up short again in the playoffs. The pressure is mounting. Nashville has never advanced to this second round in the playoffs. Look for Luongo and company to pull away in this one again. The Sedins should play like Hart Trophy candidates.
Prediction: Vancouver in 6

San Jose vs Detroit
The Sharks have beaten the Red Wings before in the playoffs, but this is a whole new group of players. Detroit is resilient and can still get the job done, despite the advantage of dispirited Phoenix and their fans. San Jose needs to shake the doubt from the national media about their past playoff outcomes. Is this the year? It's hard to predict.

Prediction: San Jose in 6

Eastern Conference

Washington v. Tampa Bay
Washington can't rest easy knowing they have a Southeastern rival in the next round. If Crosby and company won't be playing, then this won't get the marquee attention that the NHL has rested their aspirations on. Again, the difference maker here is the experience in goal. Look for Roloson vs. the rotating staff of the Capitals.
Prediction: Washington in 6

Philadelphia v. Boston
Both teams really beat players up to win hockey games. This is going to be a coin flip to see who comes out. Last year, it was a grueling finish that sent a collapsing Bruins team home and the Flyers in the Finals. Look for the Flyer forwards to be faster than the Bruins defense can withstand.
Prediction: Philadelphia in 5
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