Saturday, May 14, 2011

2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 3

The playoffs have gotten really interesting. The "sexy pick", the underdog, the usual suspects, the front runners, and the rest of the remaining ex-champions are all eliminated. This leaves 2 teams with a history of choking (or under achieving, if you so feel inclined to call it that instead) with another team from the south and Boston.

I went 50% correct on my predictions because I completely botched the Eastern Conference. I thought for sure Washington and Philadelphia would figure something out. But it only leaves more questions for struggling franchises that have premier teams. What happened to the Capitals? They didn't even put up a fight.

It's not what might make a Conference finals match-up get media traction in the States, but it's still worth examining.

Western Conference

Vancouver v. San Jose
The worst scenario for both teams came to pass and presented the result as 2 teams enter the conference finals and 1 team must leave. Both teams have been burdened with the underachieving stigma, now one of them is guaranteed to miss the Stanley Cup finals once again. Ryan Kesler is one of the top reasons why the Canucks have made it this far. I've heard critics ponder why the Canucks stopped scoring. San Jose has never had that problem. Look for Antti Niemi, who beat the Canucks last year, to figure into some success for San Jose.
Prediction: Vancouver in 5

Eastern Conference

Boston v. Tampa Bay
Boston, I believe, is the strongest team that got out of the trading deadline. They found some improvements to the Center depth vulnerability. The other key ingredient was the resurgent play of goalie Tim Thomas. The big scoring forwards of St. Louis, Lecavalier, and Stamkos are really clicking on all cylinders. The Bruins defence can catch Lightning in a bottle.
Prediction: Boston in 7
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