So who’s ready for round two? After one of the most thrilling, controversial, and unpredictable first rounds in recent memory, how can you not be excited for the second round? And the great news is, you don’t have to wait long at all. Game 1 between Phoenix and Nashville starts Friday, April 27, at 9pm.
With all of the craziness the first round had to offer, I don’t think I faired too badly with my first round predictions. I missed on Pittsburgh, and Chicago, and had Boston to win in 7 (who ended up losing by one goal in game 7). And other than that, I had Jersey right, New York right, St. Louis, Nashville and even called L.A. on a major upset. So with that in mind, here goes round two…
#1 New York Rangers vs. #7 Washington Capitals
Before the playoffs started I wouldn’t have hesitated to take the Rangers to win, but after the first round, I’m not so sure. New York had more trouble with the Sens than expected, and were forced to a 7th game. The Caps did just the opposite forcing the heavily favoured Bruins to a 7th. The wild card here is Holtby. He was amazing in round one, but can he out-play Lundqvist the way he did Thomas? He is a great kid, and he has shown tremendous poise so far, but my answer is “no”. As good as Holtby is, and can be, I still think Lundqvist is, and will be, better. The season series had them tied at 2’s, but a lot has happened since then.
New York wins in 7
#5 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #6 New Jersey Devils
The Devils have won two playoff series recently against the Flyers, and both times went on to win the Stanley Cup. This year however, after watching them barely squeak out a series win against the Florida Panther in double overtime of game 7, doesn’t make me believe that it will happen again. The Flyers also looked really good in the dismantling of the consensus favourite Pittsburgh Penguins in round one. And there’s no reason to believe that momentum won’t be carried over into round two. Not only that but Claude Giroux has really taken this team on his shoulders. He looks fierce, determined, and unstoppable right now. Don’t expect this to be a cakewalk though. The Flyers scored most of their goals on the power play with an almost 50% success rate in the first series. That isn’t going to fly against Hall-of-Famer Martin Brodeur, and the penalty conscience Devils. The season series was also a draw as these division rivals tied 3-3.
Philadelphia wins in 6
#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #8 Los Angeles Kings
Can the 8th seed L.A. Kings really take down the top two seeds back-to-back? Sure they can. They are one of those teams where there rank doesn’t do their roster justice. And to me, this series is even odds. Both of these teams matchup pretty evenly as they both have similar defensive styles with similar (stellar) goaltending. They also each have a good mix of offensive and defensive defensemen, with lots of scoring depth up front. Even their captains are similar. Dustin Brown and David Backes are both hard-hitting physical players that can score goals and help out in the defensive zone. The one big difference between these teams is their record against each other this season. L.A. won 3-1, and for me, that’s as good a tiebreaker as any…
Los Angeles wins in 7
#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs. #4 Nashville Predators
It looks like Phoenix will play the role of the underdog yet again despite their top seeding and home-ice advantage. If their fairly decisive win over the Chicago Blackhawks has taught us anything, maybe it’s not to underestimate this team. They are coached very well by Dave Tippett, and really work as a cohesive unit at both ends of the ice. They frustrate teams with their tight checking, trap style defense, and have just enough punch to score on the rush. The only problem is, it’s not going to work against Nashville. The Preds play a very similar style of game, and they are much more talented. They have the better goalie in Rinne (although Smith has been great), their D is better with Norris candidate Weber, and their offense is better, especially with the addition of Radulov. If Phoenix wants to sit back and counter, the Preds will have no problem doing the same thing, which could make this one of the most boring series to watch ever. I don’t think it will go down like that though, as I think a few goals one way or the other could break this series wide open.
Nashville wins in 6
… and thats the Last Word