Sunday, May 02, 2010
Stanley Cup Playoff Round 2 Picks
This year's first round produced some of the most exciting series I have seen in a long time. Upsets galore dominated the storyline throughout the league, particularly in the Eastern Conference where the top 3 seeds were eliminated.
There were a number, the first team to advance was Philadelphia who took the Devils in 5 games. The Devils came into the series as the #2 seed in the East, while the Flyers qualified for the playoffs on the last day of the regular season. I predicted the upset, but didn't think it would be over so quickly.
In many ways the Boston win over Buffalo wasn't much of a surprise, but again the Bruins barely made the playoffs and seemed to get scoring from everyone. Also the Buffalo defence didn't play up to their expectations.
The biggest upset of the playoffs (maybe ever?) was 8th seeded Montreal taking down the heavily favoured (to win the cup!) Washington Capitals! The highest scoring team of the regular season only scored 1 power play goal in the whole series and 40+ goal scorer, Alexander Semin had 0. Montreal was down in the series 3-1, then Jaroslav Halak shut the door and put on one of the greatest displays of netminding ever, for games 6 and 7. Amazing!!
First round summary
Phoenix came within one game of winning their first ever playoff series. Not since 1987 has the franchise (Winnipeg Jets) advanced to round two. They came so close, but with captain Doan out with injury and the Wings improving as the series went on, Detroit's experience won out in the end.
Colorado also gave a valiant effort winning two games against the talented Sharks who appeared after game 3 shaken and unsure. The Sharks eventually wore out the Avs, avoiding the upset I predicted.
My theory for these upsets and closer than expected series was the "good teams having a bad season" syndrome. Philadelphia, Montreal, Boston and Detroit all were legitimate contenders for the Cup when the season began, but for whatever reason, mainly through injuries to key players, they had lousy regular seasons who struggled to make the playoffs. All these teams have all their top players back (Marc Savard) and now they are playing to their potential.
Round 2 predictions
Pittsburgh (4) vs Montreal (8)
Can Halak duplicate his performance against the Pens? He'll have to if the Canadians have a chance. Game 1 and 2 have happened already as I write this and Halak was up to his tricks again in game 2. The Pen will completely dominate and out-shoot the Canadians in every game, guaranteed, but remember the Washington series. It should be Pittsburgh, but I want another upset...please!
Montreal in 7
Boston (6) vs Philadelphia (7)
Hard to call, both teams are playing their best hockey of the year and this has potential for being the nastiest series. I'll go on a hunch.
Boston in 7
San Jose (1) vs Detroit (5)
I'm cheating on this one, it's two games in right now and the Sharks are up 2-0. The Red Wings will be better and will make a series out of it still, but I still don't think they'll win it.
San Jose in 6
Chicago (2) vs Vancouver (3)
It would be nice to see two Canadian teams advance, but my heart is with the Hawks. The Hawks better show more heart and intensity than they did in game 1 or else it could be short series. The Hawks have been kind of Jeckle and Hyde recently so I'm sticking with them! Sorry Vancouver!
Chicago in 7
So far I'm 5-3...