Alright, back again for our first annual 2nd round predictions of the 2009 Stanley Cup Conference semi finals. Round 1 was a little weird – I mean, other than NHLdigest.com, who else foresaw the Anaheim Ducks taking out the San Jose Sharks? I vow to never pick Joe Thornton in a playoff hockey pool again.
Everyone is and will continue talking about the Sharks being perrenial playoff chokers. As a long time Ottawa Senators fan, I know what Sharks fans are going through. But you can’t even call the Senators chokers this year – you have to make the playoffs first! Seriously, where’s Calgary in all this choker talk? Did you know the Calgary Flames have gotten to the Stanley Cup finals three times? You probably did, my wicked readers. What you may not know is that it’s the only three times Calgary have advanced beyond the first round.
Now who’s the chokers? And Joe Thornton has never worn a Flames jersey.
And speaking of chokers; let’s quickly look at the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. Who had the biggest choke: Is it the Rangers who had the 3-1 series lead, losing three straight games? Or is it the New Jersey Devils who had a 3-2 lead in game 7 with 80 seconds remaining in the game losing in regulation time? Two equally embarrassing collapses, this is tough. Your thoughts are required…
Anyways, onto our 2nd round playoff picks… let’s hope they go better than last round.
Detroit Red Wings vs Anaheim Ducks
Burgundy: Detroit in 7 games; “Ducks fly together”… unless there are Red Wings around. Is it me, or does Ryan Getzlaf remind you of Charlie Conway from the Mighty Ducks? You know you agree. The Sharks never had anyone infront of Hiller and this series will feature 70% more screened shots from Johan Franzen, Thomas Holstrom and other Wings.
Fantana: Detroit in 6 games; Anaheim surprised us all in the first round against San Jose but I’m positive Detroit will crush the Ducks this round. Even though Giguere didn’t play against San Jose, he has been Jonas Hiller’s mentor for the past few seasons. And anyone who’s been mentored by a goalie who plays goal with a jazz flute is in trouble.
Mantooth: Detroit in 5 games; One team in this series is going to get their feathers clipped and I don’t see it being Detroit. The Red Wings walked all over the Blue Jackets, with the only close game being the last. With a nice long break they will come out guns a-blazin’. Franzen and crew are going to make this one look effortless.
Tambland: Anaheim in 6 games; Not really sure what to say anymore. My logic last round seems to have failed. I’m gonna have to flip a coin on this one. If it’s heads, the Ducks (because Ducks have heads). If it’s tails, the Ducks (because Ducks have tails). Oh. Well there you go.
Baxter: Anaheim in 6 games; Since I totally blew my San-Jose-Will-Smoke-The-Ducks prediction from the first round, I’m going have to humbly eat crow, er, duck…um, never mind. Who knew that Anaheim would outscore SJ 9-2 in third periods? Specialty teams? Forget it. Ducks outscored SJ 12-5 at even strength. Listen, this is all about defence. I’m scared. Another Duck championship is starting to look like a real possibility if they get past the Wings. Do you think I’m drinking too much purple Kool-Aid? Think way back… Anaheim beat Detroit in six games two years ago in the West finals on its way to the franchise’s lone Stanley Cup title. Against Ottawa (ahem).
Vancouver Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks
Burgundy: Vancouver in 7 games; Although I hate the thought of betting against Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook (the list goes on), I hate the idea of betting against Luongo even more. The difference will be the extra week worth of rest the Canucks got while the Hawks were battling the Flames. So yes, I’m voting for Vancouver, despite the fact Chicago has more Canadian-born players on their team (the Hawks have 15 and the Canucks have 14).
Fantana: Vancouver in 6 games; Luongo is like a machine in a constant cat-like readiness and he will stonewall the young Hawks all series long. Chicago’s only hope is to set Marty Havlat’s kicking legs into motion in Vancouver’s crease. Failing that, they could try to clone Dustin Byfuglien and put two Byfuglien’s in front of Luongo. That might work.
Mantooth: Chicago in 6 games; If I were to pit a Killer Whale against a Hawk in a fight, I would put my money on the Whale hands down! The only problem is, this is one awesome Hawk. This series will be all about offense, I think that Toews, Havlet and Versteeg have the edge over the Sundin and Sedin’s.
Tambland: Vancouver in 5 games; Well well well. So Chicago thinks they can ruin Canada’s Cup dream twice in one playoff. I don’t think so. Here’s the way I see it. Vancouver is probably the next Canadian team due to make the Finals, seeing as Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa have all done it recently.
Baxter: Vancouver in 6 games; Shut down the speed. Slow down the breakout. Make Luongo drink water. Canucks are well rested. Then again, did Chicago ever break a sweat? Khabibulin gave up a combined 9 goals in Games 3 and 4 (both losses to Calgary). And then for some bizarre reason, he stood on his head in Game 6. Poor Iggy is still licking his wounds. If the Canucks keep rolling, they will have to come up with new product lines at IKEA. The Sundin doorMat. The Sedin twin bunk bed. The Matias Ohlund. Whatever that means.
Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes
Burgundy: Boston in 6 games; I don’t think Carolina has the same forward depth Boston has. As a Sens fan, I’m looking forward to seeing Zdeno Chara put Joe Corvo through the boards. And Erik Cole too. I just kinda don’t like him. It’s an irrational hate thing because of his terrible stint in Edmonton.
Fantana: Boston in 6 games; It’s the year of the Bruin and Bruins are so tough, they can stand through Hurricanes. Carolina will throw everything they’ve got at Boston but it won’t be enough. The Hurricanes playoff drive is going to Staal in the second round. See what I did there… pretty impressive, I know.
Mantooth: Boston in 6 games; The Canes finally get 2 straight wins when they needed it the most and Eric Staal is the man of the hour. Now the Bruins on the other hand, were pretty much given their series on a golden platter and are all fresh going into this series. This will be a straight up battle. and a tough one to call, but I have to side with my gut feeling.
Tambland: Boston in 6 games; Again, this one goes to the B’s. Only because it is a good opportunity to ‘bruin’ Paul Maurice’s comeback in coaching. Sorry. I really am quite happy that I discovered “bruin” could replace “ruin” in most instances.
Baxter: Boston in 6 games; Tim Thomas (6 goals against MTL, with an uncomprehensible .946 save percentage) will be well rested after sitting since April 23rd when the B’s embarassed les Habs in four straight. While Cam Ward kept his team in it long enough to beat NJ in game 7 (in probably one of the most bizarre final one minute 30 seconds I have ever seen in a playoff game), his record versus the B’s this season has been humbling (0-4-0, with a 3.90 GAA). Chara only needs to flash one stat: his dimensions at 6’9″, 255 pounds. His dad was a Greco-Roman wrestler for Czechoslovakia at the 1976 Olympics. ’Nuff said. And what does a tailgate party look like in the Carolinas? Take a look.
Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Burgundy: Pittsburgh in 6 games; Nothing witty here. Marc-Andre Fleury might be the hottest goalie in the Eastern Conference and doesn’t have a weak glove side (see Henrik Lundqvist). Pittsburgh’s forwards will score on those odd-man rushes the New York Rangers screwed up. I’m not convinced Washington can play as team for a whole game; whereas Pittsburgh can.
Fantana: Washington in 7 games; While most fans are expecting a Malkin versus Ovechkin showdown, or even a Crosby versus Ovechkin showdown, I think this will be Alexander Semin’s emergence as a playoff star. Semin scored 5 goals against the Rangers and he didn’t even have to drop his gloves. Marc Staal got lucky he didn’t get beaten like a drum again, but Crosby & co. should watch their backs.
Mantooth: Washington in 7 games; Alright let’s get this out of the way, we all know that Gary B has a raging hard-on about this series. Do you blame him? This is going to be the series of the entire playoffs. Ovechkin & Semin vs. Crosby & Malkin. Now I have 3 of those 4 in my pool, and all I want to see is high scoring by those individuals. And I need this series to drag out to 7 games to make it worth while. I see the Caps on a high making the comeback from being down 3-1 being the deciding factor.
Tambland: ** Editors note: this pick was made at 4pm on Tuesday April 28th** Pittsburgh in 6 games; That’s right. I’m calling it early. This could completely be screwed up by the end of the [Tuesday] night. But I’m going to have to go with the Penguins on this one. The Caps are going to be too tired, and Pittsburgh looked awesome last round. Plus, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation is still mad at me, so I’m still mad at them.
Baxter: Pittsburgh in 6 games; Bettman must be doing cartwheels. Ouch. Bad visual on that one. Sorry about that. How about this instead: the top three in scorers this year playing head-to-head in what will easily be the series to watch. Fun fact: which two teams were the worst in the Eastern Conference three years ago? Answer: Pittsburgh and Washington. This will be like watching a fat kid at an all-you-can-eat buffet: Ovechkin has 10 goals and 11 assists in 16 games against Pittsburgh. Malkin has six goals and 11 assists in 12 games and Crosby has eight goals and 18 assists in 15 games against Washington. Apologies to all the fat kids out there. And the parents who feed them.
Mantooth: Dorothy Mantooth is a Saint, A SAINT!!!
Fantana: Your reporter in the field, Brian Fantana.
Tambland: I love playoffs.
Burgundy: Stay classy, conference semi finals.