If you missed any of the first round, I truly feel sorry for you. Best hockey I’ve seen in a long time. Bruins swept Le Canadiens. See ya to the frenchies, after those few knuckleheads boo a country’s national anthem. Grow up and learn some respect. Washington came back down 3-1 to New York. Carolina beat Brodeur in a Game 7. I still can’t believe that happened. Pittsburgh beat crosstown rival Philadelphia in six. In the West the Ducks were mighty (sorry J.R.) and beat the Sharks in six. It should have been a sweep the way they played. Detroit and Vancouver easily went by Columbus and St. Louis in sweeps. The young Blackhawks blew out the Flames in six to set up an even better second round of this years playoffs.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
1 Boston vs. 6 Carolina
After that emotional Game 7 win the Hurricanes now have to face the best in the east. The Bruins are well rested although I think that might hurt them. Zdeno Chara and Andrew Ference will need to be sharp to stop the Canes attack of Eric Staal and Ray Whitney. Goalie Tim Thomas has to be up to form in this one. Learn from the mistakes of Brodeur and don’t get beat in the last minute. Cam Ward has been brilliant in net so far for Carolina. The key here is defense. Both teams can score, but it will come down to who plays the best defense. Key players here are David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Both were great against Montreal, but must continue the success for the Bruins to prevail. Boston in seven.
2 Washington vs. 4 Pittsburgh
The two names of hockey are now going to clash for a spot in the Eastern Finals. Of course I’m referring to Miroslav Satan and Donald Brashear. You thought I was really that senile. CROSBY VS. OVECHKIN. You already knew anyway. Sid has something to prove here. To get back to the Finals he has to beat his top rival. He has help in Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar, but Ovie has Alexander Semin and Mike Green. Pretty even if you ask me. As in the previous round for these two it will come down to goaltending. Marc-Andre Fluery was fantastic in the net for the Penguins. And how about Simeon Varlamov for the Caps. You talk about pressure. Having to start Game 2 against the Rangers and shine the way he did for the rest of the series. Varlamov is the reason why the Caps are here. Ovechkin will win the Hart trophy and that is all he wins this year. Pittsburgh in seven.
Western Conference Semifinals
2 Detroit vs. 8 Anaheim
Everyone knows that the Ducks are no ordinary eighth seed. The defending champs will have their hands full with trying to contain Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan on the offense. Getting past Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin on the defense and trying to score on Jonas Hiller. Don’t get me wrong. The Red Wings have their stars in Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetteberg and Nick Lidstrom. The Wings will need another great performance out of Chris Osgood. The Ducks made Evgeni Nabokov look like a regular guy. What will they do with Osgood? Key player is Marian Hossa. If Hossa is kept quiet the Ducks will have no problem knocking off the champs. This time I go with my heart. Ducks in seven.
3 Vancouver vs. 4 Chicago
Quite possibly the best matchup in the West if not the second round. The Canucks play sound defense and score when they need to. Roberto Luongo is just amazing. He can stop almost anything, key word almost. This Blackhawk team is young, fast and hungry. They can smell the Cup. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are a superstar tandem. Chicago has hockey fever again and it’s thanks to them. Nikolai Khabibulin was great against Calgary and must be against Vancouver. Now more than ever Chicago needs Khabibulin to be on his game because there will be few scoring chances against Luongo. Key player is Martin Havlat. Havlat will need to take charge on offense for the Blackhawks to skate past Vancouver. Chicago in seven.
Without gloating (too much), the first round in a previous post was correct on all, but the Sharks vs. Ducks. I don’t see anything short of seven games for all the series. For more great hockey playoff previews and chatter check out hockeytalkbiz.