by PuckStopsHere on 04/29/10 at 11:18 AM ET
The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs are over. Here are my first round picks. I went 5-3, missing the losses of each of the top three seeds in the East Conference. The fact that the West Conference was significantly better when playing the East Conference in the regular season coupled with the defeats of the top East Conference seeds make a West Conference Stanley Cup winner look quite likely at this point.
Here are my second round predictions:
San Jose Sharks defeat Detroit Red Wings This series is billed in many people’s minds as the top playoff team in recent years against the biggest playoff chokers of those times. I do not buy into that. It isn’t logical that merely by wearing the laundry of a given team, a player who has won big tournaments in his life can no longer do it or that by wearing that laundry a player is suddenly able to win more often than he could otherwise. San Jose has more dangerous offensive players than Detroit. San Jose had six 50 or more point scores this year to Detroit’s two. San Jose had three 80 point scorers and Detroit’s top scorer had 70 points. Detroit does have a better defence, led by Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski, but it is not a big difference. San Jose’s Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Rob Blake lead a good defence. San Jose has the more proven goalie in Evgeni Nabokov. San Jose is the more talented team right now. If the Sharks win, they will shed their unwarranted reputation as playoff chokers. That’s OK. The Washington Capitals can take over as the unwarranted choker team in fan’s minds.
Chicago Blackhawks defeat Vancouver Canucks Chicago is the better team here. They have more offensive weapons with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. They have better defencemen in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. That is not to say that Vancouver is not a good team. Roberto Luongo is the stronger goalie, though he has yet to show his ability to steal games. The Sedins are very good players, but Chicago has more offensive weapons.
Pittsburgh Penguins defeat Montreal Canadiens Montreal had a good performance from goaltender Jaroslav Halak to come back from a 3-1 deficit against Washington. They will need him to be extra-ordinary against Pittsburgh as well. Pittsburgh is the defending Stanley Cup champions and has a strong group of offensive players led by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar and others. They should be strong enough to stop the surprising Habs.
Boston Bruins defeat Philadelphia Flyers The Flyers had a surprisingly strong performance from their number three goalie in Brian Boucher to get out of the first round. They have key injuries to Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne. They are unlikely to be able to continue winning in the playoffs. Boston is not the strongest playoff team either, but they have much stronger goaltending with Tuukka Rask playing especially well and have top offensive player Marc Savard returning from injury. Boston should be able to defeat the Flyers.
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