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Third Round Playoff Predictions

The second round of the playoffs came to an end last night.  I went 2-2 in my second round playoff predictions, which combined with my first round predictions give me a 7-5 record.  It is interesting, that the predictions most challenged in the comments in the second round were San Jose and Chicago (the correct ones) and not Pittsburgh and Boston (the incorrect ones).  At this point, I have been perfect in West Conference predictions and only had one correct prediction (Pittsburgh over Ottawa) in the East Conference.  I guess that is to be expected when the 1 and 2 seed have survived in the West and the 7 and 8 seeds in the East.  My strongest prediction at this point is that a West Conference team will win the Stanley Cup.  In the regular season, San Jose finished 2nd, Chicago 3rd, Philadelphia 18th and Montreal 19th.  It doesn’t take much to see that the talented teams are in the west right now and that the western final is likely the de facto Stanley Cup championship.

Here are my third round predictions:

San Jose defeats Chicago   San Jose is the better team.  The biggest difference is in goaltending, where Chicago has rookie Antti Niemi, while San Jose has a much more proven Evgeni Nabokov.  It is more likely that Nabokov is the better of the two goaltenders going forward.  The narrative in many fan’s minds is San Jose is a choker, which really only means San Jose didn’t win in the past when i really thought they could.  San Jose has been the most consistent of the remaining playoff teams.  They have looked like the team least likely to choke so far.  I think they should be able to win this playoff series and make the finals.

Montreal defeats Philadelphia  We have a series between two teams that nobody imagined would make the semi-finals.  At times, people thought they might not make the playoffs at all.  If they were West Conference teams they certainly would not be playoff teams.  I am picking the hot goalie.  Jaroslav Halak has been the playoff MVP so far.  The most common way for a team to have an upset playoff run is to have a really hot goalie.  Montreal has that and that should be the difference.  Both teams are beaten up and come with injury issues.  It is unlikely that either team will be likely to win the Stanley Cup.

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Can’t really argue with either one of these picks. It’s been mentioned in other spots that Chicago owned SJ in the regular season, but then again so did the Wings. It’ll be a tight series, but the edge has to go to the Sharks here.

I’ve got a feeling that Montreal may just take this whole thing though—it’s just been that kind of year and if Halak keeps this up I wouldn’t bet against them.

Posted by TheNorm41 on 05/15/10 at 01:55 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

A hot goalie is likely to go cold at any time and I think Philadelphia’s style better matches up against Montreal.  I think the Flyers continue to show why they were an early season cup contender and make it past the Canadiens.

Of course, the Flyers goaltending is probably more likely to completely collapse than the Canadiens, I just think the people playing in front of the goalies are going to have a bigger impact (but get less credit).

Out West, I think you’re right on.  The choker label is something the Sharks will still have until they get to the cup finals, but this team has the scary look of another past team that shed a choker label to win the cup.  There’s no way to quantify this, but it just looks like they’re playing less scared than in previous years and I think the way they play will overmatch Chicago.

I also think Chicago got away with a lot of crap around Roberto Luongo that they won’t get away with around Evgeni Nabokov.  Luongo’s reputation as a whiner probably cost him some calls in that series.  Nabokov flops just as much as any goalie in the league, but he’s not known as a whiner, so I think enough of those goalie interference calls will go in his favor to make a difference.  Without Chicago’s big guys being able to crash the crease, it will limit enough of their scoring for San Jose to take the series. 

I think the wild card here is whether Marian Hossa starts playing like the big scoring winger he is or continues to play like the wilting lily people are starting to call him.  He’s supposed to be a much bigger difference maker than he has been so far.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/15/10 at 02:09 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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