by PuckStopsHere on 05/14/13 at 01:59 AM ET
The first round of the playoffs is over with two series playing back-to-back games six and seven in the last two days and the second round set to start on the next day. The NHL's "hurry up" season due to the lockout continues into the playoffs. It will be interesting to see if this increased rate of games will make a difference as the playoffs continue. Should I be picking against teams that go to game sevens in the future?
My first round predictions went pretty well. I picked six right and missed two. The series i missed are the first and last to complete. I picked Vancouver and Washington to win in the first round. I think that a 6-2 result in the first round is about as good as can be expected. Anyone doing better than that (and that includes me in earlier years) required some good luck as well as good predictions.
Here are my second round predictions:
Pittsburgh Penguins defeat Ottawa Senators. I am impressed with the number of rookies making a contribution with the Sens. The team is also strengthened by the return from injury of stars Erik Karlsson, Craig Anderson (and possibly Jason Spezza in this round). That does make Ottawa a stronger team now than they have been at any point this season but they are still not strong enough to beat Pittsburgh. The Pens have too many stars led by Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Iginla. I don't see how Ottawa can match that. They also appear to have solved their Achilles heel in goal by turning to Tomas Vokoun. I think Pittsburgh should look better against Ottawa then they did against the New York Islanders. They have too much talent not to dominate.
Boston Bruins defeat New York Rangers. This is a match-up of the teams the won game sevens today. The Rangers biggest strength is Henrik Lundqvist in goal. Boston's Tuukka Rask is one of the few goalies in the league who may be able to match him in a seven game series. Boston has the offensive advantage with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Milan Lucic all playing well. The Rangers supposed offensive stars in Brad Richards and Rick Nash have not lived up to expectation so far. Boston also has Zdeno Chara to anchor their defence and he is probably the best defenceman in hockey today. This makes Boston the team to beat in this series.
Chicago Blackhawks defeat Detroit Red Wings. Chicago is the first place team in the league. They have unmatched depth with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp at forward and Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on defence. Detroit will be hard pressed to match it. The weakness in Chicago is goaltending. Corey Crawford is not likely to steal a series, but is Detroit much better here with Jimmy Howard in their net? Chicago is the team to beat this year and Detroit post-Lidstrom won't be able to do that.
Los Angeles Kings defeat San Jose Sharks. This is a battle of California. The defending Stanley Cup champions are facing an aging Sharks team that is probably in their last cup run with this core. Despite a Stanley Cup hangover, the Kings finished with two more wins than the Sharks. I think Los Angeles should be the stronger team in this series. Jonathan Quick should be on his game and ready to outplay Antti Niemi, the most improbable Vezina Trophy nominee in years.
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