by PuckStopsHere on 04/27/12 at 02:01 PM ET
The first round of the playoffs completed last night and the second round begins tonight. We are in the short window in which we can make second round picks right now.
My first round predictions did not go so well. I only predicted two of the first round series correctly (New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils). The first round was rather unpredictable and several of the top teams are gone. The last four Stanley Cup champions and the last two Presidents Trophy winners all lost out in the first round.
The previous top teams have failed to become elite teams and many of these remaining playoff teams failed to do as well as the non-elite teams in the regular season this year. It doesn’t look likely that we have any elite teams in the 2011/12 season, but I will write more on that when the finalists become clear. In the meantime here are my second round playoff predictions:
New York Rangers defeat Washington Capitals - Braden Holtby played very well in the first round of the playoffs but i have to wonder if it can be sustainable. He was the Capitals number three goalie before the playoffs began. Most likely Henrik Lundqvist will outplay him in net. Washington does have front end talent in Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom who have the ability to make it a tough series but the Rangers have more overall talent and are a better coached team. Thus they should likely win this series.
Philadelphia Flyers defeat New Jersey Devils - I wrote in the first round that neither New Jersey nor Florida should be good enough teams to survive the first round but since they matched up against each other at least one would survive and be second round fodder. Philadelphia won their high scoring series with Pittsburgh and Claude Giroux is the hottest player in the NHL and playoff MVP at this point. There are questions regarding Philadelphia’s goaltending as Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky did not perform well in the first round, but the Flyers should be the stronger team.
Los Angeles Kings defeat St Louis Blues - Los Angeles isn’t a typical eighth seed. They would have finished well above that level had the lopsided Jeff Carter trade occurred earlier in the season. St Louis is a team that overachieved in the regular season to win their division. Both teams have had strong goaltending, though I trust Jonathan Quick to keep it up better than either of Brian Elliott or Jaroslav Halak. The main difference is offence. Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Carter are the three best offensive players in this series. St Louis has nothing to match this. That doesn’t mean the Blues will be easy to defeat. They are a well coached bunch under Ken Hitchcock but I don’t think they will be able to muster the offence. David Backes led the Blues offensive and finished 74th in the league in scoring.
Nashville Predators defeat Phoenix Coyotes - Neither or these teams rely on a big offence. The Pekka Rinne versus Mike Smith match-up in goal may be a push. The big advantage for the Predators is Shea Weber and Ryan Suter give them two all star level defencemen and Phoenix has nothing to match this. Neither of these franchises has ever made it to the semifinals in the past. One is guaranteed to do so this year.
Let’s see how these predictions do. Will the improbable results of the first round continue or will be see some more predictability in the playoffs?
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