by PuckStopsHere on 05/15/09 at 01:51 AM ET
The second round of the playoffs is complete. I had a 2-2 record on my predictions. Add this to my first round predictions which were 5-3 and I have an overall 7-5 record. I am keeping above .500, but it is nothing spectacular.
Let’s travel onward into the semi-finals. Here are my predictions:
Pittsburgh defeats Carolina I am very surprised Carolina got this far. The clearest reason that Carolina does not have a team one might expect to make the semi-finals is their defence. It is built around players like Joni Pitkanen and Joe Corvo, who are not exactly all star calibre defencemen. Pittsburgh made the finals last year and offers the best one-two offensive punch in the league with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The question mark in Pittsburgh is defence. How good will it be if Sergei Gonchar cannot play or is in a much weakened state due to his knee injury? Pittsburgh did not hold up well when Gonchar was out of the line-up during the regular season. Through much of the early regular season, neither the Gonchar-less Penguins nor the Hurricanes looked like they could be semi-finalists in the playoffs. It wasn’t clear either would make them.
Detroit defeats Chicago Of the three teams (Boston, Detroit, San Jose) that were at the front of the pack in the regular season standings, only Detroit is still alive. That makes them the Stanley Cup favorite at this point. They have weaknesses that a traditional Stanley Cup favorite shouldn’t have. Chris Osgood is not a particularly good goalie at this point in his career, but he has been satisfactory so far. The Red Wings have a pathetic 71.4% success rate on the penalty kill so far in the playoffs. That can be exploited by an opponent. Regular season MVP Pavel Datsyuk has not been a big contributor. I suspect we will learn he is playing with an injury after the Wings playoff run ends. That said the Wings are likely too much for a young Chicago team. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith et al offer a bright hope for the future, but they don’t seem ready for prime time yet. Nikolai Khabibulin is another former cup winning goalie (to join Osgood) who has not been a top level goalie in this playoff run, but is still in the race. Detroit has too many key players in Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Hossa and Franzen that it is not likely Chicago can stop them.
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