Wednesday, April 23, 2008

2008 Playoffs: Second Round Predictions

We're on to round two of the playoffs! This is generally where the real Cup contenders start to separate themselves from the other remaining teams and I don't think this season will be any different. I think this will be the round where we look back and see that the eventual finalists really started to get on a roll.

Eastern Conference

(1) Montreal vs. (7) Philadelphia
Breakdown: I'm man enough to admit that I really have no handle on Montreal at this point. I really don't think that highly of them and would love to pick against them in round two. That said, I also have a hard time picking Martin Biron to get a team to the Conference Finals. I guess that's my long way of saying that I go back and forth on this series.
Player to Watch:
Derian Hatcher (PHI) - Hatcher may be the worst skater in the NHL today. Not just among playoff teams either, I'm talking all 30 teams here. Having said that, if he can keep up with Montreal's speedy group of forwards and help neutralize them then Philly stands a much better chance of getting by the Habs.
Flyers in 6

(2) Pittsburgh vs. (5) New York Rangers
Breakdown: This is the premier match up in the East to me. I am on record as saying that I think the winner of this series will win the Cup. The Rangers did well against the Pens in the regular season, especially at MSG, but I'm not reading too much into that. Both teams are well rested so I don't think the layoffs benefit one particular team leading into game 1. It should be a pretty tight series, but the Devils were able to score a few goals against the Rangers which makes me think the Pittsburgh offense should be able to get the job done.
Player to Watch:
Michal Rozsival (NYR) - Rozsival has made a career out of playing the Pens since joining the Rangers and they will need some of that offensive boost from the blue line to get enough pucks by Marc-Andre Fleury to be competitive in this series.
Pens in 6

Western Conference

(1) Detroit vs. (7) Colorado
Breakdown: This rivalry doesn't carry quite the buzz it used to, but that doesn't mean we aren't in store for a good series. I think these teams match up pretty well and it should be a close series. I think Detroit is in a little better shape with Osgood in net and they have more talent and experience on defense. I think those two things will be enough to put them over the top. Joe Sakic and company are playing well enough to make quite a series of this though.
Player to Watch: Andrew Brunette (COL) - The Avalanche will need to continue to get goals from their depth players to make this a competitive series. If Brunette can carry over his hot hand from the series against Minnesota that will go a long way towards helping Colorado make life hard on Detroit.
Prediction: Wings in 7

(2) San Jose vs. (5) Dallas
Breakdown: Much like the Pens/Rangers series in the East, I think this series will produce the team that represents the Western Conference in the Finals. This should be a hard fought series and I think there will be more scoring than one might initially think. These teams are really close on paper and it really could go either way. I think Dallas has an edge though based on how they played while taking out the Ducks and the consistency they showed.
Player to Watch:
Brad Richards (DAL) - This series is why the Stars went out and got Richards at the trade deadline. He can be the difference maker for Dallas in this series with his scoring and two-way play. He will need to be among Dallas' top scorers in the series for them to move on.
Stars in 6

1 comment:

Jack said...

BS on the sharks - stars series... The stars beat the ducks because they took an insane amount of penalties...