Well, you can call me “The Swami”, you can call me “The Great Prodigy”, you can call me “The Master”… I really don’t care what you call me, but I did pick each and every first round match-up correctly. Albeit, I didn’t think for one second that the Vancouver/Chicago series would go the full 7, or that Philly would have such a difficult time with Buffalo, but the common denominator is – I got em right. Sorry, just felt like I needed a pat on the back here…
Anyway, I will refrain from revealing my picks for the second round match-ups, simply because I like the fact that I’m 100% correct at the moment and, hell, why ruin a perfect thing? But here are some titillating thoughts on the series’…
SERIES A: #1 Vancouver vs. #5 Nashville
Considering how much trouble the Canucks had with the Blackhawks, many people think that they will have the same amount of difficulty with Nashville. If you look at the regular season record versus the Preds, those people could be correct. The clubs split the 4 games played during the season, and each game turned into defensive struggles. Neither team scored more than 3 goals, and 2 of the games ended in low scoring shut-outs (1 for each team). For Vancouver, Roberto Luongo has been shakey at best and Ryan Kesler has been invisible. Nashville has had a bit more rest and looked pretty good in their upset bid over Anaheim, but can they keep up the pace???
SERIES B: #2 San Jose vs. #3 Detroit
This will be an intriguing series. San Jose had a pretty hard time putting away L.A. while Detroit made mince-meat of Phoenix. But, San Jose has had Detroit’s number all year – they outscored Detroit 15 to 9 while taking 3 of 4 regular season meetings. Both teams have explosive offensive capabilities, both teams have above average goaltending, so I think this series will come down to special teams and defensive play. Which ever club comes out on the upper end of power plays and PK’s will take it.
SERIES C: #1 Washington vs. #5 Tampa Bay
Here is a match-up of division rivals. Washington and Tampa know each other VERY well, and their games throughout the season were definitely entertaining. For Tampa, Stamkos & St. Louis are a dynamic duo that can make the Caps pay for any mistake, but Washington’s new-found “defense first” philosophy could make it awfully difficult for the Lightning’s stars. This series will ultimately boil down to goaltending – the old guard versus the new blood, the ageless wonder Roloson versus the rookie Neuvirth.
SERIES D: #2 Philly vs. #3 Boston
Well, I really don’t know what to make of this series. Philly has issues in net, Boston is having problems with their power play – it’s just ugly. Flip a coin and your guess at a series winner here will be just as good as anyone else’s. Both teams needed the full 7 games to dispatch their first round opponents and neither team looked like they were ever really in control. The return of Chris Pronger could tip the scales in the direction of the Flyers, but you never know when Bruin’s netminder Tim Thomas will steal one.
All this being said, this year’s run for the almighty grail known as Lord Stanley’s Cup will continue to be interesting. For us die-hard hockey fans, this is the time of year we rejoice in all that is right with the world – even if our own team’s participation mirrors our own, from behind the glass or through a television… ENJOY!!!