Thursday, April 26, 2012
Predictions For Round Two
(1) NEW YORK RANGERS vs. (7) WASHINGTON CAPITALS
This is the third time in four playoffs these two teams will face off, the Caps winning each series. And while the roles are reversed in terms of seeding, the main players are still the same. Henrik Lundqvist is always going to be the determining factor in most of the Rangers' games, while Alex Ovechkin will be piping mad from the first round and may want to prove the pundits wrong on the world's biggest stage at Madison Square Garden.
With what the Caps showed in Round One, this series could be a grind-fest of a series with things won or lost on the boards. Dale Hunter and John Tortorella could set a record for least amount of time spent on a podium in hopes they don't get fined.
PREDICTION: Capitals in Six. They showed a lot of moxy against the Stanley Cup champions and may have gotten a swagger back enough to take the Rangers for a third time in four years.
(5) PHILADELPHIA FLYERS vs. (6) NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Two Atlantic Division foes taking on each other will help with the no love loss in the playoffs thing. However, with Claude Giroux's explosion in Round One and the Flyers getting help from all aspects of the offense, it could make a rough series for Martin Brodeur and the Devils. Yet, the Devils are always up for the challenge, hoping to get more out of Adam Henrique and keep Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk going. With the issues Ilya Bryzgalov has had in the playoffs, one domino may be all that's needed for the Devils.
It could be a tighter game for the Flyers, especially since they know how defensive the Devils can be, so seeing their wide-open game could be just a first-round-mirage, but the rest time could be what they need to adapt.
PREDICTION: Flyers in Five. Despite the long lay-off, the Devils will be tired out and with their goaltending being on the older age scale, it could be a task for them to actually be competitive.
(2) ST. LOUIS BLUES vs. (8) LOS ANGELES KINGS
Well, this could be.....a long series. Emotionally and mentally draining. Not so much for fast game play, but for the chess match that will be going along with it all. The battle between Jonathan Quick and Brian Elliott will be something that keeps these games to 0-0 for the longest times. This could be a closer series than the Bruins/Capitals and the defense will be something to behold. It will be exciting even without the scoring, I'm sure.
Both squads will need their best players to keep going-- Dustin Brown may not be enough for the Kings, as Mike Richards and Jeff Carter need to get off the snide. The Blues will need to get more from TJ Oshie and David Perron, though Andy McDonald's eight points in five games could be a great start for his Conn Smythe bid.
PREDICTION: Blues in Six. While I like the Kings set-up and how they're able to keep things going-- the fact remains the Blues seem more of a complete team to me and will breakdown the Kings defense better than the Canucks did.
(3) PHOENIX COYOTES vs. (4) NASHVILLE PREDATORS
A battle between the last two teams that Jim Balsillie tried to buy, this other Western match-up will be a battle of the dueling goalies-- Pekka Rinne, who is a solid Vezina contender, and Mike Smith, the best statistical goalie since March. While Rinne has the advantage in terms of experience, we have seen that experience doesn't count for much in the playoffs this year.
At the end of the day, the dynamics that the Predators have, especially with Alexander Radulov coming on in a big way, the Coyotes may need to hope their luck from the first round keeps going and that their top players don't have the bumps and bruises they got against the Hawks.
PREDICTION: Predators in Five. With the scoring coming from unlikely sources and goaltending being solid, the Predators are a team that really want to get over the hump they have been dealing with for years.