Lance did a great job explaining the re-seeding process of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so I’ll just refer you to his post for that.
Today begins the second round of the playoffs. The first round definitely delivered a few surprises. Unfortunately for Land and me, two of those surprises were our teams (Lance’s Ducks and my Penguins) being eliminated. But life and hockey go on. There are still plenty of exciting games ahead of us. My team my be out of the race for the cup, but it is still a damn exciting race to watch. Where anything can happen.
Except that I’m pretty sure I know what will happen. Check it out.
1. Washington Capitals vs 5. Tampa Bay Lightning
This is going to be an explosive series. Both teams have very high powered offense. Both teams have very capable defensive lines. Both teams have goaltenders that are robbing players so often they make John Dillinger look like an amateur. Lance gave a great rundown of the stats in his second round predictions. Here’s where the difference is, and where it is going to turn the tide. Washington plays really hard, fast and aggressive. Just ask Sergei Gonchar. This means they are going to take penalties. The last thing you want to do is put the Tampa Bay Lightning on the power play. That’s like Superman giving Lex Luthor kryptonite for his birthday – a really bad idea.
If the Capitals can stay disciplined, they could pull off the win, but I don’t think they’ll be able to. It will be their downfall. Also, Marty St. Louis is an unstoppable beast.
TAMPA BAY IN 7
2. Philadelphia Flyers vs 3. Boston Bruins
The Flyers have a lot of offense. The Bruins have a lot of defense, due to Zdeno Chara. If they only had one defenseman, and it was Chara, they would still have more defense than the Flyers. That man is a monster. Now, the Flyers defense is far from terrible. And the Bruins can definitely score goals. So what this series comes down to is goaltending. You may have noticed this is a theme with me. Goaltending is important. And the Flyers have three capable goaltenders, but none of them compare to Tim Thomas in the Bruins net. Thomas set an all-time league record for save percentage this season. So, um, he’s pretty good.
Before the first round I would have never have thought the Buffalo Sabres would be able to take the Flyers to a game 7. But the Sabres found a very important weakness in the Flyers: if you rattle their goaltending, it crumbles. It was true no matter which goaltender was in net, be that Brian Bocher, Michael Leighton, or Segei Bobrovsky.
A bruin is a bear. And bears are very good at rattling things.
BRUINS IN 6
1. Vancouver Canucks vs 5. Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators played a great series against the Anaheim Ducks to advance past the first round of playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The Vancouver Canucks played a good series, then a bad series, then a great series (at least Alexandre Burrows did), to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that has eliminated them several times in the past. So now these two teams meet. How will it play out?
The Predators made me eat my words from my first round predictions, when I referred to Patric Hornqvist being the only serious threat on their team. That team showed that they have threats on every line and a goaltender that can back them up. But as impressed as I am, its hard to find a team that has more threats than the Vancouver Canucks. If you are Pecca Rinne , standing in your net, and the Canucks make charge into your zone who do you watch? Ryan Kessler? Mason Raymond? Alex Burrows? Wait, now you need to shift your attention to the blue line because Christian Erhoff has the puck. Or Kevin Bieska. Also, let’s not forget about Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Even if you don’t have the puck you’ll end watching them, if for no other reason than to figure out which one is which.
Not to mention at the other end of the ice is Roberto Luongo. Even though he had his confidence rocked during the last series, you have to imagine that game 7 win restored his confidence by exorcising some serious demons.
No disrespect this time, but the Predators just don’t measure up.
VANCOUVER IN 5
2. San Jose Sharks vs 3. Detroit Red Wings
It’s disappointing to me that the San Jose Sharks were able to beat the Los Angeles Kings. I thought for sure the superior goaltending of the Kings would be able to stand up to the Sharks, whose goaltending has historically been pretty weak. But I was wrong. The Kings couldn’t muster enough offense to really challenge the Sharks goaltending. This will not be a problem with the Detroit Red Wings, a team that just swept the Phoenix Coyotes, who have one of the best goaltenders in the league in Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Red Wings have had a long rest while the first round finished. That normally affects teams adversely. But I doubt it will have that effect here. These are the Detroit Red Wings, the team that has made it to the playoffs 19 times. Oh, yeah, they’ve also won the Stanley Cup 11 times. In case you are wondering, that is the most of an United States based team and third in the history of the sport. In other words, a lot. Even if Nicklas Lidstrom starts playing sloppy due to his age (he won’t), or Pavel Datsyuk is too rested to play with urgency (he isn’t), Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen will be joining the team for the first time in this post-season, having mended their injuries. That’s like having a cannon and then having a cannon on top that cannon – that shoots flaming, explosive cannonballs.
In case you are wondering where you get cannonballs like that, they are made in Detroit. What to they do? They kill Sharks.
DETROIT IN 6