NHL Conference Finals Preview

May 17, 2009 |

   After the excitement of three game 7′s in the last round and the epic battle between Ovechkin and Crosby, this round has a lot to live up to. It will be tough; but as you get closer to someone raising the Cup, unforgettable moments usually follow. I will try to do a quick analysis of the two conference finals and give you my predictions for their results. As always with my picks, I let you see how I did in the last round. With so many close series it was tough to be perfect. I, as you will see, was not.

second round                                  results                              my pick

DET/ANA                                 Red Wings in 7               Red Wings in 6

          I got this one, but Detroit sure made me sweat it out.

 VAN/CHI                              Blackhawks in 6               Canucks in 7

I knew it would be a tough series, but I expected a bigger performance out of Roberto Luongo.

 BOS/CAR                               Hurricanes in 7                 Bruins in 6        

I have underestimated the Canes this entire playoffs, I might not make that mistake again.

  PITT/WASH                      Penguins in 7                        Penguins in 6

 It took one more game than I thought, but I always felt that Pittsburgh had more weapons behind Crosby than Washington did behind Ovechkin.

 

                                 EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL

   #4  Pittsburgh Penguins     vs.        #6  Carolina Hurricanes

top scorers           Sidney Crosby                                 Eric Staal

                                  Evgeni Malkin                                  Jussi Jokinen

 

goaltender             Marc Andre Fleury                         Cam Ward

 

season series                       2                                                         2

 

    This is a series that really could go either way. They split in the regular season and you have a classic offense versus defense matchup.  The Carolina team is as mentally tough as they come. It easy to forget since they missed the playoffs the last two years, but they have won six straight playoff series now going back to their Stanley Cup year. There will be no match for the scoring firepower that Pittsburgh possesses, so goalie Cam Ward’s experience will be vital. A big question mark on the Penguins bench is how healthy Sergei Gonchar is. He is a veteran leader and a key component of their power play. If he is not close to one hundred percent it will be a huge loss for the Penguins. One flaw in Carolina’s playoff run has been a very disappointing power play. Against a team like Pittsburgh they will not be able to advance without capitalizing on their man advantages. I have picked against Carolina in both series so far, something won’t let me do it again. I see Pittsburgh as being more likely to let down after conquering Washington.

          My Pick:                        Hurricanes in     6

                             

                             WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL    

  #2  Detroit Red Wings         vs.    #4    Chicago Blackhawks

 

TS                Henrik Zetterberg                                  Martin Havlat

                    Johan Franzen                                         Patrick Kane

 

G                     Chris Osgood                                         Nikolai Khabibulin

 

season                       4                                                                       2

 

   This series is between two hated Big Six originals. The arenas will be at a fever pitch. This may benefit the Red Wings who have seen it all over the upstart Blackhawks. The Hawks have overcome everybody so far, but Detroit is a whole new ballgame. Both teams are extremely deep in the frontline, but Detroit possesses an edge with Lidstrom, Rafalski, and Kronwall manning the back. These are the top two teams in the power play during the playoffs, whoever can slow down their opponents in that part of the game will have a huge edge. Pavel Datsyuk has been almost non-existent lately, you can’t expect that to continue. If he heats up it might be a short series.  The Blackhawks are extremely inexperienced when it comes to this big a stage, except for Nikolai Khabibulin. He already has one Stanley Cup and is intent on getting another, if he can come up big and Martin Havlat stays hot we’ll have a barn burner. Otherwise Detroit will just feel a bump on the road on their way to the finals.

 

  MY PICK:                    Red Wings   in 6

   So my finals pick is a rematch of the 2002 Stanley Cup

           Detroit Red Wings  vs.  Carolina Hurricanes

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