After a first round full of seventh games, we can only hope that the second round can match that excitement. Unlike in past years, all of the top seeds have advanced; so we should see the best of the best from here forward.
#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #5 Nashville Predators
Season series: 2 2
Top Scorers: Daniel Sedin Sergei Kostitsyn
Henrik Sedin Martin Erat
Alex Burrows Mike Fisher
Goalies: Roberto Luongo Pekka Rinne
The Canucks definitely have more firepower. In addition to the Sedin’s , they have Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson to pour in goals. They were extended a tough seven games, but Pekka Rinne will have to up his game from the inconsistent performance last series to give his Preds any shot.
MY PICK: CANUCKS in 5
#2 San Jose Sharks vs. #3 Detroit Red Wings
Series: 3 1
Scorers: Patrick Marleau Henrik Zetterberg
Joe Thornton Pavel Datsyuk
Ryane Clowe Valtteri Filppula
Goalies: Antti Niemi Jimmy Howard
I know that everyone is picking the Wings in this series, but I will go against the grain. The Red Wings had their way with the Coyotes, but the Sharks will be tougher. San Jose dominated Detroit during the regular season, so there will be no fear. Plus, Detroit is far from completely healthy and I think the Sharks take advantage of that.
MY PICK: SHARKS in 6
#1 Washington Capitals vs. #5 Tampa Bay Lightning
Series: 4 2
Scorers: Alex Ovechkin Martin St. Louis
Nicklas Backstrom Steven Stamkos
Alexander Semin Simon Gagne
Goalies: Michal Neuvirth Dwayne Roloson
In a series that features some of the most talented scorers in the game, it may well be the goaltending that defines the series. You have the classic newcomer vs. grizzled veteran matchup between the pipes. Neuvirth acquitted himself well in the first round, will the pressures catch up with him. Both goalies will face well-oiled machines coming at them. Ovechkin, Backstrom, Arnott, St. Louis, Stamkos, Lecavlier. It’s more like an all-star game a regular matchup. I think this will be the premier series of the round.
MY PICK: CAPITALS in 7
#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #3 Boston Bruins
Season: 1 3
Scorers: Claude Giroux Milan Lucic
Danny Briere David Krejci
Mike Richards Patrice Bergeron
Goalies: Brian Boucher Tim Thomas
This series will feature hard hitting and conservative play. Both teams will try to play it close to the vest and not give up many scoring opportunities. The Flyers got by Buffalo, but still can’t be 100 percent sure what to make of their goaltending. That will be tough against Tim Thomas, who got a lot better after a tough start to the last series. The Flyers have been bolstered by the recent return of Chris Pronger, while Boston now ill have revenge on its mind. I think the Bruins will erase the bad memory of last years debacle after being up 3-0.
MY PICK: BRUINS in 5