For those wnst.net readers that still care about the NHL playoffs now that the Caps are out; here is a small description of what is coming up next. The Western Conference is full of the powerhouses, while the East has become the Penguins and a bunch of flawed teams. As the Caps stunning first round loss has proven, the Stanley Cup playoffs are the least predictable of the 4 major North American leagues. So, of course I will try to predict it anyway.You will notice a pattern in my series picks.
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #8 Montreal Canadiens
Top scorers: Sidney Crosby Michael Cammalleri
Evgeni Malkin Tomas Plekanec
Sergei Gonchar Scott Gomez
Goalies: Marc-Andre Fleury Jaroslav Halak
For getting past Alex Ovechkin, the Canadiens get the pleasure of meeting up with Crosby and Malkin. If Halak continues to be impenetrable and the Montreal defense holds Pittsburgh to 2% on the power play, then the Canadiens will be okay. I just can’t see their luck (and incredible play)holding up for another series.
PENGUINS IN 6
#6 Boston Bruins vs. #7 Philadelphia Flyers
Top scorers: Patrice Bergeron Mike Richards
David Krejci Chris Pronger
Mark Recchi Claude Giroux
Goalie: Tuukka Rask Brian Boucher
One of these two very flawed teams will be in the Eastern conference final. Both teams are dealing with injuries to key players. That makes it a very difficult series to read. In the end, I can’t see Boston generating enough offense to get it done; but if Rask soars or Boucher stumbles…it’s possible.
FLYERS IN 6
#1 San Jose Sharks vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
Top scorers: Joe Thornton Henrik Zetterberg
Ryane Clowe Pavel Datsyuk
Joe Pavelski Niklas Lidstrom
Goalie: Evgeni Nabokov Jimmy Howard
I picked the Sharks to take home the Cup this year back in October. I am going to stick with it. I think this team will finally get over the hump. The Pavelski/Clowe/Segotuchi line has been on fire. If they can get Thornton and Dany Heatley to step up their games, they will be almost unstoppable. The Red Wings are still formidable, but they are not the Red Wings of two years ago. Injuries and age have seen to that.
SHARKS IN 6
#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #3 Vancouver Canucks
Top scorers: Patrick Kane Henrik Sedin
Johnathan Toews Daniel Sedin
Duncan Keith Mikael Samuelsson
Goalie: Antti Niemi Roberto Luongo
This series brings alot of animosity to the table. The teams don’t like each other and that will bring an extra dimension of toughness to the series. The Blackhawks will be better able to handle that part of the game in my opinion. Their skilled players are just a little bit meaner. And Luongo hasn’t really been dominant post-Olympics.
BLACKHAWKS IN 6