SJ's NHL Playoff Preview (Round 2)
Shiphockey7 and -C.B.- , SportsJabbers Resident Hockey Gurus, take on Round Two of the NHL playoffs.
Read what each team needs to do in order to fulfill their fate as winners of the Stanley Cup, and what our staff thinks their chances truly are.
So sit back and enjoy our “Road to the Stanley Cup” series.
In the regular season, the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks have split their season series, each team getting two wins over the other. The last meeting was won by the Vancouver Canucks 4–0.
Keys to Success:
For the Vancouver Canucks half of their “keys to success” is in their head, they need to have the same focus and determination as they had in the first round.
Mats Sundin should be rested and recovered by now and he really needs to be a presence out on the ice.
The Canucks need to eliminate their post-play activities. Taking a stupid penalty because someone pushed you and you feel like you need to retaliate, needs to be nipped in the butt, the Blackhawks are on a role on the PP.
The Chicago Blackhawks will need to finish on their chances. The Hawks have enough skilled players to get off the one-timer and have the ability to finish on the high percentage shots.
They should also focus on trying to get under the Canuck forwards' skin (e.g Alex Burrows) making them draw the penalties.
If history has taught us anything, when the Hawks make it past the first round, they usually take the second round. Can this Hawks team improve those odds?
The Pick: Canucks in 6
Keys to Success:
Detroit needs to correct the mistakes they made in game 4 against Columbus that allowed them to score five times.
But with three dominant performances in the 1st three games it’s hard to critique this team. They just need to remain focused and not get too overconfident because the Ducks have won the Cup too.
Anaheim is going up against the top team on the PP and a team that has taken the least amount of penalties. If they hope to be successful they are going to need to limit the penalties they take, which I’m not sure they can do.
The only ace up the sleeve that I can see the Ducks having is Jonas Hiller. If he can bail the Ducks out this might be one of this year's biggest playoff upsets.
The Pick: Detroit in 6
The Capitals went 3-0-1 against the Penguins this season. They possess one of the most dynamic offensive threats in the NHL. Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green can all hold their own in terms of scoring goals.
The real question mark in the series for Washington is in net. Simeon Valarmov took over for Jose Theodore after game 1 of their quarterfinal round, and has accumulated an impressive 1.17 GAA.
The Penguins, not to be outdone have 2 of the top 3 scoring leaders in the regular season in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Marc-Andre Fleury stole a few games from the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round and he may be asked to do that again this round.
In the end, I think Malkin, Crosby and Co. bring a lot more firepower than the New York Rangers did against Valarmov and the Pens win the series.
The Pick: Penguins in 6
A young lineup could be a problem for the Bruins, but with defense led by Zdeno Chara and a Vezina Trophy nominee, Tim Thomas, in net, it will be tough to score against the Bruins. Phil Kessel, Marc Savard, Milan Lucic and Co. will have to score their goals against an experienced Carolina team.
The Hurricanes, many of whom still are around from the 2004 Cup winning team, have been one of the hottest teams since the trade deadline acquisition of Erik Cole.
Cam Ward is a former Conn Smythe winner and he will need to be their MVP of this series to get past a formidable opponent. I don't think he can do it.
The Hurricanes will be worn out from beating the Devils in seven games, while the Bruins had won in four games and have been resting since.
The Pick: Bruins in 7
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