Playoff Picture: Conference Semi's

Joel Dundas@@JRDundasCorrespondent IApril 23, 2008

After an exciting first round of playoff action it is time for the nitty gritty. The conference semi's are about to start, and some surprising upsets, and some expected champions have managed to stave elimination and are ready to battle it out in the next round of playoff action. It is time once again to make predictions on the second round Match-ups.

Eastern Conference 

Montreal Canadiens (No. 1) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (No. 6)

Montreal coming off a surprising seven game struggle against the eighth seeded Bruins look to rebound, and take out a strong Flyers club. The Canadiens big guns are going to have to be firing if they are going to want to beat Phili. A little more offensive productions from players such as Kovalev will be needed. If Carey Price can keep up his stellar goaltending that was shown last round Montreal should have a strong advantage over the Flyers.

Philadelphia has not had the better of the season series to date. The Flyers met the Canadiens four times in the regular season, and lost all four by a combined score of 15-5. A much better effort will need to be put forth if the Flyers even want a shot at winning the series. Players such as Briere, Prospal, and Richards will have to keep up the amazing pace from the first round. Martin Biron will have to be very good once again. Better defensive efforts need to be put forth from players such as Smith if they want to win.

Although the Flyers pulled off a size-able upset in the first round history will likely nopt repeat itself this round. The Canadiens will be more aware, because of the near loss in the first round and take this one four games to two.

Pittsburgh Penguins (No. 2) vs. New York Rangers (No. 5)

After a fairly decisive sweep over the lacklustre Senators the Penguins will look to continue the trend against the Rangers. No real blemishes for the Penguins in the first round. Crosby after starting off slow finished with eight points in the last three. Malkin had a very good first round recording seven points in the first four, also Ryan Malone has been a pleasant surprise. On defence Ryan Whitney was excellent going + five, as were the rest of the defensive core. Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had a very good first round surrendering only five goals on the 105 shots he faced from the Sens.

The Rangers also had a very good first round. Jagr after a fairly dismal season came back into form scoring eight points in five games. Gomez, Dubinsky, Avery, and Straka all accomplished above or equal to a point a game. Rozsival, and Staal will need to be a shut down tandem once again, and both will likely receive over 22 minutes a game, again. Lundqvist outplayed Martin Brodeur which is a lofty feat, and should not go unnoticed.

This series may be the best of the second round and should feature excellent talent for both teams. The season series between the two teams went in the Rangers favour five games to three, with the Rangers outscoring the Pens 21-16. The trend will likely not continue, but the series is sure to be one of the best of the second round. Penguins should take the series four games to three.


Western Conference

Detroit Red Wings (No. 1) vs. Colorado Avalanche (No. 6)

The Detroit Red Wings seemed to have struggled with the Preds in the first round which may bode well for the Avalanche. Better play should be expected of: Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Zetterberg, and Cleary. All did not play up to the level that should be expected of them. Kronvall, and Rafalski both had a good first round, and will need to keep up the pace. Goaltender Chris Osgood will likely get the nod in net for the series, due to the amazing job he did in the games he played.

Colorado pulled off the upset in round one knocking off the third seeded Minnesota Wild, and look to keep the streak running. Sakic, and Forsberg will likely lead the way once again Hejduk will have to find his stride after a disappointing first round. Jose Theodore had an excellent first round posting a .940 save percentage, and will have to continue that pace.

The Avalanche have had a very disappointing season series against the Wings this season losing all four games and only scoring two goals in those four games. However The Avs have a good shot against the Wings, and may pull off the upset. Avalanche will take the series four games to two.

San Jose Sharks (No. 2) vs. Dallas Stars (No. 5)

After a hard fought battle against the Flames the Sharks look to continue their fortunes against the Stars. Marleau, Thornton, Pavelski, and Clowe provided the majority of the offence in the series. Defensemen Christian Ehrhoff performed very well, but more is expected of Campbell and Rivet. Nabokov was good, and has to continue to be good against the high flying forwards of Dallas.

Very few had faith in the Stars to defeat the defending champs, but they did it and quite convincingly at that. Dallas had five skaters at or above the point a game mark with Ribiero leading the way. Robidas, and Norstrom carried the load on defence, and Marty Turco was stellar in net.

An upset may be in the making in this series. Possibly one of the more exciting series. Dallas will take four games to three.

Conference Finals Series

Montreal (No. 1) vs. Pittsburgh (No. 2)

Dallas (No. 5) vs. Colorado (No. 6)




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