So I'm a little late in posting my predictions for round two of the NHL playoffs. As you will read, however, you won't be able to accuse me of cheating, since only one of my picks has a win so far!
I still stand by my original calls.
Teams are starting to see the Cup at the end of the tunnel, and it just got one step closer. Going into the playoffs, each team knew it needed 16 wins before any players could drink from Lord Stanley's Holy Grail of Hockey.
Now, it's down to 12 wins for any one of the eight teams left. Who will advance, and who will be questioning what could have been? No one knows for sure, but I'll give it a shot!
Detroit Red Wings vs. Colorado Avalanche
Now, I'm torn. I initially pegged the Wings to emerge as the Western Conference champs, but I also picked the Avalanche as the dark horse of the playoffs.
The Red Wings seemed shaky at best in net, opting for Chris Osgood over Dominik Hasek.
The Avalanche, on the other hand, have been getting more than ample net-minding from José Theodore and, as I mentioned in another post, the Avalanche alumni of Sakic, Forsberg, Foote, Hejduk and company seem to be picking up where they left off the last time they won a cup for Colorado.
Prediction: Colorado in 7. There, I said it.
San Jose Sharks vs. Dallas Stars
While the Stars really impressed me with their offensive outbursts, especially on the power-play, I think they were up against an Anaheim team that was either A, buying into their own hype; B, not as united or on the same wavelength as a team as one would think; or C, both.
Not to take anything away from the Stars' well-deserved win, but I believe they are in for a different ride when they meet the Sharks. Joe Thornton seems to have broken out of "playoff dud" mode, and I believe this Sharks team has one unifying goal in mind: make it to the Finals.
The only thing they have against them is a fatigue factor, while the Stars have been sitting for awhile waiting for their next opponent to be revealed.
Prediction: San Jose in 6
New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby, Hossa, Malkin, and Fleury.
Jagr, Drury, Gomez, and Lundqvist.
I am going to bet on experience and Stanley Cup wins. While, eventually, Crosby and company will win the Stanley Cup, I don't think this is their year. The Rangers not only poured it on down the stretch and awoke the sleeping giant within Jaromir Jagr, Drury and Gomez looked like they were born and raised to play in Madison Square Garden.
Assuming the Penguins do come on strong offensively, and you know they will, Martin Gerber won't be between the pipes. The goalie poised to stop the onslaught is none other than Vezina trophy candidate Henrik Lundqvist.
While Marc-André Fleury proved he is no slouch at his own end, I have to think that the Rangers are less worried about Fleury, having recently conquered Martin Brodeur. The Pens, however, will make a series out of this.
Prediction: New York in 6
Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers
I have already stated in a previous post all the reasons why the Canadiens wanted this match-up, as opposed to the Rangers, in round two.
So, to not risk sounding repetitive, I'll cut it short.
Prediction: Habs in 6. And if Daniel Briere thought he got booed badly on previous visits to the Bell Centre, he ain't seen nothing yet!