NHL Playoff Predictions: Eastern Conference Finals

Chris GschwendtnerCorrespondent IMay 5, 2008

Round Two's results were a shocker to me. I went 1-3 with my predictions,
but still sit 7-5 overall.

The Eastern Conference Finals

Pittsburgh Penguins (2) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (6)

Flashback 28 days to the final game of the regular season.

Flyers 2, Penguins 0.

If Pittsburgh had won that game, they would have finished
first overall in the Eastern Conference, and they would have faced the
would-be eighth-seeded Flyers in the first round. The Penguins tanked
that game in order to get the lowly Ottawa Senators in round one. Does this
game mean anything to this series outlook?

On one side, the Flyers are soaring high, with loads of confidence and a
sparkling postseason thus far. They went 5-3 overall against their
Pennsylvania rivals during the regular season, so they have had success
against the Pens. Their squad is healthy with the recent return of Mike
Knuble, and they are getting balanced scoring throughout their lineup. 

Biron is outperforming most people's expectations, seeing as he is a
rookie to the playoffs, but as was his counterpart Carey Price. I think the
Flyers could be this season's Cinderella team.

The Penguins disposed of the Senators and Rangers quickly, posting an 8-1
record in the postseason thus far, and a perfect 5-0 at home. The
majority of their young team is still in-tact from last season's taste of
the playoffs, and they now know what it takes.

Crosby has not been the Pens best player, and that is scary. Malkin, Malone, Hossa, and others have been playing great. Marc-Andre Fleury has been stellar in net, and their young defense has not broken down yet. The Penguins look like a powerhouse this playoffs, and could continue their success.

Here is a quick summary of the advantages per category.

Forwards: Advantage Pittsburgh

Defense: Advantage Philadelphia

Goalie: Advantage Pittsburgh

Coaching: Tie (perhaps slight edge to Pittsburgh due to having home-ice advantage)

Special Teams: Tie

Intangibles: Advantage Pittsburgh

With all that being said, I think I will be taking the Penguins to win this series in six games. 

Yes, Philly has been good this postseason; however, I believe the Penguins' competitors have been tougher teams. Washington was ecstatic just to make the playoffs, and Montreal's young goaltender was exposed to the pressure of winning the big game. The Rangers were a huge test for the Penguins, and they answered everything the Rangers did. They won the low-scoring games and the high-scoring games. For the Flyers to have a chance, Biron has to steal a game, which he is definitely capable of, and they must win the special teams battle as a team.

Overall: Penguins in six