After two rounds in the 2008 playoffs, only four teams are still battling for the Stanley Cup. We have had plenty of action already and a few surprises, as usual.
My predictions for the second round were completely off. I expected a hard-fought series between the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings. But the number of injured players on the Avalanche roster allowed the Wings to cruise by in four easy games.
I expected a clash between the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern conference final.
However, the splendid goaltending of Martin Biron and the eight goals scored by the very opportunistic forward R.J. Umberger of the Philadelphia Flyers contributed to a quick elimination of the Canadiens in five games.
The San Jose team was also one of my picks to advance, but the Dallas Stars and their captain Brenden Morrow raised their level another notch to dispose of the Sharks.
So what do I expect for the conference finals?
Eastern Conference Final
(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers
In my humble opinion, the Philadelphia Flyers emptied their pool of opportunity and their string of favorable bounces during the second round. The Pittsburgh Penguins' offensive firepower will be too much to handle for the slow defensive unit of the ''Broad Street Bullies.''
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marian Hossa have found their rhythm, and the team has lost only a single game so far in the 2008 playoffs. The Flyers will probably put up an honorable fight, but they will fall short.
My prediction: Pittsburgh in five games.
Western Conference Final
(1) Detroit Red Wings vs (5) Dallas Stars
Hopefully, this series will mark the end of the easy road for the Wings. This team has not been seriously challenged since October.
Yes, the Wings are talented, but the opposition in front of them has been mediocre during the playoffs.
The Dallas Stars will change this trend. They have sent home the defending Cup champions and a serious contender during the first two rounds.
If there is enough gas left in the tank across the Stars' roster, they should have a decent chance to upset the Wings.
Have I ever mentioned that I hate the Detroit Red Wings?
My prediction: Dallas in six games.