NHL 2011 Playoff Predictions: Second Round Matchup Projections
After an exciting first round, which included many Game 7 matchups, the teams that survived are now preparing for the second round, which actually starts tonight.
The four teams that advanced in the East are the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers, and the Boston Bruins.
The Capitals will take on the Lightning, and the Flyers will take on the Bruins.
In the West, the four teams moving on are the Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators, and the Detroit Red Wings.
The Sharks will battle the Red Wings in a rematch from last year, and the Predators will play against the Canucks.
It looks like the second round will be as exciting as the first round.
No. 1 Capitals vs No. 5 Lightning
Last round: In the first round, the Capitals defeated the Rangers in five games, besting Henrik Lundqvist and the Blueshirts.
The Lightning overcame a three to one game deficit on the Crosby and Malkin-less Pittsburgh Penguins, winning 1-0 in regulation on the road. They showed toughness, and that they have the ability to come back against the odds.
The Capitals got an amazing performance from rookie Michael Neuvirth, and have a solid back-up in Semyon Varlamov.
The Lightning got very solid goaltending from veteran Dwayne Roloson, who held off a lot of shots in the last couple of games, recently pitching a 1-0 shutout to win the series in seven.
As for offense, the Lightning have a Big 3, Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos, and Martin St. Louis.
As do the Capitals, with Niklas Backstrom, Alex Semin, and of course, Alex Ovechkin. I'd give the offensive edge to the Capitals however, as they are stacked.
I'd also give the edge to the Caps for defense, as they have a great fore-check.
Prediction: Caps win series 4-2
The Capitals have too much fire power, slightly better goaltending, and significantly better defense. Roloson may be able to steal a game or two for the Lightning, and the games will be close, but I think the Caps will emerge victorious.
No. 2 Flyers vs No. 3 Bruins
Last round: Flyers were just able to hold off the hot Buffalo Sabres in seven games, winning game seven pretty outright.
Same for the Bruins as for seven games, but their situation was even more hairy- game seven overtime. But the Bruins emerged the victor, and moved on to the second round
The Flyers have a decent net tandem in Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher, the latter won game seven. Boucher has looked decent, not like a cup-winning goaltender though. The Flyers offense has helped a lot.
The Bruins have the best in the league, Tim Thomas in net. So the Bruins get the edge in that category.
The Flyers offense, which consists of Carter, Hartnell, Briere, and more, beats the Bruins offense, whose major weapons are Michael Ryder, Nathan Horton, and Patrice Bergeron.
Prediction: Flyers win series 4-3
The Flyers offense is significantly better than the Bruins, but the Bruins netminding is significantly better than the Flyers. In the end, I think the Flyers and their offense will prevail, as they showed up during the Buffalo series.
No. 1 Canucks vs No. 5 Predators
Last round: The Canucks finally exorcised their demons, the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the playoff series the previous two years.
After jumping out to a three to nothing series lead, the Blackhawks never said die, and tied the series, and pushed game seven to overtime when Toews scored with under two minutes left. The Canucks must've been really worried, until they got a huge game winner from Burrows.
The Predators were able to beat the mighty Anaheim Ducks in six games, getting great goaltending from Pekka Rinne. To be honest, they kind of surprised me with their strong play vs Anaheim.
Goaltending: This is a pretty even matchup, though I'd give the edge to the Predators, slightly. Rinne has been a rock in net, and Luongo has been quite shaky. However, when on top of his game, Roberto Luongo is a wall.
Offense: The edge would have to go pretty easily to Vancouver here, as they have the Sedin twins, Burrows, and Kesler. The Predators counter with Shea Weber, Hornqvist, Ward, and Fisher.
Prediction: Canucks win series 4-2
Alright, this is very similar to the Capitals and Lightning series. Both have great netminders, but the Canucks have way more offensive firepower. That's going to be the difference against a Nashville team that bested the Ducks.
No. 2 Sharks vs No. 3 Red Wings
Last round: Sharks beat the Los Angeles Kings four games to two, and won three in Overtime, so they are comfortable in the extra period. Niemi was shaky, but Niittymaki showed he was solid coming off the bench in two occasions, once even helping the Sharks win a comeback game 6-5 in OT.
The Red Wings swept the Phoenix Coyotes, which is always a good sign. However, they haven't played a game since the 20th. So there will be the rust factor.
For goalies, even though Niittymaki has looked far better so far in the Playoffs, Niemi is sure to get the start who performed great against the Wings this year. He should be able to rebound.
The Red Wings will ride Jimmy Howard, who's looked a tad shaky in his sophomore campaign. So the edge in the pipes goes to San Jose.
For what it's worth, the Sharks won the season series three games to one.
Also last postseason, the Sharks won the series matchup four games to one, so they have the confidence factor.
The Sharks are very deep offensively, leading the way with Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, and strong second-string scorers Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe, Devin Setoguchi, and rookie Logan Couture.
The Wings look to match that with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterburg, and Tomas Holmstrom.
While the Wings have a great offensive line, the Sharks are a deeper team, and have an edge in offense.
Prediction: Sharks win series 4-2
Last year, the Sharks won the series 4-1, but the Red Wings are still a tough team nonetheless, but the Sharks are too good a team, and shouldn't have too much trouble if Niemi plays solid in the net.