NHL Playoff Predictions 2011: Second Round Preview
I correctly predicted all four Western Conference teams that advanced in the first round as well as three of the four winners in the Eastern Conference. That is because despite many road wins and tougher-than-usual series, the only "upsets" were the five seeds beating the four seeds.
You can note from those links that my predictions were off by no more than one game, overestimating the time needed to win for the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators and underestimating the time needed for Vancouver, Boston and Philadelphia. The number of games was exact on the other three series, though the Lightning beat the Penguins.
So how do I see the second round going?
Vancouver over Nashville in six.
No, Vancouver is not out of the woods. Their first-round struggles against Chicago were not because they were playing the defending champions or because the Blackhawks had the mental edge from beating them in successive years.
Vancouver has been exposed as lacking killer instinct and maybe even heart. They could not handle the intense pressure.
But they are just better than Nashville, and have been here before. Ryan Suter and Shea Weber can shut down the Sedin line if they could shut down the Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan line. While Nashville is playing a much better goalie this round, they simply lack the horses to win—unless the Canucks quit playing early like they did against Chicago.
How many of these second round picks will be correct?
The winner of this series is my pick to win the Stanley Cup, because both have more mettle than Vancouver and either winner in the Eastern Conference...
The Capitals have learned to play defence and have a better blue line and forward lines. The goaltending pits an aging veteran against a youngster whose ability to perform at an elite level has to be questioned.
Having home ice may still be an edge for Washington, but division matchups always favour the lower-seeded team. Still, unless Dwayne Roloson outplays Michal Neuvirth by a wide margin, Washington has too much considering the territory is less new for them.
Boston over Philadelphia in seven
Boston survived a slow start against a division rival who has their playoff number, in which they were without their best skater for one game. They've won four of the last five, including two on the road, and did it without a power play goal.
More that that, they have a goalie they can rely on, and eventually their power play will convert. Meanwhile, Philadelphia's problems are the same ones that had people apprehensive to pick them before the season started.
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