Stanley Cup Playoffs: Day Two Predictions

Chris BouthillierSenior Analyst IApril 16, 2009

BOSTON - JANUARY 13:  P.J. Axelsson #11 of the Boston Bruins heads for the net as Sergei Kostitsyn #74 of the Montreal Canadiens defends on January 13, 2009 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 3-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The first day of the playoffs is in the books and I am currently sitting with an even 2-2 record. Tonight features the other four matchups and should be just as exciting as last night's contests.

Eastern Conference

Montreal (8) @ Boston (1)

This Original Six rivalry highlights all first-round meetings as the Canadiens' quest for their 25th Stanley Cup begins in hostile territory. The Bruins dominated the Habs this season with a 5-0-1 record. While Boston has collectively enjoyed a breakout season the Canadiens have many question marks going into this series.

The lack of secondary scoring and inconsistent play from goaltender Carey Price may have the Montreal faithful in a panic. However, the Canadiens have a history of upsetting the Bruins in recent years—2002 and 2004—and will leave the regular season results in the past.

Boston has all three aspects you need to be an elite team—size, speed and skill. Look for Milan Lucic to establish himself this series as the hometown folk hero looks to put the hammer down on all and any players who don the 'CH'.

If the Bruins can remain focused on the task at hand they should have no problem taking the series.

Game One Winner: Boston


Western Conferece

Columbus (7) @ Detroit (2)

This one has 'upset' written all over it.

Of course Detroit—the reigning Stanley Cup champion—has the depth for another playoff run but we as fans can't help but cheer for the underdog. The Columbus Blue Jackets will be making their first-ever post-season appearance and have the opportunity to prove their credibility in the league.

With coach Ken Hitchcock at the helm the Blue Jackets have been playing blue-collar hockey and win games by out-working the opposition. If Rick Nash can be their best player and Steve Mason can continue his stellar goaltending Columbus might just squeak past the Wings.

As mentioned Detroit will be looking to capture back-to-back Stanley Cups for the first time since the 1997-98 season. They are loaded with offensive weapons and have the the world's best defenseman Nick Lidstrom anchoring the back-end.

Ultimately, if this series comes down to goaltending the Wings' chances just dropped. Chris Osgood has had a lacklustre season while backup Ty Conklin has been seldom used down the stretch. All eyes will be on Columbus rookie Steve Mason between the pipes.

Game One Winner: Detroit


Calgary (5) @ Chicago (4)

If this series plays out the way it did in the regular season it will be over before you can say Miikka Kiprusoff.

Kipper and the Flames lost all four meetings with the Blackhawks this season. Now they need to win four out of seven in order to make it to the second round.

Here's where I'm going to cheat a bit.

As you may have noticed—if you read my Day One Predictions—I chose offensive-powerhouse Washington to deliver some capital punishment to the Rangers. You may have also heard New York coach John Tortorella said publicly that he liked the thought of opening on the road because there's less pressure to steal one game as a visitor than it is to win two as the locals.

Mike Kennan will be echoing that statement and there will be no doubt his troops will be looking to silence a packed house at the United Center.

It won't come at an easy price, though. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and many others are anxious to experience their first taste of NHL playoff hockey.

Game One Winner: Calgary


Anaheim (8) @ San Jose (1)

Let me put on my "Captain Obvious" hat for a second.

San Jose was the NHL's best team in the regular season and have the President's Trophy to prove it. With a revamped defensive core, a talented group of forwards and one of the league's best goalies the Sharks will be looking to sink their teeth into their California rival.

There's only one problem: Since the trade deadline the Ducks have been on fire and finished the season with a 10-2-1 run. And with the return of blueliner François Beauchemin the Ducks have as much—if not more—defensive depth than their counterpart.

After having many successful regular seasons Joe Thornton and his teammates will be under the microscope once again to see if they are up to the task. If the Sharks falter in this series they may go down as the best team on paper never to win the Stanley Cup.

One thing is for sure—this will be a gruelling series. Don't be surprised to see it go the distance.

Game One Winner: San Jose


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