2009 NHL Playoffs: Second Round Preview

Matthew Hogan@MattNHLHoganAnalyst IApril 29, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 26: (L-R) Alexaner Semin #28,  Alex Ovechkin #8, Nicklas Backstrom #19 and Mike Green #52 of the Washington Capitals celebrate their goal at 16:44 of the second period against the New York Rangers during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 26, 2009 in New York, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The first round wasn't bad, but the second round is sure to be better with some of these match-ups.

Look for a few more overtime games and hopefully a double-overtime game with a few of these teams.

Okay folks, with no further ado, here's the second round preview. Feel free to leave comments on what you think will happen.

Western Conference

(2) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Anaheim Ducks

A rematch of the 2006-07 Western Conference Finals, in which Anaheim defeated Detroit 4-2 and went on to win the Stanley Cup. Detroit blew past Columbus in the first round and rookie goalie Steve Mason was no match for veteran Chris Osgood.

As expected, Osgood brought his ‘A’ game to the playoffs again. He finished the first round with a .936 save percentage and a 1.75 goals-against average.

Meanwhile, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen picked up right where they left off in last year’s playoffs, combining for 10 points against Columbus.

The Ducks have just come off eliminating the league’s “best” team in the San Jose Sharks in six games, and goalie Jonas Hiller is on fire. Hiller came out of the first round with a .957 save percentage, a 1.65 goals-against average, and two shutouts.

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Ryan Getzlaf stepped up with eight points the first round. Calder Trophy-nominee Bobby Ryan also had a big first round with four goals—including one game-winner.

Regardless of how well any team might be doing, never underestimate the Red Wings in the playoffs.

Prediction: Detroit 4-2

(3) Vancouver Canucks Vs. (4) Chicago Blackhawks

Roberto Luongo stopped 126 of 131 shots in Vancouver’s first-round sweep of the St. Louis Blues. He will need to be equally as good in the second round if the Canucks want to defeat Chicago’s high-powered offense.

The problem with Vancouver is that they had 13 of their 30 points come from just three players, and they averaged under three goals per game as a team. If Chicago can shut down the Sedin twins, this might be a short series.

Chicago ran through a very tough and seasoned Calgary Flames team. Nikolai Khabibulin was good and got the job done in the first round. In the four wins, Khabibulin looked unstoppable—in the two losses, well, not so much. He peaked in the series-clinching game six where he stopped 43 of 44 shots.

The Canucks have just three players with at least four points, whereas the Blackhawks have nine. Forget that Chicago has played two more games—their offense appears to be unstoppable. Not too mention their leading scorer is rookie-of-the-year-nominee Kris Versteeg.

Overall, Chicago has way too many weapons to stop.

Prediction: Chicago 4-2

Eastern Conference

(1) Boston Bruins Vs. (8) Carolina Hurricanes

The Boston Bruins more or less haven’t played since the end of the regular season because they were barely tested in the first round. Vezina Trophy-nominee Tim Thomas was in great form stopping 105 of 111 shots.

But it was not Thomas who had everyone buzzing—it was Michael Ryder and the Boston offense, which torched Montreal for 17 goals in just four games. Ryder lit his former team up for four goals and seven points in total. Phil Kessel also continued his hot streak into the postseason, scoring four goals.

Many people felt that the Hurricanes should have lost in the first round, but it’s the final score that counts, even if that score is reached with 0.2 second left. Cam Ward stopped the most shots of any goalie in the first round with 227 saves, and out-dueled arguably the best goalie of all time in Martin Brodeur.

Devil-killer Jussi Jokinen burned the Devils in Game Four, scoring a goal with 0.2 seconds remaining for the win.  Then in Game Seven, he scored with just over a minute left to tie the game at three, only to have the Hurricanes win it with 30 seconds left.

Eric Staal also scored five goals in the series to lead the NHL in goals through the first round.

Boston’s overwhelming two-way play will control the series.

Prediction: Boston 4-1

(2) Washington Capitals Vs. (4) Pittsburgh Penguins

The Caps overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Rangers in the first round, and their task will not get any easier from here on out. The biggest player for Washington in the series is going to have to be—drum roll, please—Simeon Varlamov. Shame on most of you for thinking Alex Ovechkin.

Varlamov stole the series for the Capitals in the first round, and will have to be on the top of his game against Malkin and co. The Caps’ big guns of Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green combined for 27 points against the Rangers, and will have to do even better against the Pens.

The Penguins looked as if they might blow their lead to the Flyers, but managed to rally in Game Six to win the series. Marc-Andre Fleury was good, but he could have been better. He was inconsistent and he was slower with his glove than normal. When he faltered, so did the Penguins.

Evgeni Malkin was more noticeable on the ice over Sidney Crosby, but both combined for 17 points. However, they only combined for five points in the final three games of the series.

If the Penguins want to beat Ovechkin and the Caps, they are going to have to be consistent throughout the entire series.

Washington looks like they may have worked out most of the kinks against New York.

Prediction: Washington 4-3