With a thrilling first round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs behind us, all focus turns to Round Two.
There were some close series, a few sweeps, and some Cinderellas.
Will there be a great series like there was in Round One?
Who will we see competing for a trip to the Finals in the next round?
All these questions and more will be answered with my predictions of the upcoming round two of the playoffs.
No.2 Detroit Red Wings vs. No. 8 Anaheim Ducks
This looks to be a great series for Round Two. This rivalry is between two teams with very different first rounds.
Detroit had nearly a practice round, blowing past first-time playoff participants Columbus in a sweep. Meanwhile Anaheim was a Cinderella team, beating out the President-Trophy-winning San Jose Sharks.
With two great offenses led by two young stars, goaltending will be key in this series—a position where neither team really has an edge. Osgood is shaky at times, while Hiller has very little experience in the NHL—let alone the playoffs.
At the end of the day, you have to give the slight edge in talent to Detroit, and they'll use that to blow past the Ducks in five.
Red Wings over Ducks, 4-1
No. 3 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 4 Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks have bad times and great times, and the first round was one of their better ones. The world picked Calgary to upset them, but Kane and Toews led their team and helped them win against adversity.
Vancouver hasn't really proved themselves in the playoffs this year. Although they won in a sweep, it was against a Blues team with little playoff experience or success. This is the series where Mats Sundin and the rest of the Canucks have to prove their contention for the Cup by beating a team much better than St. Louis.
A closely-seeded matchup, these two teams will be in an all-out dog fight to the finish and a right to play for a trip to the finals. Luongo will play well, but the young Chicago offense will be too much for him in pressure situations, winning the series for Chi-Town.
Blackhawks over Canucks, 4-2
No. 1 Boston Bruins vs. No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes
This should be a very interesting series as well. Carolina is coming off a tight series with New Jersey where they used there momentum to their advantage. On the other hand, Boston is coming off the exact opposite, blowing over an inexperienced Montreal team in four games.
Captains Chara and Brind'Amour should both be threats in this series, with each providing some great skill, intelligence, and leadership. The leading goal scorers for each team should make an impact (Staal and Savard), as well as the goalies trying to stop them (Thomas and Ward).
In the end, the edge is given to Boston, and they bring the Canes down to earth as they advance to the Conference finals.
Bruins over Hurricanes, 4-2
No. 2 Washington Capitals vs. No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins
Alex Ovechkin and the Caps were in deep trouble in Round One, as they were down 3-1 in their series with New York. They battled back, though, and won the series in a thrilling seven games, showing a lot about the whole team's will to win.
The Penguins proved the whole world wrong in Round One, as the defending Eastern champions showed they could still win in the playoffs despite losses of many players since last season.
This should be a great rivalry series, including a battle between Ovechkin and Crosby for the spotlight. The Capitals letting their stars shine, they eke past the Pens in seven games and move on to their toughest challenge yet: Boston.
Capitals over Penguins, 4-3