And then there were two left in the West.
An Original Six matchup featuring an experienced Red Wings team who want to be repeat champs and a young Chicago team that has the hunger to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
After an easy first round sweep of Columbus, Detroit was shown that they can be forced into a game seven situation (although they were facing the '06/'07 Cup Champions.) Will winning that high pressure game put that fire in their bellies?
Will they be more determined to end the Hawks as quickly as they can so that they aren’t put on the brink of elimination for the second time?
Listen, we all know that Detroit is a very skilled team (they have 22 guys who all have at least one ring, some with as many as four). I don’t think that they are nervous going into this series with the Hawks, but I think being put into that game seven situation and facing their elimination might have actually brought them closer together as a team.
Everyone knew that this years Hawks team was good, but how many thought they were this good? A lot of people thought that they should be able to beat the Flames, but when the Flames had that little comeback everyone jumped off the Hawks bandwagon.
Everyone knew that they had more offensive firepower then the Canucks, but the Canucks had Luongo who was playing like a beast. And like the Blues, Chicago would fall to the Canucks all-star goalie.
This is a team that is defying the odds and breaking the misconceptions. They're too small, too young, and how is their back end? But this team is very close nit (a young Detroit type) and it's not like they are winning by wearing their hearts on their sleeves. They have the skill behind them too.
Although (and I’m not taking anything away from the Canucks or Flames offense) I don’t think the Hawks have played a team with as much scoring power as the Wings. It’s going to be up to the Hawk defense to shut the Wings forwards down, and NOT giving up the breakaway chances.
With all said and done, I honestly think that this is going to be a great match up and am going to be watching until the clock clicks zero.
My Pick: Detroit in Seven
The battle for the Prince of Wales trophy, again goes through Pittsburgh, for a second straight year.
The Carolina Hurricanes have played the maximum amount of games possible so far these playoffs, forcing game sevens in their first two series’ against New Jersey and Boston. The Canes come in as one of the most experienced teams in the NHL.
The majority of their team are Stanley Cup winners and the goalie is a Conn Smythe Winner in Cam Ward.
The Pens are looking for their second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final, and they have beaten two very formidable opponents thus far.
Carolina doesn’t have the offense that Philadelphia or Washington had, however the Canes goal tending is probably the best the Pens will have seen in the playoffs regardless of what happens.
That said, the Canes probably haven’t seen a offense thus far as potent as the Penguins. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are one and three respectively in the NHL Playoff Scoring race. They will have to continue that pace to be able to get past the Canes.
This should be a great series and the key match up will be in net. If Marc-Andre Fleury can match what Cam Ward does, this series will go to the Pens. If Fleury falters, like he did some in the Washington series, the Canes will advance to the Finals.
Hidden stat: Sidney Crosby has 12 goals this post season, while the leading scorer for Carolina has only 13 points
The Pick: Penguins in Six
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