Dream Match-Up Highlights Round Two
April 28, 2009 by Big Tony
Round one could not have gone out on a better note with two game seven’s (Devils-Hurricanes and Caps-Rangers) that did not disappoint in drama and excitement. I couldn’t possibly say anything to sum the two games that are surely both instant classics; as a result we’ll just turn to round two now that we know the match-ups. So far the sportsroids predictions have yielded a 4-4 record which I’ll be looking to improve upon in round two.
1. Boston Bruins vs. 6. Carolina Hurricanes
The Bruins breezed through the first round sweeping the hated rival Canadiens right out of the playoffs. Despite picking Montreal to win (in the interest of not flip-flopping from my preseason Eastern Conference Champ) I had serious doubts about their performance down the stretch and how they would fair in the playoffs and sure enough they laid an egg. Although Boston swept the series the lame duck Canadiens probably would have made any team look like juggernauts. Nevertheless, the Bruins are very well rested and do have a lot of fire power, enough to have swept the season series from the Hurricanes anyway (not to mention the top seed in the East). So far Tim Thomas has continued his stellar play despite the doubts surrounding his style of play and his lack of consistent success in his career before this year. In front of Thomas are the likes of Zdano Chara who has been unbelievable for the Bruins all year and it continued in round one. Pair Chara’s dominance at the blue line with a very strong core of forwards and the Bruins have all the makings of what could be a very special playoff run.
Opposite the Bruins are the Carolina Hurricanes who are very much a different team today from the one Boston saw in the regular season. Ryan Whitney, Chad LaRose, and Eric Staal have played incredibly well thus far in the post-season each with at least five points against the best goalie in the game today in Martin Brodeur. The Canes also have a world class netminer of their own in Cam Ward who came up huge for them all season and certainly in the playoffs keeping them in game seven in particular. This team has a lot going for it on the ice with their talent but also their experience with key members from their Stanley Cup winning team of a few years ago still around. So what can we expect from this series? Well the goaltending for both will most likely be stellar but beyond that the comparisons end. Boston is more of a big bruiser type club that loves to slug it out and play a hard hitting, defensive type game. Whereas the Canes are a smaller, quicker club who will generate a lot of offense and as a result rely heavily on Ward defensively. Carolina is on an emotional high at the moment by they just finished a grueling back-and-forth seven games with New Jersey. The Canes experience will keep them in the series but the Bruins will simply out class the Canes and send them packing in six.
3. Washington Capitals vs. 4. Pittsburgh Penguins
From one rivalry to another for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they plan to travel to Washington not long after deposing of the much hated Philadelphia Flyers in six. This is certainly the dream match-up for hardcore and casual hockey fans alike with both teams possessing an enormous amount of talent—namely Malkin and Crosby for Pittsburgh and Ovechkin and Semin for Washington among many others for both. So what can we expect from this series? Well the Caps took the season series from the Penguins 3-1 but three of the four contests were very close and filled with lots of intensity. The spotlight will certainly be on the Ovechkin/Crosby rivalry but those two alone will not determine the series. Both teams are going to need to get a lot out of their third and fourth lines as well as goaltenders. The top players for both teams will in all likelihood neutralize one another as they match up pretty well player for player both up front and on the blueline. So we turn to the third liners and it’s the Penguins who have the advantage in that regard as they are the deeper team by far. Guys like Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Staal create a lot of energy for the Penguins as third liners and have been known to generate a lot of offensive zone action and that Caps simply don’t have an answer for them. Washington had the advantage in the “toughness”category before Donald Brashear was suspended for six games and will not be able to play for Washington until game six of this series if there is one. There will certainly be a lot of up and down play in this series with a lot of passion coming from both teams and their fans. The buildings will be rocking, the media will be buzzing, and the tension/excitement amongst all parties involved should make this one of the best series of the playoffs. In the end the Penguins depth advantage will lead them to a six game series victory over the high flying Capitals.
Tune in next time (Thursday) for a preview of the Western Conference Semis.