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Round Two Intrigue

April 29, 2010 by Big Tony 

habs down caps Round Two Intrigue
An incredibly entertaining first round that resulted in the Eastern Conference turning upside down and the west saw series domination by no one but resulting in a mostly chalk second round. Kudos to the performances put forth by the Phoenix Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and L.A. Kings who performed more than admirably in each team’s first playoff appearance in many years. The L.A. Kings and Colorado Avalanche showed they will be a viable team for quite a while as each young group of players will only learn from this experience and continue to get better and better. Seven of the eight series went at least six games which means round two has got an awful lot to live up to.

Now that round one is in the books we look forward to the round two match-ups:

Eastern Conference

4. Pittsburgh vs. 8. Montreal

The Canadiens did what most thought was impossible once the series got to a 3-1 Washington advantage. It was thought that the Caps were vulnerable for an upset but not in the way that Montreal ultimately pulled off the upset…with defense. Washington couldn’t score and conventional wisdom tells you that if Montreal can shut down Washington then certainly they will be able to do the same thing to Pittsburgh… right? Not likely. First off the Canadiens relied much too heavily on Jaroslav Halak to be just about perfect. Halak may have a few more games in him like that but he cannot play that way night in and night out the rest of the way. Furthermore, the Penguins are a much more physical team than Washington and as a result can wear you down much more effectively than the Caps could. There is also the ever present intangible the Penguins have and that is their experience. Washington was unsure of whether they could win when things got bad, but Pittsburgh does not have that doubt in them because they know (after coming back from 2-0 twice last season  and a 5-0 loss in game 5 to the Red Wings in the finals) they have the ability to beat anybody at any time no matter what the circumstances. While Montreal will prove to be a tough opponent for Pittsburgh it’s unlikely that Crosby and company will be ousted by a tenacious Habs squad. Pittsburgh will move on.

6. Boston vs. 7. Philadelphia

This may be the most entertaining match-up in this round on paper. Both teams play a very physical game so a lot of big hits will be traded. Aside from that however the Flyers have the advantage. While both teams relied on secondary scoring to advance to round 2 the Flyers have much better primary scoring options. It’s unlikely that Carter, Briere, and the rest will be held in check this time around. Boston showed an inability to score (nothing like the team I thought they would be when I picked them to win the east preseason) over the course of the season and that probably won’t change. For that reason I’m taking Philly.

Western Conference:

1. San Jose vs. 5. Detroit

Congrats to San Jose for finally fighting those first round demons and advancing to round 2 for the first time in what seems like forever. Lucky for San Jose they managed to advance without much scoring from their big three (Marleau, Heatley, and Thorton). They will definitely need that to change if they want any hope of besting the Red Wings. Once again we can talk about x’s and o’s all night long but when it comes down to it I just can’t pick against Detroit. Every year it seems like they are ripe for the picking by an up and coming western conference team and Detroit always proves everyone wrong.  Therefore I am picking Detroit to pick off San Jose.

2. Chicago vs. 3. Vancouver

Both teams escaped what look like would be first round upsets by third period comebacks. Lucky for us they did because last year’s battle in the same round between the two teams was must see TV and this year will likely be even better. Both teams are great up front with Kane and company for Chicago and the Sedin twins and crew for Vancouver. There will be offensive chances galore for both teams, so what do you look to in a match-up like that? Goal tending of course. To be frank, Chicago’s netminding has been awful so they are already at a disadvantage in that category; now add in the fact that they’ll be battling Roberto Luongo on the other end and it’s even more trouble for the Hawks. However, last year they were able to get to Luongo and they can certainly do that again this year. All the Hawks need out of their goaltender is to play adequately and they’ll handle the rest. I picked Chicago to win the whole thing at the beginning of the year and I won’t back down now… Chicago wins.

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