The first round of the NHL playoffs were incredible. The last seven days included 7 games ending in overtime. I was only off with 1 series in the first round, the Ducks over the Preds, but I’m feeling good and back on track. Even though the EA Sports simulation was 8 for 8 last round, I am going against their second round predictions and hoping to stay strong. This round will NOT let any hockey fan down and I’m excited to see how it all unfolds. Here are my picks:
Washington (1) vs. Tampa Bay (5) – Washington was strong and quick to finish off the Rangers last series and the Lightning took out the Penguins, which wasn’t an easy series. However, the Pens were without Crosby or Malkin in the line-up and didn’t get the support in net from Marc Andre Fleury that they needed. Washington looked great in the first round and I expect them to continue their push for a championship. While Tampa Bay had a great season behind Martin St. Louis (the MVP in my eyes), I will still take the Capitals in this series to win it in 6 games.
Philladelphia (2) vs. Boston (2) – If you try to compare these teams, you will see how similar they truly are, especially after their meeting in the second round last season. In the first round, Philly had their issues in net, but Tim Thomas has been solid for the Bruins, clearly giving them the edge in goaltending. When it comes to defense, it’s hard for me to go against the Flyers, especially with Pronger back. Then scoring goes to Philly as well. Boston was 0 for 21 on the Power Play in their series against Montreal, which is just pathetic. Boston will be playing for pride this year, after losing to the Flyers last season and being up 3 games to none. Regardless, the Flyers are too strong and should win this series in 7.
Vancouver (1) vs. Nashville (5) – The Canucks are the obvious choice in this series, but I believe it will be tougher than most people think. The Predators are playing great hockey, led by sound goaltending and superb defense. On the other end, Luongo has made some mistakes and Vancouver has shown the rest of the league they are more vulnerable than most thought. It’s very common for the top seeded team to be eliminated early, but I want to believe that the Canucks can make it happen this season. This is why I am sticking with them, despite their flaws in the first round. There is no doubt in my mind that this series will be close, but I’m taking Vancouver in 6.
San Jose (2) vs. Detroit (3) – What can I say about this series? Both teams looked great in the first round, the Red Wings taking out the Coyotes in 4 and the Sharks ousting the Kings in 6. Last season, the Sharks sent the Wings packing but something is telling me this year will be different. One of the greatest hockey franchise’ of all time, a team with years of experience and a coach who knows how to win when it counts. I’m not saying this series is over before it starts, but I know the Wings first round was no fluke. They’ve had plenty of time to rest and are fully prepared for the Sharks this year. The Red Wings will take this series in 6.