Tuesday, April 24, 2007

NHL Playoffs - Round 2 Previews and Predictions

1-1 last night, thanks to Vancouver's 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars my first round predictions were respectable at 7 for 8. The lone miscall was in the Nashville vs San Jose series. Several times I mentioned that whichever team wins that series will win the West division. Looks like it will be San Jose instead of Nashville. Ah well, 7 of 8 is pretty good.


Eastern Conference Matchups:

(1) vs (6) : The Buffalo Sabres can play 4 scoring lines against the Rangers 1 and a half. The Rangers top line of Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka and Michael Nylander can cause some problems but other than Brendan Shanahan they don't have much depth up front. Their defense can be quite good and will give the Sabres fits, but the depth of Buffalo up front will win this series in the end. Assuming of course that Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist continue to play as well as they have so far this postseason. If either goalie falls off the face of the earth it changes the outcome in this series. On April 10th I said Sabres in 5 games, I will have to change that prediction to Sabres in 6, Lundqvist has been more solid than I expected.

(2) vs (4) : The New Jersey Devils have Martin Brodeur. Enough said? The Senators have some decent depth at forward and an okay defensive core, but this entire series rests on the shoulders of Ray Emery. If Emery can be a steady presence in between the pipes then the Senators have a chance to steal this series. On the other hand, if Martin Brodeur plays like... well like Martin Brodeur the Devils win this one hands down. Back on April 10th I said Devils in 6 games over the Sens, I stick by that prediction, unless Brodeur proves human in round 2.

Western Conference Matchups:

(1) vs (5) : The San Jose Sharks were my one miscall in round 1, they destroyed the Nashville Predators in 5 games and look to be one fearsome playoff team. The good news is that I also stated that the winner of the Preds vs Sharks series would also win the Western Conference. I'll stick by that prediction even though the Red Wings made a strong statement in round 1 against Calgary. The Sharks are big, strong and can roll two top scoring lines and the play of Evgeni Nabokov in round 1 makes them the team to beat in this series. Dominik Hasek was strong against Calgary but he is always a tweaked groin away from being a non-factor. On April 10th I predicted that the Predators would beat the Red Wings in 7 games. I'll stick with that prediction but substitute the Sharks. San Jose in 7 over Detroit.

(2) vs (3) : As expected the Ducks beat Minnesota. What was not expected was how quickly they would do it. The Wild tried to intimidate the Ducks and it simply did not work. Vancouver went to 7 games with Dallas and looked lucky at times to win the series. I don't expect them to hang around very long against Anaheim. On April 10th I predicted the Ducks in 7 games, I'll have to update that to the Ducks in 6. Vancouver's scoring issues are worse than I thought they would be.

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