The Conference Quarters, better known as the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, are over. I was right on 6 of my 8 picks, missing out on Anaheim surpassing San Jose and the much ballyhooed miss of Chicago surviving against Calgary. If you forgot that I picked Calgary, just ask Heather or listen to my radio show.
#1 Boston def. #8 Montreal in 4 games (I picked Bruins in 6)
#2 Washington def. #7 N.Y. Rangers in 7 games (Yes, Caps in 7...we have a BINGO!)
#6 Carolina def. #3 New Jersey in 7 games (I did not want to be right on this one...I had Carolina in 6)
#4 Pittsburgh def. #5 Philadelphia in 6 games (I thought Crosby & Co. would win in 5)
#8 Anaheim def. #1 San Jose in 6 games (on the one hand, I'm upset I picked wrong, but, on the bright side, the Islanders earn the 26th overall pick (San Jose's pick) in the 2009 Draft in June)
#2 Detroit def. #7 Columbus in 4 games (Columbus, just happy to be here)
#3 Vancouver def. #6 St. Louis in 4 games (St. Louis, ibid.)
#4 Chicago def. #5 Calgary in, gulp, 6 games (I picked the right amount of games, wrong team...Toews looks at me disapprovingly as he helped carry me to the fantasy hockey league title a couple of weeks ago)
Well, now, it's on to the Second Round. Heather and I submitted our picks in a secret ballot. She listed them on her latest blog entry, but here are mine:
#1 Boston vs. #6 Carolina >>> BOSTON IN SIX
The fight for the championship of the old Adams Division and you can hear Brass Bonanza blaring out at the Mall in Hartford. I know the 'Canes have a Cup to their credit, but, for this series, I think I will call them the Whalers, just for old time's sake. Bruins beat Frank Pietrangelo, Kay Whitmore, Kevin Dineen, Geoff Sanderson, Zarley Zalapski, and Kelly Chase in six games. As the refs said in Slap Shot when the Hansons got into a full-scale brawl in the pre-game skate, the Bruins have "too much, too soon" for the Whalers.
#2 Washington vs. #4 Pittsburgh >>> WASHINGTON IN SEVEN
The old Patrick Division will be decided by the two most dynamic players in hockey today: Washington's Alexander Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. They each have a great second banana. Pittsburgh has "Geno" (Evgeny Malkin) and Washington has Alexander Semin. I think this will come down to home-ice advantage and Washington's Power Play finally busting out. Let's all hope that Dan Bylsma doesn't take the bait that Tortorella took in Game 5. Keep the water bottles on the bench!
#2 Detroit vs. #8 Anaheim >>> DETROIT IN FIVE
Detroit is the Big Red Machine of hockey and Anaheim will curiously bow out without much of a fight. Not that Anaheim will go soft, just that Detroit does not engage in the fisticuffs. According to HockeyFights.com, the Wings only have 11 fighting majors all season and five were by Darren McCarty, who was in Grand Rapids at last check. Detroit will skate around Anaheim and Jonas Hiller will not be able to stop the long line of world-class forwards coming his way.
#3 Vancouver vs. #4 Chicago >>> VANCOUVER IN SEVEN
Roberto Luongo put St. Louis away quickly in the First Round, but this round will be where Luongo starts to make a name for himself as an elite playoff goaltender. He needs to win this series and Vancouver can help him be stingy. Vancouver has some good grit in their lineup with Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler, and Alex Burrows and they will have to win the battles in the corners with Chicago's grit of Ben Eager, Adam Burish, and Matt Walker. But, in the end, if the Canucks win, it will come down to goaltending and I think it will. Chicago will have the home fans behind them, so I think it will go the distance.
Listen in to Sports With The StatMan, this Saturday night at 11pm ET, as we talk about the Second Round with Heather Yunger. To tune in, go to the show page at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/The-StatMan.