Thursday, April 29, 2010

2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference Semifinal Predictions

#8 Montreal defeats #1 Washington, 4 games to 3
The only Game 7 in the Eastern Conference proved to be the biggest upset in these playoffs.  The Canadiens became the first #8 team ever to come back from a 3-1 deficit in Stanley Cup Playoff history, providing a moment worthy of a 100th anniversary in season number 101.

#7 Philadelphia defeats #2 New Jersey, 4 games to 1
The Devils could not break through against Brian Boucher, which frustrated the team and led to a "resignation" by now former coach Jacques Lemaire.  The special teams told the story, as the Devils went 4-for-32 while the Flyers scored four more goals in one less opportunity with the man advantage (8-for-31).

#6 Boston defeats #3 Buffalo, 4 games to 2
In a series that got a little rough-and-tumble, the Bruins survived against the Sabres for the upset.  Tuukka Rask outplayed Ryan Miller when all was said and done in the series for Rask's first four career playoff victories.

#4 Pittsburgh defeats #5 Ottawa, 4 games to 2
Pittsburgh turned the corner against Ottawa, but Ottawa hung tough to force a Game Six.  But, once Pittsburgh netted seven against the Senators, the series definitely turned in the Penguins favor.

#1 San Jose defeats #8 Colorado, 4 games to 2
Colorado had a 2-1 lead after San Jose defenseman cleared a puck into his own net to give the Avalanche a 1-0 overtime win.  But, that was the last game the Avalanche won in the series and the Sharks outscored Colorado the rest of the way, 12-3.

#2 Chicago defeats #7 Nashville, 4 games to 2
Chicago goaltender Antti Niemi was a strength instead of a liability in the first round, shutting out Nashville twice.  Pekka Rinne also played well for the Predators, but their scorers came up a little short.

#3 Vancouver defeats #6 Los Angeles, 4 games to 2
The Kings had a good thing going, leading the series 2-1 after Game 3.  But, just like the Sharks-Avalanche series, the Canucks kicked it into high gear and won three in a row to send Los Angeles home for the summer.  Vancouver blitzed Los Angeles 17-8 in the final three games of the series.

#5 Detroit defeats #4 Phoenix, 4 games to 3
The only Game 7 in the Western Conference was not much of a matchup in the final game.  But, the series was point and counterpoint in the first six games with the Wings holding a 20-17 overall goal lead.  Detroit pulled away in Game 7, winning 6-1 and pushing the veteran playoff performers to the next round.

#4 Pittsburgh vs. #8 Montreal - PITTSBURGH in 6 games
Montreal outlasted Washington and that could make them stronger.  But, how can you expect Montreal to beat two top-end world-class teams in a row?  You can't.  Pens in six.

#6 Boston vs. #7 Philadelphia - BOSTON in 6 games
If Boston thought their first round series with Buffalo was tough, this one against Philadelphia will be even tougher.  The Bruins have Marc Savard back on the ice and the team is poised to continue its run.  Boston and Philadelphia both have hot goalies, but I am predicting that Brian Boucher will turn into a pumpkin first.  Bruins in six.

#1 San Jose vs. #5 Detroit - SAN JOSE in 6 games
The Sharks may have gotten over their playoff struggles, but it will take more than one series to shake that bad reputation.  The Red Wings have the playoff pedigree, but they are tired and their goalie, brilliant as he has been at times this season, is still a rookie.  The Wings still have a lot left in the tank, but the Sharks might be finding their game.  If the first line can click, the Sharks will win.  My pick: Sharks in six.

#2 Chicago vs. #3 Vancouver - CHICAGO in 7 games
This series is a rematch from last season, when Chicago upset Vancouver.  Chicago is the favorite this time around.  Olympic brethren will face off as Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith go up against gold medal teammate in Vancouver's Roberto Luongo.  This year, will it be a repeat or another upset?  I think this series will go the distance and I will go with the repeat.  Blackhawks in seven.

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