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2011 NHL Playoffs: Second Round Picks

Bryan here with my second round picks.

Eastern Conference:

No. 1 Washington Capitals vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning

The Capitals seem to draw the “worst” match-ups for them. The Rangers were the team fans didn’t want to see in the first round and the Lightning wasn’t fans first choice for most favorable match-up in the second round. The Caps did go four and two against the Lightning during the regular season but both of the Caps losses were shutouts.

Tampa Bay showed a lot of heart coming back and beating Pittsburgh after being down 3-1 in the series. Center Steven Stamkos seems to have found his shot again and right winger Martin St. Louis continues to come up with big goals. In Game 5 The Lightning went four of seven on the power play against the Penguins. That lead to an 8-2 route that changed the series.

The Washington Capitals were able to close out their series in five games. The Rangers played them hard. But the Caps were able to find ways to win. Left winger Jason Chimera’s double overtime game winning goal in game four brought excitement to DC. The Capitals showed their killer instinct in game five and sent the Rangers packing. But The Caps have some big issues. Penalties cost the team game three and nearly cost them game four. The Caps were in the penalty box seven times in both games three and four. Compare that to a combined six times in the box for games one, two, and five. But despite the penalties in games three and four the Rangers only went two for fourteen on the power play and that’s a credit to how good the Capitals penalty kill has been all year.

The key for this series is whose stars show up bigger. The Caps should get defenseman Dennis Wideman back this series and there seems to be nothing wrong with fellow defenseman Mike Green, both of whom will be key on the power play. The Caps need better defensive play from the John Carlson and Karl Alzner pairing. The Caps also need center Nicklas Backstrom to be more involved offensively.

Prediction: Even though Stamkos and St. Louis are playing great and the Lightning are riding high after a great comeback against the Penguins, the Capitals will be well rested and healthy. Alex Semin and Mike Green had a great series against the Rangers and left winger Alex Ovechkin has yet to play his best hockey of the playoffs. Talent will win out.

Washington Capitals in Six.

No. 2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No 3 Boston Bruins

The Flyers have a huge problem. Their goaltending has disappeared. All three netminders, Sergei Bobrovsky, Michael Leighton, and Brian Boucher, were pulled at some point during their seven game series against the Sabres.  While the Flyers were impressive in their game seven victory they were shutout twice by Buffalo.  Their inconsistency in the series was on par with their play for the last month.

After dropping the first two games at home Boston managed to find their footing and take of Montreal in seven. Goalie Tom Thomas was stellar at times in net and right wingers Michael Ryder and Brad Marchand really picked up their play. But, the top line of left winger Milan Lucic, center David Krejci, and right winger Nathan Horton struggled all series. Horton’s series winning overtime goal aside the top line needs to be better if the Bruins are going to take down the Flyers

The key in this series is who will be better in goal. Boston’s Tim Thomas is clearly better then any of the Flyers three goaltending options and if the Bruins can score early and play shutdown defense, they’ll have a chance. The Flyers have a huge advantage offensively. If center Jeff Carter is healthy and left winger Scott Hartnell can find his shot, the Flyers will be tough to stop.

Prediction: The Flyers have been too hit or miss lately and with the situation in net being so unsettled I’m not willing to give them the nod. Tim Thomas is going to be key for a Bruins win in this series.

Boston Bruins in Seven
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2011 NHL Playoff Preview – Western Conference

Here are our Western Conference predictions.

No. 1 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks


Vancouver stormed out of the gate and never looked back.  This years President’s Trophy winners have drawn comparisons to last year’s Capitals team but that’s not any reason to look for an early exit for the Canucks. The Blackhawks might come into the playoffs as defending Stanley Cup Champions but they won’t repeat. Even though the Blackhawks core from last year is intact they weren’t able to replace the role players they lost in the offseason. A lack of consistency in net will hurt the Hawks and Vancouver’s offensive talent will overpower Chicago.

Prediction: Vancouver Canucks in four.


Headline Matchup: Vancouver’s Sheer Awesomeness vs. Chicago’s History against Vancouver

If I were a Canucks fan I would be of two minds right now. I would be dreading this series because the Blackhawks have bounced the Canucks from the postseason the last two years. However, I would be excited to finally take it to a team that had terrorized Vancouver for what seems like an eternity. I know President Cup winners have not fared well in the postseason recently (see Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks), but it is hard not to see the Canucks coming out on top. They lead the league in pretty much every offensive category and have two players in the top five for points, left winger Daniel Sedin and his brother center Henrik. They also have goalie Roberto Luongo, who has only been outdone this year by the probable Vezina trophy winner Tim Thomas.

Chicago is good but they are missing two key parts from their championship run last year. Those parts are defenseman Dustin Byfuglien who was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers and goalie Antti Niemi who is now a part of the San Jose Sharks. Without those two pieces it is hard to see a world where the Blackhawks succeed.

Ready for a bold pick?

Prediction: Vancouver Canucks in a sweep 4-0.

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