I guess I had a decent first round, hitting on six of eight first round winners, though I didn't get the number of games right in any of them. Whatever, I'll take it. I missed on the Blues upsetting the Canucks (couldn't have been more wrong on that one) and I took the Sharks over the Ducks in seven games.
At least my two Cup finalists are still alive as the Wings and Pens made it look pretty easy in the first round.
So, here goes round two:
Boston Bruins (1) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (6)
The Hurricanes are a popular pick for the upset here, and I understand the logic. Most of the Bruins have never been to the second round of the playoffs and they couldn't have had a much easier time getting out of the first round this year. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, beat a very tough opponent in a seventh game on enemy turf, and much of the roster has Stanley Cup-winning experience. But despite all that, I think the Bruins depth, toughness and talent will win out here. Eric Staal scored five goals in the seven games against the Devils, but I have trouble seeing him do the same thing with Zdeno Chara stalking him all series long. If the Bruins play as disciplined against the 'Canes as they did against the Habs, I think this should be relatively easy.
Pick: Bruins in 5
Washington Capitals (2) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (4)
Yeah, yeah, Sid the Kid and Gino against Alex the Great, the NHL's wet dream come true. Personally, I think the offensive firepower cancels each other out pretty evenly among the two teams. Match up Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Semin, Chris Kunitz and Nicklas Backstrom, Sergei Gonchar and Mike Green, Bill Guerin and Viktor Kozlov etc... There's not much of an advantage to either side that I can see, but it should make for some pretty exciting hockey. The difference, in my eyes, will be in goal, and for my money I'll take Marc-Andre Fleury over Simeon Varlamov any day. Not to take anything away from what Varlamov accomplished, but a lot of goalies have looked pretty brilliant against the Rangers this year. Facing the Penguins firepower is a whole other can of worms. Throw in Pittsburgh's playoff experience, and I think they have a decided edge.
Pick: Penguins in 6
Detroit Red Wings (2) vs. Anaheim Ducks (8)
Granted, the Ducks are not your average eight seed and should give the Wings everything they can handle in this matchup. But Detroit is like a chameleon because Mike Babcock can adapt his team's game to basically any style of play and still come out on top. Everyone knows what the Ducks will throw at you: big bodies looking to take your head off. That definitely bothered the Sharks, but it won't rattle the Wings. The only wildcard here is Chris Osgood getting outplayed by Jonas Hiller, who essentially stole that series against the Sharks. Does Hiller have another theft in him? I doubt it.
Pick: Red Wings in 7
Vancouver Canucks (3) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (5)
This is the toughest call of the four second matchups, but even though I picked the Canucks to lose in the first round, I'm big enough to admit when I was wrong. With Roberto Luongo as an anchor, the Canucks should win a long, back-and-forth series on home ice in a seventh game, and I'll even go so far as to say it will be decided in overtime. I love the Blackhawks makeup and was really impressed with how their young forwards bullied the Calgary Flames, essentially beating them at their own game. Dustin Byfuglien, Adam Burish, Ben Eager and Troy Brouwer were the most important guys in that series, but the Canucks have a deep and, most importantly, healthy defence after getting a week to rest up while the 'Hawks were battling Calgary. I think that might give Vancouver the edge in the end.
Pick: Canucks in 7