Friday, May 15, 2009

On to the Conference Finals

I batted .500 in my second round predictions, with the Bruins and Roberto Luongo letting me down. But at least the two teams I got right are the two I picked to make the Stanley Cup final, which makes my third round predictions a little easier to make. Here goes:

Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (6)
The Hurricanes proved they were for real by ousting the Bruins, despite blowing a 3-1 series lead and being pushed to a seventh game. The Penguins weren't able to contain Alex Ovechkin in the second round and I don't see them being able to do it to Eric Staal, who won't have Zdeno Chara to contend with on every shift anymore. But the Penguins have firepower to burn and I believe they should be able to get to Cam Ward by bombarding him with pucks. As great as Ward was against the Bruins, he only faced 28.4 shots per game and gave up 17 goals, a save percentage of .915. That's pretty good, but far from dominant. I think the Pens will be far more dangerous offensively than that, and that should be the difference in what promises to be a fast-skating, entertaining series.

Pick: Penguins in 6

Detroit Red Wings (2) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (4)
After getting their top three superstars facing off in the same series in round two, the NHL now gets a match-up of two Original Six franchises in markets with nationwide appeal in the U.S. If either of these teams faces the Penguins in the Stanley Cup final, the league might actually get some decent ratings, assuming the series is on network TV, of course (NBC will broadcast Games 1 and 2 of the Cup final, Versus will have Games 3 and 4 while NBC will do the rest, if necessary. The stupidity of that would be best discussed another day). Anyhow, I haven't been giving the 'Hawks much credit thus far because of their youth, and I'm going to continue that trend here. The Wings are too battle-tested, too familiar with this stage and too talented to lose this series. The 'Hawks have opened my eyes with the way they handled a pretty good Canucks team, but this is the Red Wings we're talking about here, a team with 44 Cup rings on the roster. The Blackhawks have three.

Pick: Red Wings in 6


Sliver24 said...

I like your picks but I'd tweak the numbers a little. I'm calling the Pens in seven and the Wings in five.

That being said, I'm rooting for the Hawks to go all the way. I like the team and as an added bonus it would make the Leafs' drought the longest in the NHL. Salt in the wounds baby!

The Luongo-related ruckus in Van City shows me that we Montrealers aren't the only emotional, unreasonable fans in Canada.

I have a perfect solution for everyone involved: Luongo for Price, straight up.

Get on the horn Bob.

jkr said...

Disagree about the Canes. Ward is better than Fleury & his actual stats don't tell the whole story. The guy has come up huge & has proven himself in big game situations - I think he is now 4-0 in game 7 situations. I didn't expect them to get past Boston but I can see them beating Pittsburgh in a long series.

Sliver, I like your thinking re: the Leafs Cup drought. Excellent reason to cheer for the Hawks.

Arjun said...

Hawks win. And beat the Pens in the finals. There's a weird destiny thing happening with the team. And with the city of Chicago. First Obama. Then the Hawks. But not the Cubs. Not ever. Because then there will be a tear in the space time continuum and we'll get sucked up into it and end up in another universe.

pierre said...

For me whenever the CH are out the Wings are in, I have adopted them in the late 90s when in those years they were able to ice a 5 men Russian squad on the ice and played a game that remended me much of what the great Red Army team of the 70s were able to do.

I love Detroit's puck-centric approach to the game, love their organization, their uniform and I am also big fan of Pavel Datsyuk.

Detroit is an intelligent, mature team that can play any style anytime while always out-shoting any opponents in the process.... I cant see any team stopping them unless they can get an extraordinary performance from their goaltender in a 7 game series.