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