NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2nd Round Predictions

Posted: April 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

What a surprising, and uncharacteristic 1st round of NHL Playoff hockey. Offensive firepower proved to be no match for stellar defense and a hot goalie. High scoring offensive oriented teams like Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago, San Jose, Boston and Pittsburgh were ousted and looked terrible. Non traditional hockey markets such as Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Nashville have all moved on to the 2nd round with Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, Washington, and St. Louis. Before looking at the matchups in the 2nd round here’s how my picks did in the 1st Round: 4/8 PHI, NYR, NJ, and STL.      

Eastern Conference: Thoughts and predictions

(1) New York Rangers vs (7) Washington Capitals: The Rangers will face a Washington Capitals team that’s coming off a huge Game 7 win against the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. Caps goalie Braden Holtby was the main reason why Washington knocked off the Bruins. Even though the Rangers can’t match the scoring depth of the Bruins, Braden Holtby will still have to stand on his head if Washington is going to advance further. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, and Brooks Laich were kept in check for large portions of the Bruins and Capitals series. Washington’s best offensive player was Alex Semin. The grinders and hard-working forcheckers for Washington is what helped them prevail against the Bruins. The New York Rangers forwards looked disinterested against the Ottawa Senators. Marian Gaborik was on a milk carton after the first game of the series and still hasn’t been found. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was the MVP for New York. The Rangers struggled to score goals during the regular season and that happened in the first round as well. Expect to see lots of low scoring games with high blocked shot totals. Goaltending and defense will win this series and the Rangers have the clear edge. New York will have home ice advantage, and there is now way the Washington Capitals will skate into Madison Square Garden and win like they did at Boston’s TD Garden. Washington will be out of energy and the will to win after finishing off the Bruins. Prediction Rangers in 5 

(5) Philadelphia Flyers vs (6) New Jersey Devils: According to Map Quest the distance between Philadelphia and Newark is 1 hour and 41 minutes. Needless to say travel excuses for the losing team will not fly. These Atlantic Division rivals know each other well and that should result in a fantastic series. Don’t expect to see a fight filled series like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia showcased in the opening round. New Jersey is not a tough team and can’t match the physical play of the Flyers. Philadelphia will lean on heavily on Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Daniel Briere, and Jaromir Jagr to beat Devils Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur. Brodeur, who played well against Florida will face a whole new level of skill in the second round. Philadelphia scored 30 goals in 6 games against Pittsburgh. Brodeur will have everything but the kitchen sink thrown his way. New Jersey is not the same defensive team that Brodeur won 3 Stanley Cups with earlier in his career. New Jersey can score goals. Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, David Clarkson and rookie Adam Henrique will be counted on to fill the net against shaky Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov has the ability to be the best player on the Flyers or the worst. There is no in between for the Togliatti, Russia, native who frequently talks about being lost in the woods. Prediction – Flyers in 6

Western Conference: Thoughts and predictions

(2) St. Louis Blues vs (8) Los Angeles Kings: This series should be labelled which goalie will blink first. Both Brian Elliott and Jonathan Quick were instrumental in opening round victories over the San Jose Sharks, and Vancouver Canucks. Whichever goalie gives up the most amount of soft goals will find his team ousted from the playoffs. Both teams play a similar style of hard-hitting, forchecking, tough and physical hockey. This type of play is hard to keep up during the playoffs so it will be interesting to see what team can out hit the other. Los Angeles has a solid defense consisting of Willie Mitchell, Drew Doughty, Matt Greene, and Rob Scuderi. St. Louis has had difficulty scoring goals and will they’ll struggle if they can’t get shots through to Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick. The Kings did a great job of keeping the Vancouver Canucks shots to the outside. Vancouver  didn’t get many scoring opportunities to score and that’s what St. Louis will face. The Blues have home ice advantage but they won’t be facing a pushover like they faced in San Jose. The Blues will have to get contributions from all 4 of their lines. They can’t rely on one player to carry the team because they just don’t have that type of player. Los Angeles is on a roll and Coach Darryl Sutter has his team playing outstanding hockey at the perfect time of year. Prediction Kings in 7 

(3) Phoenix Coyotes vs (4) Nashville Predators: This will be the 2nd round series that has the worst television ratings. Phoenix and Nashville just don’t come to mind when you think of exciting playoff hockey. Mike Smith and Pekka Rinne are terrific goalies who can stop the puck like nobody can. Shooters for both teams will have little net to shoot at when barring down on goal. Nashville has more potential game breakers and scoring threats. Alexander Radulov, Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist, Martin Erat, David Legwand, and the Kostitsyn brothers can certainly dangle and score when needed. With a Nashville defense that consists of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Hal Gill and Francis Boullion, Phoenix will have a tough time just getting shots on net. The Coyotes series win over the much more experienced Chicago Blackhawks was a big surprise. Phoenix won 3 games in overtime because they struggled to keep the lead late in games. This will comeback to bite them in the 2nd round. The Coyotes are a nice story for a state that could care less about hockey but Nashville took out the storied Detroit Red Wings in the first round. Any team that does that is a serious Stanley Cup contender. When the Phoenix Coyotes get bounced from the playoffs in the 2nd round they won’t have to look far for a golf course to use. Prediction Predators in 6

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