And it’s one down, two to go to the Stanley Cup Finals. I managed to get most of the winners right, although not the end results of the series. And that’s what’s so cool about NHL playoffs: sometimes rather unexpected things happen.
It’s not an accident that among all four major sports, it’s in hockey that you get most of the 3-0 to 3-4 comebacks. Hoping that we continue to get all this excitement, let’s try to predict the Conference semis.
Montreal Canadiens vs Tampa Bay Lightning: It’s not easy to beat a team like the Detroit Red Wings come playoff time. And that’s just what Tampa Bay did. And they managed to comeback from a 0-2 deficit. I’m actually rather proud that I got the end result of that series right (it was just that one and the Anaheim/Winnipeg that I got the winner and the end result right). Anyway, now the Lightning will face and even more difficult challenge. They’ll have to face the best team in the East. Not only that, they’ll have to face Carey Price, probably the best goalie in the league, a defense with P.K. Subban and a striker like Max Pacioretty. My guess is that it will be hard fought, but Montreal will prevail. Canadiens 4-1.
New York Rangers vs. Washingnton Capitals: Unlike what I had predicted the Rangers cruised past the Penguins in the first round. St.Louis, Zuccarello, Stepan and Nash are playing wonderfully and of course, if you have a goalie like Lunqvist at the back things are a lot easier. On the other side, the Capitals had a tough series against the Islanders, even a bit more though than what I predicted. But the double Russian threat of Ovechkin and Kuznetsov and their goalie Holtby managed to get things done, even starting 0-2 in the series. This one promises to be one of the best series of all playoffs and a rather difficult one to predict at that. The Rangers are on a roll and they do have a bitter taste in their mouths about last year’s defeat against the Kings in the Stanley Cup. I think the Caps didn’t play that good at the start of the series against the Islanders and that can be fatal against the Rangers. Rangers 4-2.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild: If you go back to my predictions for the first round, you’ll see that I predicted that both teams would lose. Even worse, I thought the Wild would lose in a big way to St.Louis. And not only they won they didn’t even need a game 7. I thought the Blackhawks would lose in a hard fought series because Nashville was playing great, they didn’t have home-ice advantage and, most important, Patrick Kane was out. How was I supposed to know that PK would have an unbelievably quick recovery? That changed everything. Add to that the fact that Chicago is a team that seems to thrive in the most decisive moments, that is, the playoffs. I think this one will also be hard fought but I’m tired of betting against Chicago in decisive games. Blackhawks 4-2.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames: If everything happens as planned (which never does in hockey), this one should be a no-brainer. As I expected the Ducks crushed the Jets and the Flames managed to overcome Vancouver with relative ease. However, I still think the difference between both teams is enormous. One might argue that Calgary got Johnny Hockey (probably NHL rookie of the year) but that’s not enough. The way I see it, the Ducks are heading for an unforgettable series against the Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals. Ducks 4-0.
I’m already feeling the anticipation for tonight. See you in the Conference Finals.
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