©MMXI Tank Productions. Predictions Made by Frank Fleming on April 28, 2011 at 12:05 am ET
Capitals in 6
The Lightning were circling the drain after four games against the Penguins, as they trailed their first round series 3-1. However, with a seven goal explosion in Game 5 they turned things around to win the series in seven games. On one hand they were fortunate in the Penguins were unable to find the finisher without Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Against the Capitals they won't be as fortunate as the Capitals are healthy and fresh off an impressive five game victory over the Rangers that featured a stirring Game 4 comeback and solid Goaltending from Michal Neuvirth. In his first playoff test Neuvirth was solid against the Rangers, though with Steven Stamkos Tampa has more firepower. However, the Caps face the Lightning six times in the regular season and won four times. The Caps also have plenty of firepower and a strong defense, the Lightning have won their first series since 2004 when they took the Stanley Cup they are a team on the rise, but Washington is a team for now and they need to at least make the next step to the Conference Finals to validate their season. They may have a few bumps along the way, but in the end Alex Ovechkin will be the difference as the Caps win in six games.
Sharks in 7
Last year the Sharks finally solved the Red Wings, winning in five games to reach the Western Conference Finals. Once again they faceoff with a trip to the Conference Finals on the line; last year the Wings needed seven games to get past the Coyotes, this year against the Coyotes again the Red Wings won in a four game sweep allowing them to rest their old and tired wheels. This series could go either way as the Red Wings despite their age still have the ability to take home a Stanley Cup. The Sharks also have that ability despite a history of playoff letdowns. This series should be a good one, as both teams are just about even on defense and in goal where it real counts this time of year. Being the series can be a long struggle could be the difference in the end as Game 7 will be in San Jose and for a team as old as Detroit the Sharks will be the last team standing in the best match up of the second round.
Canucks in 5
The panic button was pressed down hard as the entire Provence of British Columbia was on the verge of a stroke as the Canucks nearly coughed up a 3-0 series lead against the Blackhawks in the first round. In the end the President's Trophy winners prevailed on a goal by Alex Burrows in Game 7. In their battles with the Blackhawks Chelsea Dagger became the soundtrack for Vancouver's Nightmares. If the Predators get going the new sound will be Tim McGraw's "I Like It, I Love It." However, the Predators do not have enough firepower to make this a series. The Predators defense is strong, but in the end the Canucks have too many weapons as the Sedin Twins should be able to get going after their scare in round one. One stat of note that could be a good foreshadow for the Canucks, is every team that needed to win a Game 7 after leading 3-0 in a series went on to win the Stanley Cup. The scare in Chicago will only make them better in the end and this series will seem like a cake walk as they beat down the Predators in five games, with Roberto Luongo having a strong series.
Bruins in 6
Last year the Flyers trailed the Bruins 3-0 in the series before forcing a seventh game. In Game 7, the Bruins also led 3-0 before the Flyers rallied to win 4-3 becoming the third team in NHL history to win a series they trailed 0-3. Now comes round two. The Flyers are using the same formula that got them to the Stanley Cup Finals as they needed three different goalies to shake off the Sabres in seven games. The big question is how long can they do this and succeed? The Bruins also needed seven games in the first round to beat the Canadiens, but they come in healthier and in better position to win. Goaltending will be the difference in this series and there was no goalie better than the Bruins Tim Thomas who was solid in the first round as the Bruins won three overtime games. Look for more of the same in this series as they get a measure of revenge against the Flyers.