Bruins in 7
The Boston Bruins road to the Stanley Cup may be facing its biggest challenge in the Montreal Canadiens, who have long been their nemesis. This will be the 34th time the two teams have faced off in the postseason, with the Canadiens holding a 24-9 edge, with eight series going to a seventh game including the most recent matchup in 2011 won by the Bruins. Both teams have solid defenses and solid goaltending, and had relatively easy first round wins. In the regular season the Canadiens won three of four meetings including one in a shootout. A key for the Canadiens will be to take one in Boston and hold the series edge as it is more than likely both teams will win on each other’s ice. In the end the difference will be who can avoid the costly penalties and who can score the big goals. The Bruins should get the edge their thanks to players like Patrice Bergeron and Jarome Iginla. The Bruins have been through many playoff battles over the last four years and know what it takes to win tough series, and that is how this once will be decided as the series will go seven games with the Bruins finding away to survive in what should be thrilling series.
Kings in 6
A matchup 20 years in the making sees a Freeway battle between L.A. and the O.C. see the Ducks in Kings play in the playoffs for the first time. The Ducks would not even exist if not for the Kings bringing Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles in 1988 the Ducks came into the league five years later. Both teams have won Stanley Cups with the Ducks winning in 2007 and the Kings in 2012. Both teams had tough first round battles with the Ducks fighting off a pesky Stars team with a come from behind overtime win in Game 6, while the Kings came back from the dead after trailing 3-0 to beat the Sharks in seven games. The Ducks dominated the regular season meetings, winning four straight after losing the first meeting of the season. However, the Kings are a team built to win in the postseason as they have the clear edge in defense and goaltending led by Jonathan Quick. They also have the emotional edge after already knocking off one California rival. The Kings have also found their offense with deadline pick up Marian Gaborik scoring three goals, while Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams have found a knack of scoring the big goal at the right time.
Rangers in 7
One thing that has been perplexing about the Rangers in the playoffs in recent years is their inability to find the killer instinct as they have lost 12 straight games after taking a one game lead, dating back to 2009. Nonetheless they have been successful thanks to Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, winning four seventh games over the last three seasons including their opening round matchup with the Flyers. In the regular season, the two Metropolitan Division rivals split four games, with each winning one in a shootout. The home team won all four games in the regular season, which would tend to give the edge to the Penguins. However, the Penguins still have a big concern between the pipes as the space between Marc-Andre Fleury’s ears is the Penguins Achilles’ Heel. The Penguins will need a big series from Sidney Crosby and Edgeni Malkin to win, as both Martin St. Louis and Brad Richard had solid first rounds against the Flyers. If the Rangers can get some scoring and Fluery allows a few soft goals the Penguins will be in trouble and when is the last time Fluery did not allow soft goals in the playoffs?
Blackhawks in 5
The Minnesota Wild scored perhaps the biggest upset in the first round, knocking off the Central Division Champion Avalanche with an overtime win in Game 7. The Blackhawks also saw plenty of extra time, as four of the first five games against the Blues went into overtime. The Blackhawks lost the first two games in St. Louis and then rallied to win the next four games as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane who missed the end of the regular season began to find their legs and now have the defending champions poised for another run at Lord Stanley. The Wild took advantage of the Avalanche inexperience as the talented young team were unable to put away the Wild. One factor that helped Minnesota was the play of Goalie Darcy Kuemper who took over in Game 3 against the Avs. However, in Game 7 he left with an inury, and while they managed to rally and win the game it is hard to imagine that Ilya Bryzgalov could hold off the power of the Blackhawks offense. Despite the Wild winning three of five regular season games the Blackhawks should get a big edge and win the series easily.