Bruins in 5
Against the Devils the Hurricanes had several match up advantages on the ice, and in the end pulled it out an evenly matched series in seven games. Against the Bruins, those advantages do not exist. While Cam Ward is an excellent playoff performer, with one Conn Smythe in his pack pocket, and has a great future ahead of him, the Bruins Tim Thomas has been the best goalie all season. In addition the Bruins defense is stellar, and tough to break, and the Hurricanes did not break it all season losing all four match ups. Look for the Bruins to continue to roll as they reach the Conference Finals for the first time in 17 years.
Red Wings in 5
The last two Stanley Cup Champions meet in an unexpected battle in the second round. The Wings are not a surprise as they again were among the best teams in the NHL, while the #8 seed Ducks stunned the President Trophy Winning Sharks. I don’t see the Ducks going much further, as the Wings are a team with a long track record of postseason success. The Ducks do have the valuable goalie advantage with Jonas Hiller, who frustrated the Sharks establishing himself as the new star in Anaheim, but everywhere else the Wings are superior, even at defense where the Ducks best players Chris Pronger and Scott Neidermayer are coming off seasons that are not up to their usual standards. Look for this one to be over fast as Detroit reaches the Conference Finals again.
Penguins in 6
The NHL must be salivating over this one in that it’s two young marquee stars facing off in the second round. While Alex Ovechkin so far has shined brighter with a Hart Trophy last season and possible Hart Trophy coming again this season, after leading the league in goals Crosby and the Penguins are the team with the momentum. No to mention the Penguins have another young star Evgeni Malkin who arose out of Crosby’s shadow to win the scoring title, and is also a strong candidate for the Hart. While the Caps had the better season the Penguins had the stronger finish and could be rolling their way to the Finals again, as they have been firing on all cylinders since Dan Bylsma took over as their head coach.
Canucks in 6
The Blackhawks are back, and with Jonathan Toewes and Patrick Kane, they will be here for years to come. Talent wise the Blackhawks may have the advantage if this series took place two years from now, but the Canucks are the now team, who was one of the best teams in the NHL after the All-Star Break and with Roberto Luongo looking strong this could be there best and perhaps only shot to win the Stanley Cup, as Mats Sundin is just there on a one year contract, while the Sedin Twins are each approaching free agency. Look for that hunger of the Canucks veterans to be the deciding factor as they take the young Hawks to school.