Penguins in 5
No matter whom the Penguins put in goal, Marc-Andre Fleury or Tomas Vokoun they must avoid the struggles of the first round against the Islanders. The Senators have a strong defense and a reliable Goalie in Craig Anderson. Though what the Islanders had in a strong young offense led by John Tavares, the Senators lack, meaning the Penguins have a definitive edge in shooters and goal scorers. During the regular season, the Penguins won all three meetings, with two of three games coming in Ottawa. That is where the key for the series will lie, as the Senators must control their home ice, because winning more than one game in Pittsburgh could be an impossible task. In the end the Penguins have too many weapons, and as long as they don’t have too many problems with Vokun or Fleury the Penguins should be the game easily.
Blackhawks in 6
With realignment this Original 6 match up will not happen again, unless they meet in the Stanley Cup Finals. An absolute shame and why the Wings should have stayed out west. The Red Wings are coming off a seven game war, while the Blackhawks beat the Wild with ease. In the regular season the Blackhawks won all four meetings, though three went to overtime. Overall the Blackhawks have the edge in talent and goaltending, but the Red Wings sometimes just find a way. While winning the series is unlikely for Detroit they will not go down without a fight. I could see the Red Wings stealing a game in Chicago and having the series even after four games. However, in the end it will be too much Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane as the Blackhawks win the series in six games.
Bruins in 7
These teams love playing in seventh games, as the Bruins have played in six Game 7s since 2010, while the Rangers have gone to Game 7 three of their last four series. Both teams are matched so seven again will be the magic number. The key will be who can score, because both teams have strong goaltending and offenses that at times go into a shell. The key for Boston will be Zdeno Chara because if he can dominate the blue line, the blue shirts could be in big trouble, while the Rangers will need a big series from either Brad Richards or Rick Nash. In their seven game win over the Capitals the Rangers did a great job winning all three games at MSG, they may need to do the same against the Bruins, because beating Boston at the TD Garden could be a difficult task. In the end its another Game 7 in Boston and the Bruins will win another overtime thriller.
Kings in 7
Many seasons the Sharks went into the playoffs as a favorite only to suffer a letdown. Coming of their first ever series sweep, some are wondering if this could be the year they make a run out of nowhere. However, against the reigning champions things will get much harder as Jonathan Quick and the Kings defense is back to shutting down the ice. Of course the Sharks net minder Antti Niemi has won a Stanley Cup and is a Vezina finalist. This means this could be a series in which goals are at a premium. In the regular season the Sharks and Kings split four games, and in this series I tend to think the same pattern will follow as this series has seven games written all over it. In the end the Kings winning a cup last year know how to win tight games and they know how to win games in overtime.