You asked for it, you got it: your round 2 preview and predictions! So far, Canuckz.com is 6 for 8 in our series predictions (who knew Washington would blow it and Boucher would go Bernie Parent on us?). We nailed the Canucks-Kings series (Canucks in six) and Pens-Sens series (Pens in six). Not bad, but we’re aiming higher this round.
(1) San Jose Sharks vs (5) Detroit Red Wings
The Matchup: It’s the most clutch team of the last ten years versus the biggest choke artists of the last ten years. The Red Wings are coming off a seven game series win over the Phoenix Coyotes while the San Jose Sharks got a bit of a scare against the Colorado Avalanche, winning in 6.
The Sharks got it done in round 1 with their secondary players. Joe Pavelski and Ryan Clowe lead the team in scoring, notching 8 points each. Meanwhile, their big three (Thornton, Marleau and Heatley) only put up one goal. Dan Boyle had a good series (apart from his faux-pas of course) and Evgeni Nabokov posted impressive numbers.
The Red Wings had an up and down series against the Coyotes. When they were good, they were very good. All of their wins were by 3 goals or more, but they also lost three games to the Coyotes. The Wings put up a lot of shots against the Yotes, but they also gave up a lot of shots. Jimmy Howard didn’t crumble under the pressure in his first playoff series, while their big guns (Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Franzen) were very good.
History: This is the fourth time the Red Wings and Sharks have met in a playoff series. The Wings won the last two, winning in six games in 2007 and in a sweep in 1995. The Sharks won a seven game series in 1994, in one of the biggest upsets in NHL history.
Keys to the Series: It’s no revelation, but the Sharks top players need to step up. Thornton, Marleau, Heatley, Boyle and Nabokov. If they’re good, they’ll win the series. They’re a better team on paper, but their stars haven’t been as clutch as Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Lidstrom and the boys.
Prediction: I refuse to believe in the Sharks until they prove themselves in the big game. If they win this series, they might go on to win the cup. But they won’t. Red Wings in 6.
(2) Chicago Blackhawks vs (3) Vancouver Canucks
Predictions on this series plus a full in depth analysis coming tomorrow! Stay tuned.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (8) Montreal Canadiens
The Matchup: The Penguins are coming off a six game series victory over the Sens, in which Sidney Crosby was unbelievable. The Habs, meanwhile, upset the mighty Capitals, almost single handedly by the brilliant goaltending of Jaroslav Halak.
The Habs penalty killing was amazing in round 1, keeping the Caps to one power play goal in 33 chances. Meanwhile, only the Canucks had a worse penalty killing percentage than the Penguins, who killed only 68.2% of the Senators power plays.
History: This is only the second time the Penguins and Canadiens have met in the playoffs. The Habs beat the Pens in six games in a 1998 first round series.
Keys to the Series: Jaroslav Halak must outplay Marc-Andre Fleury in this series. If he does, the Habs have a chance. The Pens will have to find a way to beat Halak, while the Habs will need to contain Crosby and Malkin.
Prediction: The Pens will get more traffic in front of Halak and find a way to beat him. The Habs’ power play will feast on the brutal PK of the Pens, but it won’t be enough. Penguins in 6.
(6) Boston Bruins vs (7) Philadelphia Flyers
The Matchup: It’s the Big Bad Bruins against the Broad Street Bullies. It’s also a rematch of this year’s Winter Classic. Boston beat Buffalo in six games while the Flyers shockingly upset the Devils in five.
Philadelphia has lots of injury troubles, losing Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne to long term injuries in round 1. Boston meanwhile is going to get their leading scorer, Marc Savard, back for game 1.
History: The Bruins and Flyers met four times in five years from 1974-1978, including a six game Stanley Cup final series won by the Flyers in 1974.
Keys to the Series: Brian Boucher will need to continue his hot streak in net, while the normally low scoring Bruins will need to continue to find ways to score goals. Special teams will also be important, as the Bruins have yet to surrender a power play goal.
Prediction: The loss of Carter and Gagne combined with the return of Savard will be the difference. Bruins in 6.