Philly Reign Staff
Oh, hey. It's time for round two. And who better to base your picks on than a bunch of guys who don't get paid to do this, eh? In any case, I kept score from the last series' (although I wish I hadn't). Here's the breakdown:
Joe: 7-1 | Mike: 6-2 | Tyler: 5-3 | Tim: 4-4
Okay, look. Joe has been around the game a lot longer than I have. I mean, c'mon--the guy has Chris Chelios' rookie card in his wallet! And Mike? Well good God, even my girlfriend went 6-2. But that doesn't excuse me, does it? I'm sure I'll redeem myself this round. (You're gonna have to ask Tim about the whole "4-4" thing--I have no idea what's up with that.)
All that aside, the order for this series is as follows: Joe, Mike, Ty, Tim. That way by the time you get bored you'll be at Tim's, and he stands a 50% chance of being wrong. You won't miss much. (I still think you're neat though, Tim.)
Anyhow, check this crap out.
Western Conference Semi-Finals: 1 Vancouver Canucks v. 5 Nashville Predators
Joe: Vancouver gets into the second round by the skin of their teeth, beating the Blackhawks in overtime of Game 7. Nashville beats on Anaheim to win their first series in their history. My key to this matchup will be goaltending. Both goalies are up for the Vezina. I think Roberto is now confident he can lead his team onward to the WCF. Nashville had some problems on the road this season, finishing only 2 games above .500. Canucks in 6.
Mike: By the skin of their whale blubber, Vancouver avoided a disastrous upset series with the 2010 Cup Champs. I expect even more worrisome Canucks fans in this semi-finals series as they witness their “Luu” Piloted Blue Machine to take a nose dive. Pekka Rinne and his defensive pillboxes will cut down the Vancouver onslaught, and once again send ‘Nuck Nation’s faces into their tear-filled hands. Predators in 7.
Ty: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the Predators are going to absolutely control this series. I’ve seen Roberto Luongo revert back to his old, unreliable self, I’ve seen the Sedin twins and Kesler quieted over the course of the past few games, and I’ve seen the Canucks as a whole struggle against a rookie goaltender. Meanwhile, Shea Weber and the Predators’ defense continue to come up clutch, and Pekka Rinne is still in Vezina form. Predators in 5.
Tim: The emotion that poured out of Vancouver after their win (finally) over Chicago was stellar. Unfortunately for Canucks fans that excitement will be short lived. Luongo looked average at best in a decisive Game 7. Rinne and the defense is a sight to be seen. With the addition of Mike Fisher, who has been a revelation in the music city, the offense is nothing to thumb your nose at either. The Canucks historic collapse will take place in the second round this year. Predators in 6.
Western Conference Semi-Finals: 2 San Jose Sharks v. 3 Detroit Red Wings
Joe: In 1994, the Sharks pulled off a huge upset over the #1 seed Detroit Red Wings. Since then, the Sharks have had trouble getting over the hump in the playoffs. Last season they put a whupping on Detroit but got swept by the Blackhawks. Will this be Nik Lidstrom’s last playoff run? Will Joe Thornton finally shake the post season choke talk? Will Antti Niemi be the anti-Nabokov and win a big series? Red Wings in 7.
Mike: Yet another upset in the making. The #2-seeded San Jose Sharks will become just another extinct marine animal at the veteran hands of Blood Red Hockeytown. You thought you had trouble with the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose? Prepare yourselves for a man named Pavel Datsyuk―a shark’s natural enemy. The "N&N" between San Jose's pipes won't get the job done against all that seasoned Wing meat. Red Wings in 6.
Ty: This series looks to me to be more of a question of “How many times will Antti Niemi be pulled?” than anything else. The Wings have depth, discipline, and resiliency―all necessary ingredients needed to go the distance. But I shan’t discredit the Sharks and their offensive prowess. And let’s not forget last season! But all of that is surely in the past, and the Red Wings look poised to go to the conference finals for the 9th time in their 20-year consecutive playoff run. Red Wings in 6.
Tim: Were it not for Philadelphia and their goalie carousel, San Jose would be at the forefront of the goaltender chatter. Antti Niemi, pulled from multiple games, has been sub-par at best. Detroit will be looking to carry the momentum against a shaky Sharks team. The forwards from Detroit can play any game you want them to. Offensively and defensively, the forward squad from the Motown winged wheels is superior. Despite the emotion this series will provide, Detroit will prevail. Red Wings in 7.
Eastern Conference Semi-Finals: 1 Washington Capitals v. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning
Joe: Two high-powered offenses battling it out here. Stevie Y has brought in the right pieces for the ‘Ning, and coach Bruce Boudreau finally has his team at almost 100% with Mike Green back and Mike Knuble returning at some point during the series. But this is the Lightning’s year. Veterans Simon Gagne, Vincent LeCavalier, Marty St. Louis and Ryan Malone will be helping the younger players as the series goes on. The 1-3-1 D is a tough combination to handle. Lightning in 6.
Mike: Just call it “The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: Part Deux”. Only this time there’s more firepower and less killing. The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin has had enough of constantly being compared to Pittsburgh's Sidney “The Kid” Crosby, and now with the Penguins out of the picture “Alexander the Great” will show his Motherland that he can conduct this orchestra of heavy shots on goal and walk away victorious. Capitals in 4.
Ty: Perhaps the most intriguing of the conference semi-finals. One team is rested. One team is riding a wave of momentum. One goalie is a rookie; the other is two years away from applying for his AARP card. One coach is terribly vulgar; the other is terribly…French. But a Boucher is a Boucher, and a Boucher can never be underestimated. Much respect to your offensive prowess, Capitals, but your quest for victory will have to wait. Lightning in 7.
Tim: This surprising Lightning squad certainly has the attention of the final 8. Coming back from a 3-1 series deficit is nothing to sneeze at. The Lightning have seemingly perfected the 1-3-1 style of play. With that said, the Caps are a completely different story. With the resurgence of captain Alex Ovechkin and the much improved defense, this Capitals team seems likely to outperform many of their recent efforts. This Southeast division showdown will be a very entertaining series to watch. Capitals in 6.
Eastern Conference Semi-Finals: 2 Philadelphia Flyers v. 3 Boston Bruins
Joe: We all know what happened last season. Not much has changed, except Tim Thomas is now the Bruins’ ‘tender and the Flyers upgraded on D. The Drew Carey look-alike has been a wall all year with the best save percentage in NHL history. He could be the difference maker in this series. The Flyers are coming off a grueling seven-game series against the Sabres, and it took back-to-back wins to win the series. Those type of games boost teams into the next round. Flyers in 7.
Mike: Like Batman and The Joker, we meet again. Only this time both the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins carry even heavier artillery. Like Ryan Miller from the distant Eastern Conference QuarterFinals, Tim Thomas may steal a game or two out from under our Broad Street “Mass Murderers”. But it will take much more than an aging wishbone in net to break up that Orange storm known as Danny Briere. Flyers in 6.
Ty: Tim Thomas, Tim Thomas, Tim Thomas. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Yes, the Bruins have the obvious edge in net. But so did the Devils, Bruins, and Canadiens last season. So did the Sabres this season. And if it’s even possible, their PP is worse than the Flyers’. The Flyers, meanwhile, have been battling for consistency for the better part of two months now. So who prevails in the end? The team with the bigger offensive depth does, that’s who. Flyers in 6.
Tim: Well here we go again, kids. As I said before, and will continue to state, the Bruins are the most complete team in the playoffs. Tim Thomas had one of the best seasons in NHL history, the defense is much improved, and they have an offense that can grind it out with the best of them. Philly comes off an emotionally-charged series where they saw 3 goaltenders used. Look for the Bruins to come out hard and fast, and be too much for the Flyers to handle. Bruins in 5.