Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference Finals

I really need to stop predicting winners. I'm apparently terrible at it. Anyways, I'm not sure if there has been a more exciting conference semi-finals in recent memory. Some notes:

-Three series went 7 games, and the fourth went 6 games.

-The NHL got 6 great games from their dream match-up of Ovechkin vs. Crosby, but the Capitals started their summer vacation a game early and were massacred in the series decider.

-Carolina and Boston played an exciting game 7 that went into overtime before Scott Walker knocked the game winner in with less than a minute to go in OT.

-Detroit and Anaheim continued their trend of tightly contested games and it took a late third period goal by Dan Cleary to finally send the defending champs into the conference finals.

-Chicago's 7-5 win over Vancouver in game 6 was the highest scoring playoff game since Buffalo beat Ottawa 7-6 in 2006.

Eastern Conference Finals:
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #6 Carolina Hurricanes
Pittsburgh returns to the Eastern Conference Finals just a season after going to the Stanley Cup. It's Carolina's first trip here since they won it all in 2006. The Canes are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, but Pittsburgh is showing their experience as they were able to erase the Caps 2-0 series lead and eventually win that series. Pittsburgh has had some trouble with winning elimination games this season. They failed to eliminate the Flyers and the Capitals on the first attempt.

The Prediction:
My head says Pittsburgh, my heart says Carolina. I'm going with the Canes to get it done in 6.

Western Conference Finals:
#2 Detroit Red Wings vs. #4 Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks are the youngest, and possibly the most exciting team left in the playoffs. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Martin Havlat have really carried the team offensively, and Nikolai Khabibulin has been fantastic when he's needed to be (as I write this, he stoned Johan Franzen twice at the goal line). Detroit has the experience in this series, but they have also failed to go to back to back Stanley Cup Finals since the late 90's when they won consecutive titles.

The Prediction:
Again, the head says Detroit, but the heart says Chicago. I like Chicago a lot, but I just don't see them getting it done this time. They'll push Detroit to the limit though. Red Wings in 7.

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