The first round of the NHL playoffs is in the books and the sports world is still buzzing about the Boston Bruins miraculous, legendary 5-4 comeback overtime winÃ‚Â in game 7 over the Toronto Maple Leafs last night.Ã‚Â They’ve moved on as have seven other teams and they’re not all the top seeds.Ã‚Â Both seven seeds made it.Ã‚Â Both six seeds made it.Ã‚Â Of course each conference top seed made it.Ã‚Â Result of the lockout shortened season?Ã‚Â Not too sure about that.Ã‚Â Hockey always seems to find an upset or two, just look at last year with the eight seed Los Angeles Kings who won the Stanley Cup.Ã‚Â Let’s take a look at both the eastern and western conference finals.
NHL Eastern ConferenceÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€¹Semi-Finals:
The best goalie in this series is the SenatorsÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€¹Craig AndersonÃ¢â‚¬â€¹. The Ottawa Senators disposed of the injury-plagued Montreal Canadiens pretty easily, but it was Anderson who was the key to their dominance by making big saves in every game.Ã‚Â He is going to have his hands full against the Pittsburgh Penguins; they are the best offensive team in the NHL Playoffs. Despite their own goalie futility, the Penguins have an offense that is second to none.Ã‚Â They can put the puck in the net almost at ease it seems at times.Ã‚Â So, how will Anderson stopÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€¹Sidney CrosbyÃ¢â‚¬â€¹,Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€¹Evgeni MalkinÃ¢â‚¬â€¹ and company?Ã‚Â It’s not going to be easy.Ã‚Â Ottawa can make this a series, but even with the Penguins shortcomings at goalie, they will find a way to win the series.
Ã‚Â Prediction:Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€¹Pittsburgh Penguins in 6
What the Boston Bruins did Monday night in game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs (coming back to win 5-4) was truly something special.Ã‚Â That sort of performance will either catapult the Bruins and give them clear momentum in the series against the Rangers, or the euphoria of Monday’s victory will drain this team and lead to a quick exit from the NHL Playoffs.
The Rangers are riding on the back of Ã¢â‚¬â€¹goalieÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€¹Henrik LundqvistÃ¢â‚¬â€¹ .Ã‚Â Back-to-back shutouts in games 6 and 7 against the Washington Capitals got the Rangers into this round.Ã‚Â Their offense really hasn’t been anything special, except for game seven’s outburst of five goals. If the Rangers win this series, it will be because of Lundqvist.Ã‚Â In fact, Lundqvist is the only reason why this series will even be close at all.Ã‚Â Boston is a better defensive team and has more offensive capability.Ã‚Â They will use the momentum from their win against the Maple Leafs and find a way to win this series.
Prediction:Ã‚Â BostonÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€¹Bruins in 6
Ã¢â‚¬â€¹NHL Western Conference Semi-Finals:
The Red Wings had to begin their postseason mentality during the final week of the regular season.Ã‚Â They had to win their final three games just to make the NHL Playoffs.Ã‚Â So they were ready for the Anaheim Ducks and came up with the upset.Ã‚Â But this is a very tall task against the Blackhawks.
Chicago has the most depth out of any of the remaining playoff teams. They were the best team during the regular season. They had what,Ã‚Â a 24 game point streak correct? Chicago swept all four meetings with Detroit during the regular season, and in their last playoff series as Western Conference rivals before Detroit moves to the Eastern Conference, the Blackhawks get the last laugh.Ã‚Â Pretty easily too.
Prediction: ChicagoÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€¹Blackhawks in 6
The Sharks swept the Vancouver Canucks. The Kings lost the first two games of their series against the St. Louis Blues before rattling off four in a row, so both teams come in on hot streaks.Ã‚Â The Sharks have never been a great playoff team, but this year may be different.Ã‚Â The long layoff may hurt them in this game though.
Los Angeles has struggled to score goals and the Sharks are more than capable of exploding for a few goals.Ã‚Â Kings goalieÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€¹Jonathan QuickÃ¢â‚¬â€¹ is going to have to be on top of his game.Ã‚Â This series is a toss-up.Ã‚Â Both teams are very evenly matched.Ã‚Â This will be the best of the four series and unfortunately because it is late, only the west coast and avid hockey fans will see it.
Prediction:Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€¹L.A. Kings in 7
Enjoy the second round of the NHL playoffs.Ã‚Â If they’re as good as the first round, we are in for a real treat.
YDCFF.com would like to thank Nathan Stacken for contributing this post.