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NHL 2nd Round Preview and Predictions
- Updated: May 2, 2014
NHL 2nd Round Preview
BY Ricky Chek
Well the field has been cut in half and some dreams have been crushed, others are still alive but as fans the Stanley Cup playoffs have done nothing to disappoint thus far and there is no time to breathe as the Boston Bruins and Montréal Canadiens get things going to kickoff the month of May and second round. I told you at the end of my first round article to buckle up and enjoy the ride so if you haven’t done so yet there is still plenty of time to jump on board I will even bring you up to speed and as always please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. Keep in mind this is only the appetizer and we still have the salad, main course, and dessert left to go. We finished up the first round of playoffs with three-count em three, game sevens. If the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets taught us it is that a 3-1 lead is a bad thing! We only had one four game sweep courtesy of the Canadiens from Montréal over the Ben Bishop-less Tampa Bay Lightning, the St. Louis Blues were eerily similar to the Blues of last year falling to the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks, thirteen overtime games and the San Jose Sharks did well what the San Jose Sharks do blow a 3 game series lead only to lose to the Los Angeles Kings in historic fashion. After the first round of predictions I managed a humbling 6-2 record missing only the Rangers/Flyers and Avs/Wild matchups. Now without further ado let’s dive into the second round match-ups.
MONTREAL CANADIENS VS BOSTON BRUINS
The Canadiens haven’t lost a game since the 22nd of April and that’s because they haven’t PLAYED SINCE THEN! In some sports that could be perceived as a great thing to get some rest and nurse a few of those injuries however hockey is a game of momentum especially in the playoffs and this could work against them against the Bruins. The Canadiens aren’t normally known as a high-scoring team, however there were able to do just that dispatching back-up goalie Anders Lindback and the Lightning in 4 games. Some may argue they had the refs in their back pocket, regardless, a few bad calls do not decide the fate of the series. They won’t have it so easy this go around facing the physical and tough Boston Bruins. The Bruins starting goaltender is not injured, in fact Tuukka Rask is playing better than ever allowing only just one goal per game on average during the 4-1 series win over the Detroit Red Wings. Boston was never really in trouble in this series after losing game 1 in Boston 1-0. Carey Price was baled out from his teammates against the Lightning allowing ten goals over just 4 games. Boston can do what Montréal can only better, and that is play strong, physical, and hard-hitting defense. Boston has many more scoring options than the Canadiens. Carey Price was able to outplay a back-up goalie in Lindback but will he be able to out play his counterpart in Tuukka Rask? Not a chance.
Ricky’s Prediction: BOS in 5
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS NEW YORK RANGERS
In probably one of the craziest series of the first round the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to down the Columbus Blue Jackets 4 games to 2. Thru the first four games the team that had a 3-1 lead in the game all lost also ironically losing the game 4-3 each time. 5 out of the 6 games in the series ended with a 4-3 final. However the Penguins when they seemed to play with intensity and determination were they able to stave off the Blue Jackets. Conversely if they want to advance into the Conference finals and get past the Rangers they will need to keep up with the fast pace and fight for loose pucks. They will also need much more consistent play from Marc-Andre Fleury and someone will have to tell Sidney Crosby and James Neal that the playoffs have started who have a combined 1 goal and 6 assists in the first round. Henrik Lundqvist was an absolute stud when it mattered in game 7, defeating the other team from Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Flyers and improve to 6-0 in game 7s at Madison Square Garden. There isn’t a bigger difference is styles of play than there are between these two teams. The Rangers play big and physical whereas the Penguins play fast and quick. If New York can slow down Crosby and company this will be a long and grueling series, which is exactly what Boston or Montréal want in this one.
Ricky’s Prediction: PIT in 7
ANAHEIM DUCKS VS LOS ANGELES KINGS
In one of the gutsiest and heartbreaking displays of hockey, the Dallas Stars fell 26 seconds short of forcing a game 7 but sometimes the pucks bounces your way and that’s exactly what happened for the Ducks scoring 2 goals in nearly the final 2 minutes of game 6 and eventually win clinch in overtime. The rookie goaltender, Fredrick Andersen looked just like that for a lot of the series after being pulled twice in the series. Similarly to the Canadiens, Anderson will have to play the way he did to led him to 20-5 regular season record if they want to beat Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings. After being only the fourth team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 deficit and win the series. Hockey is about of a game of momentum and if that’s true then the Kings have all the momentum in the world. The way they responded after being down and counted out by everyone they kept fighting and proved everyone wrong. Well I wont be the one to go against the Quick and the Kings and if this comes down to goaltenders even though I originally had Anaheim in the finals they wont make it past the Kings
Ricky’s Prediction: LA in 6
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS VS MINNESOTA WILD
After dropping the first 2 games to St. Louis, Chicago had a championship performance and reminded the league that the defending Stanley Cup Champs are still here and to be the best you will have to beat the best. Corey Crawford, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane played like the all-stars that they are, making everyone around them that much better. Playing a very solid well-rounded style of hockey combined with championship experience will make this team very hard to beat. The Wild came up with the upset of the first round overcoming all odds and beat the Avalanche in Colorado in overtime with Nino Niederreiter flicks in a wrist shot. Minnesota has become the Cinderella of the Stanley Cup playoffs. I will admit I didn’t give them much of a chance to defeat the Avalanche as impressive as they were against them. I fully expect Crawford and company to advance to the Western Conference finals.
Ricky’s Prediction: CHI in 6
Goaltending has proven to be the most important position in hockey and is arguably the most important position in all sports. In order to make it far in the playoffs you need a goaltender that can not only make the stops he is supposed to but also send a message and give your team a shot of energy and change momentum by stealing goals away from the opposition. If the second round is anything like the first, I can’t wait for the Cup Finals!!!!
Follow Ricky Chek on Twitter @rickyradioguy for updates on all things NHL, sports and entertainment.
NHL 2nd Round Preview and Predictions
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