2011 second round predictions

Penaltykiller

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
In the regular season Tampa boasted the better offense and powerplay while Washington had the better goals against and save percentage. Although I think the gap is closer since Tampa acquired Roloson.  Both have good penalty kill units, but Tampa has the powerplay advantage. Tampa also had the advantage in shot differential while Washington had the season series. I am going with Washington because they have enough firepower that could explode at any time and their defense and experience give them a bit of advantage. Washington in six.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins
The Flyers boasts the better offensive depth, but Boston was a top 5 offense in the regular season and sported the better goal differential. Boston also had the better goals against and team save percentage. Boston was also the better shooting team, but they were also one of the worse team with shots against. Both are fairly even in special teams as both boast mediocre powerplays and penalty kills. This is going to be another nailbiter that will likely go to seven,  but I think Boston’s playoff scoring woes might bite them. Flyers in seven.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators
These were two of the top three teams in defense and goaltending in the regular season, but they were night and day when it comes to offense. They split the series at two a piece in the regular season, but San Jose was able to out shoot them by a fairly wide margin. Vancouver’s offense and shot differential will make up the difference. Vancouver in six.

San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings
Detroit sports the better offense, but San Jose has the better goals against and goals differential. They were the top two teams in shots, but San Jose holds the edge in shots against and shot differential. San Jose had the better goaltending, but neither was great. San Jose won the season series 3-1 and I think they will win this series, but it will be close. San Jose in seven.

Pavialax

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Washington Capitals vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning
You could say that the Capitals had the easier matchup against the Rangers in round one, but Tampa seemed to get better throughout their first round series against the Penguins. Tampa has 13 guys that have tallied a goal in the first round while the Capitals have goals come from seven of their players.  Both teams have overcome deficits in games at different times in the first round. Both have shownthey can play a tight, shutdown kind of game, but they also can open it up. Tampa in 7

(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (3) Boston Bruins
I’m sure Bruins fans are saying that this year will be different and they are right. The Flyers will not go down 3-0 in this series, and though they have shown resiliency in the first round, I don’t expect them to give up any more 3 goal leads. I think Jeff Carter will be back early in round 2, which means a full lineup of forwards that are dangerous and can score.  Chris Pronger is back and his mere presence on the ice has had a positive impact on the struggling power play. The key is still going to be tough physical play while staying disciplined. Claude Julien’s rallying cry in game seven overtime against Montreal was a chance at redemption by winning and facing the Flyers.  Boston’s power play has to be a point of concern for them; they scored 0 goals on the power play while giving up a shorthanded goal in game 7 to Montreal. Even so, the Flyers penalty kill units need to be much better in round 2. Both teams have balanced scoring, with 11 players on each side contributing at least 1 in the goal column and 4 players on each side with more than 1 goal. Both teams have defensive depth. Both teams have strong 5 on 5 play. Bruins have Tim Thomas. Flyers have Brian Boucher.  This should be a good series.  Flyers in 6

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (5) Nashville Predators
We get to see the Vezina candidate Roberto Luongo, matching up against the Vezina candidate Pekka Rinne. I think the Canucks were lucky to escape round 1, but can the momentum of finally getting past Chicago carry them through this series?  Will the Predators momentum from finally winning a playoff series carry them through the series? I think special teams will be extremely important in this series. I think we’ll see mostly low scoring affairs and don’t think the Canucks defense can hold up in front of Luongo. Nashville will continue to get scoring from a variety of players, and I think Sergei Kostitsyn will contribute in this series. Predators in 7

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (3) Detroit Red Wings
The outcome of this matchup is the toughest to predict. Some may give the edge to Detroit because they’ve had time to rest and regroup following their commanding sweep of the coyotes in round 1. Some may think that the layover will do more harm than good. This is a close series from coaching on down to goaltending. I think it’s going to 7 games, definitely. I’m totally flipping a coin for this one. Sharks in 7

Dan A

EASTERN CONFERENCE

#1 Washington/#5 Tampa Bay
Clearly I either underestimated Tampa or overestimated Pittsburgh, because the Lightning showed amazing resiliency in coming back from 3-1 to best the Penguins. Meanwhile, the Capitals did what I expected them to do against New York, with Michal Neuvirth shutting the door. In this matchup, the goaltending battle between impressive rookie Neuvirth and amazing veteran Dwayne Roloson will be something to watch. I think the Capitals get over the second-round hump in this one, overwhelming the Lightning after a tight first couple games.  Washington in 6.

#2 Philadelphia/#3 Boston
After besting the Canadiens in game 7 overtime, the Bruins have their chance for revenge against the Flyers. Boston jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second round last season, but I don’t see them jumping out to as fast of a start against this Flyers team. The main advantage for Boston is, obviously, in goal. However the Flyers have a deeper forward and defensive corps. Can the Flyers’ offense pick on Thomas in the same way that it picked on Ryan Miller this season and Martin Brodeur and Jaroslav Halak last year? Thomas is great, and I love the guy, but I think the Flyers have too much power and are too solid on the back and. Philadelphia in 6.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

#1 Vancouver/#5 Nashville
The Canucks terrified their fans last round by almost blowing a 3-0 lead to rival Chicago but were able to bear down and take it in overtime. The Predators, on the other hand, surprised many by transcending their reputation as a defensive team by putting up 22 goals on Anaheim (tied for most in the league) thanks in large part to Mike Fisher. As impressed as I was, I don’t really see Nashville’s offense remaining this good. Rinne is going to have to play out of his head in this series, what he was unable to do last round.  Nashville will push it to 7 games, but the Canucks will in in 7.

#2 San Jose/#3 Detroit
The Red Wings surprised me last round by easily trouncing the Coyotes in the only sweep of the quarterfinals. They made Ilya Bryzgalov look ordinary by crashing him and not allowing him to see the puck, and I see more of the same coming against the suddenly shaky Antti Niemi. Jumbo Joe Thornton finally made an appearance in overtime of the deciding 6th game against Los Angeles, but the real story of the Sharks is the continued emergence of Logan Couture and the dominance of Ryane Clowe. Jimmy Howard really looked like one of the top goalies in the league last round and, while the Sharks have a far superior offense to what Phoenix had, I see that continuing. The Red Wings will take it in 6.

Craig F

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Capitals vs. Lightning
I still, for the life of me, don’t see the Capitals making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They won the opening round in 5 games, but they needed two overtime games (one of which double overtime). Overcoming a 3-1 series deficit, I see the Lightning coming into the series hot while the Caps might be a bit rusty having a few days off. Dwayne Roloson, in my opinion, will out play Michal Neuvirth. Prediction: Lightning in 7

Flyers vs. Bruins
Both teams needed 7 games to win their first round series against far less superior teams. However, the Flyers’ last two games in the series looked a lot better than the Bruins’ last two games. Needing 3 overtime wins, including one in game 7, the Bruins aren’t looking at their best. Also, last year’s series is still freshly in everybody’s mind. Prediction: Flyers in 6

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Canucks vs. Predators
Pekka Rinne is a great goaltender and Shea Weber leads the defense, but I don’t see the Preds’ offense out playing the Canucks offense. Also, the Canucks should be on an emotional high after the intense opening round they just played against the Blackhawks, a team that’s haunted them for awhile. Prediction: Canucks In 6

Red Wings vs. Sharks
The Red Wings killed the Coyotes while the Sharks needed 6 to beat the Kings without Anze Kopitar. The Sharks did beat the Red Wings last year, but I personally don’t see it happening again. This series will be close, but I think the Wings ultimately pull it out. Prediction: Red Wings in 7

Frick

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Capitals vs. Lightning
This one is a bit tougher.  The Capitals have been sitting around for awhile and the Lightning just had a crazy emotional win over the Penguins.  I place the over/under on Boudreau’s F-bombs in news conferences at 12.

Wait, who’s going to win the series?  Lightning in 7.

Flyers vs. Bruins
Tim Thomas?  Please, he sucks.  Mark Recchi?  Old.  Chara?  Big, but not Pronger.  I’ll be at the WFC for game 5, so it will be Flyers in 5.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Canucks vs. Predators
Um, clearly the Canucks in 5.  I don’t even know anyone on the Predators besides Carrie Underwood’s husband.

Wings vs. Sharks
Sharks are predators, and will chew up anything in their path.  Plus they have to get to the Conference Finals in order to go down in flames against the Canucks.  Sharks in 6.

Marcello D

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Although the Flyers/Bruins series has the advantage in terms of drama and potential story lines, I think the Capitals/Lightning series will be the most exciting one of the second round. I expect a wild series filled with vastly different outcomes from game-to-game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple shutouts, a multiple overtime game, and a huge blowout for each team. Although the Capitals will be well rested and prepared, I think they will underestimate their opponent and the Bolts will come out flying. Tampa Bay in seven.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins
What are we in store for here, another epic comeback? History in the making? One team extracting its revenge against the other? I doubt it, though the media will surely portray it that way. My guess is that this series won’t live up to the inevitable hype. Brian Boucher has been a much better goalie that he’s being given credit for and, aside from one forgettable period, he has dominated this postseason. With a solid, healthier defense in front of him than in the first round — now featuring more Pronger! — he’s ready to put to bed the nonsensical goalie controversy. The Flyers are deeper, more resilient, and finally more focused than they were last season and I believe the team we saw come out in game 7 against Buffalo will show up for this entire series. Philadelphia in six.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators
This is a tough one. I’m not sure whether to go with my head or my heart.  In the end, Vancouver barely snuck by Chicago in the first round. Meanwhile, Nashville is riding a lot of momentum after their first postseason series win. This could end up being a tough, low-scoring battle from start to finish. The Predators will need to capitalize on their scoring chances and get Roberto Luongo off his game in order to gain an edge. Otherwise, Vancouver’s deeper offense is sure to outscore its opponent. I would love to pick the Predators but my head winning the battle over my heart. Vancouver in six.

San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings
I expect big contributions from San Jose’s youthful players, lead by rookie of the year candidate, Logan Couture. San Jose is better offensively but, in my opinion, they’re weaker on defense and in net than they were last year but not enough to make a significant difference. As long as they can get their power play going, the Sharks will come out on top. San Jose in five.

Bob H

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Capitals over Lightning in 6
Flyers over Bruins in 7

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Canucks over Predators in 7
Sharks over Red Wings in 6