Round 1 was here and now is gone. It featured some nasty matchups, a handful of suspensions, a handful of sweeps, playoff heroes, and playoff failures. The biggest surprise by far was the Ducks devouring the Sharks in six games. Who saw that one coming? Not I. For the Round 2 predictions I have brought on another unofficial hockey expert and enthusiast, my cousin Ben for our predictions in Round 2.
2. Detroit Red Wings vs. 8. Anaheim Ducks
It is rather surprising that the Red Wings are the highest seed remaining in the West. While Anaheim does have "dark horse" written all over their jerseys, they are coming off an emotionally tiring and physical series against the Sharks. The Red Wings on the other hand have only played four games so they are well rested and healthy. Jonas Hiller gives the Ducks a chance to win every night, and the rest of the team has heart and determination that makes up for some holes in their talent. But the Red Wings boast two of the most complete players in the NHL; Zetterberg and Datsyuk. And then their defense is anchored by seasoned veterns who know how to win. These players will not be locked down like Thornton, Marleau & Co. were in the battle of California. Players like Franzen and Holmstrom are the types that will prevent an upset from happening.
Prediction: Red Wings in six
I think its safe to say that nobody expected the Ducks to beat the Sharks, Just like I don’t expect them to to beat the Wings in this series. Sure Ryan Getzlaf and goaltender Jonas Hiller are playing great, but in the end it won’t be enough to defeat the Red Wings. Detroit had the top powerplay in the league this year. Combine that with their suffocating defence and the Ducks will really have a lot on their plate in this round.
Prediction: Red Wings in 5
3. Vancouver Canucks vs. 4. Chicago Blackhawks
Even though the Hawks were the number four seed, nobody seemed to give them the respect they deserved in the first round. A strong performance by the Bulin wall means this team has Stanley Cup potential. The defense is young, mobile, physical, and makes smart plays. Up front they have an exciting and youthful offense that is led by Jonathan Toews who looks like he could be one of these Joe Sackic/Steve Yzerman playoff monsters for the rest of his career. Good news for Blackhawks fans, and good news for Team Canada. The Canucks on the other hand also have very strong goaltending from Luongo, a rough and tumble defense that makes you pay the price physically, and a fairly deep and bruising offensive lineup. They are also well rested and will be ready to go. The Blackhawks will be a little more drained. And by the end of this matchup both teams will be drained as I'm predicting a long and physical series that comes down to goaltending. Prediction: Keith will not forget that Burrows pulled his hair earlier this season.
Prediction: Blackhawks in seven
Feel free to discount 10% of what I say here because I’ve grown up as a die-hard Hawks fan. The fact is, the Canucks have a very good team. Roberto Luongo is quite possibly the best goaltender in the league and the team is not short on offensive weapons either with guys like the Sedin twins, as well as Ryan Kesler, Mats Sundin, and Alex Burrows. However, the Blackhawks are clearly the faster, tougher team as along with being incredibly dangerous up front. Vancouver will have their hands full physically against the likes of Adam Burish and Dustin Byfuglien not to mention budding superstars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Also, if vintage Nikolai Khabibulin shows up for this series like he did against Calgary, The Canucks could be in for a long series.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 6