Monday, May 18, 2009

Playoff Journal Part V

I know, I know. Round 3 has already started. Not to worry, I made my predictions before the round started, and I'm sticking to it. No matter what the result of one full game and one full period may indicate. Ben and I accurately predicted that the Hawks, Wings, and Pens would win. And the Canes? Well neither one of us saw that coming. 

Eastern Final
4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 6. Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes just keep on blowing through their opponents in game sevens, beating the number one and number three seeds on way to the Eastern final. They've been able to win games thanks to monster performances by Eric Staal, rock solid goaltending from Cam Ward, and timely goals from heroes such as Jussi Jokinen. The Penguins meanwhile are coming off a seven game series with the offensive juggernaut known as the Washington Capitals, solving a hot rookie goaltender in Simeon Varlamaov, and having Crosby play better than Ovechkin. It would be easy to pick the Canes here, considering who they beat. However, I don't think that the Canes will be able to contain MVP nominee Evgeni Malkin or that other non-MVP nominee Crosby. Both teams had coaching changes in the middle of the season that paid immediate dividends. Both teams have goaltenders that have carried their team to the Cup Final. However Pittsburgh holds the edge in offensive depth as they have wave after wave of players who can score. The no-name defense of Carolina may have been able to handle the limited offenses of the Devils and Bruins, but Pittsburgh will be too much to handle. Pittsburgh doesn't exactly have a stellar defensive unit either, but they are effective.
Prediction: Penguins in seven

Western Final
2. Detroit Red Wings vs. 4. Chicago Blackhawks
A classic matchup featuring two original six teams. Earlier this season the two teams met in the outdoor winter classic. Now its May and the heat has been turned up as the winner gets to go to the big show. Chicago has proven this playoffs to be relentless. A 3-0 lead heading into the third is not safe with the young Hawks prowling. The Red Wings meanwhile ended up playing a series that was longer and closer than they would have liked. Both teams have fossils in nets who have put father time in their back pocket for now at least. This should be an entertaining series as Chicago has a stable full of young rising superstars while Detroit has a stable full of established superstars who have won it all before. Both teams feature strong defensive units that give their offenses a chance to play run and gun hockey. It will be entertaining to watch Byfuglien and Holmstrom in the same series as Byfuglien is starting to gain a reputation for being a Holmstrom like player. I'm giving the edge to the Hawks in this one. They have more youth, and the Wings are just coming out of a tight checking grueling matchup against the Ducks. If Hossa and Datsyuk wake up a little more things may be different, but until then...
Prediction: Blackhawks in seven

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