Wednesday, April 25, 2007

2007 NHL Playoffs Round II

After picking five of the eight first round winners correctly (though only getting one series exactly right) I'm back to throw darts at the dartboard again and talk about round two...

Series I: Buffaslugs (57-30; 113 points; 1st Northeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 1st Overall) vs. New York Rangers (46-40; 94 points; 3rd Atlantic Division, 6th Eastern Conference, 15th Overall)

Once again the Buffaslugs "luck out" with a fellow New York team that really can't hold a candle to them. The problem for the Buffaslugs this time around is that should they try to sleepwalk against the Rangers, the Rangers are more likely to beat them than the Islanders were. The Rangers have to be full of confidence right now after their sweep of the Thrashers. Of course, the Buffaslugs will be a much harder opponent. The Rangers seem to be clicking at the right time, how long that lasts is anybody's guess but the Buffaslugs are the deepest team in the Eastern Conference and are faster than the Rangers. On paper this series shouldn't be very close and don't be surprised if it isn't but this has a chance of being a very entertaining second round matchup. Buffaslugs in six.

Series J: New Jersey Devils (53-35; 107 points, 1st Atlantic Division, 2nd Eastern Confernce, 7th Overall) vs. Ottawa Senators (52-35; 105 points; 2nd Northeast Division, 4th Eastern Conference, 9th Overall)

Since Martin Brodeur has taken over in net, New Jersey has made 12 playoff appearances including this year and he's only been bounced in the second round twice, one of those being last year when they fell to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions Carolina Hurricanes. While the Devils are once again facing a high-powered offense, they're playing a much better goaltender in Round II than they did in Round I. Now I would still take Martin Brodeur over Ray Emery any day of the week and twice on Sunday and I would also bet against a Bryan Murray coached hockey team in the playoffs in the same fashion. Murray has never gotten a team past the second round in 11 playoff appearances with three teams (he also failed to get out of the second round in his one AHL Playoff appearance with the Hershey Bears). Ottawa had less trouble with the Penguin Scum than I thought they would but I would be shocked to see the Devils collectively fail to show up to play against the Senators the way the Penguin Scum did. Devils in six.

Series K: Detroit Red Wings (54-34; 113 points; 1st Central Division, 1st Western Conference, 2nd Overall) vs. San Jose Sharks (55-32; 107 points; 2nd Pacific Division, 5th Eastern Conference, 5th Overall)

The Red Wings got past a Calgary team that had no idea how to win on the road in the first round. Now they face a San Jose team who had the most road wins of any team in the NHL in the regular season and who won two of three on the road in their first round series against Nashville in the second round. The Wings have not advanced past the second round without Scotty Bowman behind the bench in 19 years. The Sharks are not the Flames, they have a better balance which means a much more potent offense than what the Wings faced in the first round. I don't expect Detroit to go quietly but I can't see them getting past a younger and faster hockey team. Sharks in six.

Series L: Anaheim Thug Ducks (52-35; 110 points; 1st Pacific Division, 2nd Western Conference, 4th Overall) vs. Vancouver Canucks (53-36; 105 points; 1st Northwest Division, 3rd Western Conference, 8th Overall)

After surving a tougher than expected first round matchup, the Canucks have only a day off before playing the Thug Ducks. The Canucks got the job done against the Stars without much help from their star players but the Canucks cannot count on facing a Marty Turco like goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov or Jean Sebastien Giguere (not that Turco was at all to blame for the Stars' loss). The Thug Ducks dispatched the Wild in surprisingly easy and unnecessary thug-like fashion. This is a matchup that favors the Ducks but the quick turnaround for Vancouver combined with Anaheim having almost a week off could put Anaheim in a quick hole or out to a quick lead. Either way, Vancouver was very inconsistent in the first round and any inconsistency will cost them dearly in this series. Thug Ducks in six.



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