Hunt for Lord Stanley’s Mug: Part 3

Posted: May 14, 2013 by ajaysharma18 in Uncategorized

NHL_2013_StanleyCupPlayoffs_English_Primary

Round one of the 2013 NHL Playoffs is complete and boy was it ever amazing!  From unexpected outcomes, to nail-biting finishes, the first round definitely delivered a great start to the post-season.  Now we shift our attention to the remaining eight teams as they continue their fight towards the cup.  Lets take a look each of the four match ups remaining to see who has the best chance of advancing to the Conference Championships.

Pittsburgh Penguins(1) vs. Ottawa Senators(8)

The biggest surprise in the Eastern Conference first round was Ottawa dismantling Montreal with relative ease.  I for one did not expect such a lopsided score line.  Ottawa dominated for long stretches throughout the series, backed by exceptional goaltending by Craig Anderson.  Here is where they will have to reach an even higher level if they want to compete with the Penguins.  Pittsburgh has no issues offensively, however between the pipes it is a different story.  Marc-Andre Fleury is still suffering from post season meltdown, a trend that started last year against Philly.  He had a very poor first round which led to back up Tomas Vokoun taking his spot and ultimately out playing him.  It will be interesting to see whether Fleury returns to start game one or whether the Pens stick with the hot hand.

On paper this series is a mismatch.  Pittsburgh has the advantage in almost every category, especially intangibles and experience.  If Pittsburgh can figure out their goaltending situation, they should be able to come through.  Ottawa can carry momentum from round one and surprise many, but Pittsburgh and Montreal are two very different teams.  I feel Pittsburgh has too much fire power and depth for the Sens to handle however Ottawa can be stingy at times and capitalize on their chances.  Should be a fun series to watch. Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6

Boston Bruins(4) vs. New York Rangers(6)

An original six matchup takes place in this series.  Both teams are coming off game 7 triumphs, with Boston generating one of the biggest comebacks I’ve ever seen.  As a Leaf fan I really don’t want to dissect any further….*insert tears.  Both teams are very deep, and the key here will definitely be turnovers and special teams.  Boston can be very sluggish at times, which was evident in the first round.  Where Boston excels is on the fore check.  Their best chance to score against New York will be to get the puck to the point and get traffic, otherwise King Henrik will have no problem with pucks that he can see.  At the other end of the ice is Tuuka Rask, who also played well in round one.  The Rangers are really good at getting pucks deep and creating turnovers which could pose a problem for Boston if they’re not careful.  The Marian Gaborik trade is certainly paying off for New York as Derrick Brassard was their best forward throughout round one.  This will be a very tough series, with not much separating the two teams.  The Rangers seem to be firing on all cylinders, and with a red-hot goalie, I give the slight edge to New York in this one.  Another potential seven gamer.  Prediction: New York in 7

Chicago Blackhawks(1) vs. Detroit Red Wings(7)

Chicago is the more rested team coming into the series, as they played two fewer games than Detroit.  It is a pretty lopsided series on paper, however counting a team like Detroit out is illogical.  The Wings are coming off a game 7 road win, and come in with full confidence.  The difference….Chicago is scary good.  They can score in bunches and Detroit will be in tough trying to control all the firepower.  If Detroit can frustrate Chicago and withstand going down early in games they definitely have a chance.  The Wings may be young, but they still have seasoned vets that know what it takes to win.  Mike Babcock has done a great job getting the best out of his young players and it showed during the first round. For the Hawks, Corey Crawford leads all playoff goalies with a minuscule 1.32 GAA.  But its easy to put up great numbers when your team is continuously giving you a lead to work with.  I have to give Detroit serious credit.  Year after year they just seem to get it done come playoff time.  This series will be exciting to watch, however I believe Chicago is just too strong for Detroit this time around.  Prediction: Chicago in 6

Los Angeles Kings (5) vs. San Jose Sharks(6)

California Dreaming is the tune that comes to mind here.  San Jose was definitely the biggest surprise in the first round. I always thought that they would win, however no one would have predicted a sweep.  Both teams are coming in with four straight wins.  Los Angeles has been playing the kind of hockey that won them the cup last year, and San Jose is playing the kind that could win it for them this year.  With the pressure off of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, they can both relax and play their game.  Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture continue to impress, making the Sharks offence more than a one trick pony.  Jonathan Quick is starting to play the way he did last year, which is bad news for any opponent.  After big mistakes in game one and two, Quick bounced back with four great games.  Los Angeles plays a very tight defensive game which the Sharks will have to figure out sooner rather than later.  The goaltending matchup will determine the winner of this series.  Both Quick and Niemi have won the Stanley Cup, so experience is no issue.  Look for a hard-fought battle in the state of California.  Tough one to predict.  Prediction: Los Angeles in 7

By: Ajay Sharma- Hockey Writer

Photo credit: http://www.NHL.com     

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