NHL Playoff Predictions 2007-08 (Second Round)

by Ed Lau on April 23, 2008

Also posted over at Slap Shot Squad.

First off, let’s review how I did in the first round.

Eastern Conference

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (8) Boston Bruins

My Prediction: Canadiens in 4.
Result: Canadiens in 7.

It was a serious surprise to me to see the Canadiens pushed to the brink but the Bruins since Montreal has dominated Boston for the past two seasons. However, Carey Price was amazing and the Canadiens move onto Round 2.

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Ottawa Senators

My Prediction: Penguins in 5.
Result: Penguins in 4.

Not much of a surprise here as the Senators have some serious problems both on the ice and in the locker room. It’s already been announced that backup goaltender Ray Emery (who has been blamed for many of the Sens chemistry woes) will not be returning next year and the Senators could see many other changes with many high-profile UFAs probably not up for another contract. Captain Daniel Alfredsson returned early from injury but was largely ineffective against the young guns of the Penguins.

(3) Washington Capitals vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers

My Prediction: Capitals in 7.
Result: Flyers in 7.

It came down to one goal in overtime and it was the Flyers moving on. The Cinderella story ended a little earlier than Caps fans, and probably the NHL, wanted. You just know the NHL was hoping for a Ovechkin/Crosby matchup in the second round to sell the game to the American markets and probably NBC and ESPN.

(4) New York Rangers vs. (5) New Jersey Devils

My Prediction: Rangers in 6.
Result: Rangers in 5.

This wasn’t a particularly interesting series and I didn’t watch any of the games. The only significant story to come out of this series was Sean Avery’s behavior in front of Vezina candidate Martin Brodeur which prompted the NHL to make a rule change in regard to facing the goalie and waving your arms in the air. Seriously, I understand being a pest but that doesn’t mean you have to be a jackass…

Western Conference

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Nashville Predators

My Prediction: Red Wings in 5.
Result: Red Wings in 6.

Give the Preds credit…they weren’t even expected to be anywhere near the playoffs after dismantling their club in the off-season and yet they managed to push the President’s trophy winners to six games with some seriously gutsy efforts. They outplayed the Wings for large stretches but there’s no substitute for playoff experience.

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Calgary Flames

My Prediction: Sharks in 6.
Result: Sharks in 7.

As expected, the Calgary Flames put up a serious effort with the team’s veteran leadership stepping up big but in the end, they fell to the team most experts expect to be in the Stanley Cup Final this year. Calgary’s goaltending was a bit inconsistent as Miika Kipprusoff was pulled in game 7 in favor of veteran backup Curtis Joseph, who stole a game for the Flames earlier in the series. The Sharks big guns had a good series with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau (coming off a very disappointing regular season) and Jonathan Cheechoo putting up some decent numbers but surprisingly, it’s Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski leading the way. Brian Campbell, who was definitely the best pickup of the trade deadline, had an unconvincing series and was responsible for several turnovers that resulted in Flames goals. Vezina trophy favorite Evgeni Nabakov stood tall and was solid for the Sharks in net.

(3) Minnesota Wild vs. (6) Colorado Avalanche

My Prediction: Avalanche in 6.
Result: Avalanche in 6.

Who would’ve thought Jose Theodore would pull out a series like this? Seriously, he was universally trashed for being the most overpaid backup goaltender in the league for the last two or three years but in this series and in the latter half of the regular season, he was showing some of the form that won him the Vezina and Hart earlier in his career. And what can be said of Burnaby Joe that hasn’t been said already? Here’s another guy that seriously elevates his game when it matters and even though he’s one of the older guys in the league, there’s few players that are as clutch as Joe Sakic.

(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Dallas Stars

My Prediction: Ducks in 5.
Result: Stars in 6.

Seriously, who saw this one coming? After getting Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne back, the Ducks looked like the defending Stanley Cup champions but they utterly failed to match the intensity of the Dallas Stars, who were determined to not make another first round exit. This was a real shocker, especially with how great the Ducks looked going into the playoffs.

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So that gives me a 6-2 record in the first round.

So, for the second round…

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers

The Canadiens play another team that they’ve dominated all season, beating the Flyers in all four meetings this season. However, they also beat the Bruins in eight meetings this season and the first round match up went to a game seven. Although the Flyers are a better team than the Bruins, don’t expect this one to go the distance as Montreal is hitting their stride. At times, the Flyers were seriously dominated by a younger and less experienced Washington Capitals team and beat them by only a single goal in overtime in game 7. If the Flyers are to have any chance, Martin Biron needs to be outstanding and Daniel Briere needs to stay on fire. However, I’d expect the Canadiens to continue the domination we saw in their game 7 with Boston (5-0 in favor of Montreal) and take this series.

Prediction: Canadiens in 5.

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (4) New York Rangers

Although this match up isn’t as awesome as the prospect of a Ovechkin vs. Crosby/Malkin second round series, we still get the Penguins against Vezina trophy candidate Hennrik Lundqvist, Jaromir Jagr and Scott Gomez. Both teams dispatched their first round rivals quite easily and are well rested for what should be a very good round. The Rangers will no doubt have superpest Sean Avery in Sidney Crosby’s face throughout the series but I wouldn’t expect him to be all that effective. The Penguins have a number of players who are willing to drop the mitts to shut Avery up, including heavyweight Georges Laraque. Even skill players like Ryan Whitney and Ryan Malone aren’t going to shy away from the rough stuff.

The Rangers have the edge when it comes to defense but we haven’t seen the best from the Penguin’s blueline, which was rarely tested by a weak, disintegrating Ottawa Senators team. This one might go to six or seven but I think the Penguins are the better team, especially considering the fact that everyone is healthy and rested.

Prediction: Penguins in 6.

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Colorado Avalanche

These aren’t the same Red Wings that cruised through the first half of the season barely losing a game. For whatever reason, something has changed with this team and they could be on the verge of being upset in this round, given the trouble they experienced at the hands of a less experienced and much less skilled Nashville Predators team. Some will argue that they are the best team in hockey when you look at their record but consider that the Wings play in one of the weakest divisions in the league, where most of their wins will come against the Predators, Blue Jackets, Blues and Blackhawks. The Central certainly isn’t as competitive as the Northwest that the Avalanche come out of. The Red Wings are perhaps too soft and not built for playoff hockey, which would explain their lack of playoff success in recent years despite regular season domination.

There’s no shortage of veteran superstars on both sides and this will definitely be the series to watch as there is bad blood between these two teams considering their history. It will be a physically challenging series and in that aspect, Colorado has the advantage. Also consider the goaltending situation. Jose Theodore has been damned near lights out with a GAA of 1.88. The Wings aren’t far behind but Dominik Hasek has been shaky and Chris Osgood was rarely tested in the first round.

Prediction: Avalanche in 6.

(2) San Jose Sharks vs (5) Dallas Stars

It comes as a huge surprise to me that the Stars are even in the second round when you consider that they were up against the reigning Stanley Cup champions. I don’t have much to say about this one since while on paper the Sharks have a huge advantage, the Stars won their first round series extremely convincingly while the Sharks barely squeaked by the Calgary Flames. Traditional thinking goes out the window here, although I still believe the Sharks are the ones to beat in the Western Conference.

Prediction: Sharks in 7

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Michael Kwan April 25, 2008 at 6:59 pm

I pretty much agree with your second round picks, but I don’t think the Habs/Flyers series is going to end so soon. The Detroit-Colorado series is also a little iffy, but the Avs (with Sakic) should come out on top.

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