Nearing the end of the second week of the NHL playoffs, we’ve seen one team advance and another toy with disaster.
The Montreal Canadiens were eager to move on to the second round, sweeping former Nashville Predators goaltender Anders Lindback and the Tampa Bay Lightning. On the other end of the spectrum, the Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves tied 2-2 in their series with the Columbus Blue Jackets, after the “head case” that is netminder Marc Andre Fleury appears to be back to his old tricks.
Here’s an update on my predictions for the eight NHL playoffs series:
Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning:
Prediction: Canadiens in six. Status: Canadiens win 4-0: As was mentioned above, this series was a wipeout. The Canadiens took advantage of a reeling Lightning club that recently lost their starting goaltender (and now Vezina Trophy finalist) Ben Bishop to injury. Points for me on this one, I had the correct series winner I just thought it would take a little longer to get there.
Blue Jackets vs. Penguins:
Prediction: Blue Jackets in seven. Status: Tied 2-2: This is probably the largest upset I called for in the first round, and I can’t feel too bad about where things are currently. When I selected Columbus to win their first playoff series ever, I was counting on Fleury being shaky in net and for the injuries that have plagued the Penguins all year long to catch up with them. The importance of game five in Pittsburgh can’t be stressed enough and the Blue Jackets have to hope their rally from three goals down in game four is fresh in the minds of the Pittsburgh defensive corps.
Stars vs. Ducks:
Prediction: Ducks in five. Status: Tied 2-2: The Ducks were clicking on all cylinders at home and jumped out to a 2-0 series advantage. Since the series shifted to Dallas, however, Anaheim’s uncertainty in goal has come to light and the club will be licking their wounds before a pivotal game five back in Southern California. The Ducks are my Western Conference champion, I need them to get things together quickly.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Rangers:
Prediction: Flyers in seven. Status: Rangers lead 2-1: The Flyers earned the all-important split in New York to begin the teams’ matchup but were trounced 4-1 at home earlier this week. Philadelphia’s captain Claude Giroux has been deathly quiet in the series and if the 26-year-old forward doesn’t produce very soon, this pick will be going, going, gone for me.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues:
Prediction: Blackhawks in six. Status: Tied 2-2: After giving up the tying goal in the final two minutes of both opening games, the Blackhawks were on the ropes in this series. I counted on the Blues late season plunge to continue when they went up against the defending champs, but St. Louis has been able to skate with Chicago so far. The Blackhawks may have counterintuitively seized momentum after the David Backes and Brent Seabrook hit/incident and all eyes will be on game five tonight in St. Louis.
Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche:
Prediction: Avalanche in five. Status: Tied 2-2: Similar to the Ducks series, I was feeling pretty good about a 2-0 lead for the Avalanche when the games shifted to Minnesota. A gritty overtime win in game three got the Wild back in the series, however, and frankly I’m uncertain on who has the upper hand currently.
Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks:
Prediction: Kings in seven. Status: Sharks lead 3-1: Oops. With this pick I kept thinking about the number of times that the Sharks have flopped in the playoffs. Let’s be honest, it’s kind of been their thing over the last decade. Now I’m wishing I had joined the long list of media that selected San Jose as their Western Conference champion, they’ve been that good.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Boston Bruins:
Prediction: Bruins in six. Bruins lead 3-1: My pick to be the 2014 Stanley Cup champion, the Bruins appear to be on their way to taking care of business in the first round. Despite the Red Wings winning the season series against them, the Bruins have rebounded from a game one loss to rattle of three-straight victories.