Another day, another playoff round is upon us. The Canadiens opened up Round 2 last night with a double overtime win, giving starved fans all the hockey we can take. Below are our expert picks for the upcoming round, with Suit filling in for Chris this time.
Montreal – Boston
Justin’s Pick: Habs in 7. Obviously the Bruins are a juggernaut, but I think the Canadiens are a really bad matchup for them. Carey Price can cancel out Tuukka Rask, and the mobility both up front and on the blue line could give the bigger, slower Bruins fits. Factor in a rejuvenated Rene Bourque and I could see the pesky little Canadiens outlasting their bitter rivals
Suit’s Pick: Montreal in 7. Grit vs. Speed always makes for an interesting matchup and normally I’d go with grit, but in this case I think MTL will finally get past these guys. They’ve been really good on the road and that can be devastating since the Bell Centre is an extremely tough place to play. I also think Price is going to finally steal one.
Becky’s Pick: Bruins in 6. The second the Bruins wake up, it’s like Goliath if he had more skill. I know speed kills, but once a few crushing blows hit the Habs, even their “enforcers” aren’t going to stand much of a chance. I’d put them in 5 if Bergeron were to start a hot streak in game 2.
Dave’s Pick: Boston in 5: They are just too good for Montreal. Better goaltending, better depth, better talent, better defense, better puck possession. Better everything really.
Kevin’s Pick:Bruins in 7. Like the Rangers, the Bruins don’t tend to make things easy. But in the end, Boston is a far superior team that is built for this time of year. I always underrate Montreal, but I think the Canadiens are in a little over their heads.
New York – Pittsburgh
Justin’s Pick: Rangers in 7. Both teams are going to trade blows in this series, which could end up being a roller coaster. I think the Blueshirts have the defensive players to contain the Pens’ stars and a more balanced roster. I think depth wins out here, but it definitely won’t be easy. No stupid penalties or the Rangers will be going home early.
Suit’s Pick: Pittsburgh in 7. Sorry folks, I think the dream dies in this series. Crosby and Neal have yet to go off and I can’t see them sleep walking through this series. The Penguins have been dropping 3-4 goals a game without contribution from those two. If they wake up, I can’t see us being able to match their offense. Fleury has looked shaky again, but we always make average goalies look good, so that could be a wash. Wild card here is Nash. He’s been decent, but decent won’t cut it in the Igloo.
Becky’s Pick: Rangers in 7. I want to say in 6, but we all know how the Rangers are. I fully expect Fleury to Fleury and, even though we make mediocre goalies look like absolute studs, there’s no way our goal scorers miss those. And by goal scorers, I mean Zucc. The Jackets brought them through a tough 6 and, I think that if AV keeps Carcillo in through the series, he’ll be the perfect thorn in the side of Sid and his gang.
Dave’s Pick: Rangers in 6. The Penguins have great top end skill, and that will certainly provide a tough challenge for the Rangers, as no one can match Crosby-Malkin-Neal-Kunitz. After that, the Rangers have the advantage in net, on defense, and in forward depth. This is a great matchup for the Rangers, who held a sizable puck possession advantage on the Pens throughout the season.
Kevin’s Pick:Rangers in 7. I’ve gone back and forth on this a million times. But if anyone can slow down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – it’s Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist. I’m counting on a Fleury meltdown, but I think the Blueshirts advance again.
Minnesota – Chicago
Justin’s Pick: Hawks in 5. The Blackhawks are simply a superior team to Minny. They will just grind them down with their speed, creativity and defensive prowess. Parise and Suter will have their moments, but they are bringing a knife to a gun fight.
Suit’s’ Pick: Chicago in 5. I didn’t think Minny would get out of the first round, so I can’t seem them doing much damage to the defending champs. I think Minny will steal one at home, but ultimately they won’t be able to contain Chicago who can beat you in so many ways. Their offense is just so dynamic when it’s clicking with chances off the rush, deep forechecking, special teams, etc. Kuemper’s been a good story for Minny, but he’s not ready to carry them through a series.
Becky’s Pick: Hawks in 4. They’re really good and they steamrolled through the Blues. The only way this goes long is if the new Wild bandwagon brings them some luck.
Dave’s Pick: Hawks in 5: Minnesota is a solid team, but Chicago is rolling right now after winning four straight against St. Louis. Chicago is my pick to come out of the West, and there’s no reason to go against that now.
Kevin’s Pick: Blackhawks in 4. I almost never predict sweeps, but I think the Wild have no business being here. Chicago is so vastly superior to Minnesota that the Blackhawks will cakewalk to the Conference Finals and have some extra rest before a clash of titans with Los Angeles.
Los Angeles – Anaheim
Justin’s Pick: Kings in 6. The Ducks caught a massive break against an inferior Stars team, but unless they commit to Jonas Hiller or give the keys to John Gibson, I think the Ducks will have a tough time getting past Quick and the Kings. The loss of Robidas also hurts the Ducks blue line in addition to suspect goaltending. Anaheim came apart at the worst possible time.
Suit’s Pick: Ducks in 7. On paper and stat-wise LA looks favored, but they take too many penalties and the Ducks PP is lethal. I mean they’re converting at a 43% clip at home. That could prove to be the difference in a series that will be tight. There’s also a calmness to their game that I think will bode well over the long haul.
Becky’s Pick: Ducks in 6. I don’t think the Kings should’ve gotten any farther than 6 games in that last series, but never underestimate the power of a team that chokes hard. The Ducks have been consistently good all year and Quick isn’t a superstar, as shown early on in round 1.
Dave’s Pick: Kings in 6. The Kings are still the darlings of the #fancystats folks, and they made us look smart again after becoming just the fourth team in NHL history to erase an 0-3 deficit to win a round in the playoffs. The Ducks don’t have the possession numbers to match up, and their PDO was off the charts, signaling a regression to the mean.
Kevin’s Pick:Kings in 6. Los Angeles has a ton of momentum going after coming back against the Sharks, and I’m terrified of Jonathan Quick at this time of year (despite his rocky start). The Ducks’ goaltending woes will be their undoing – but I don’t think Anaheim is in the same class as L.A. to begin with."BSB's Round 2 Picks",