NHL Playoff Predictions: Round 2

So, last round, I went a respectable 5 – 3. Or, well, at least it was respectable for me, since I have a goal of finishing over .500 so that I can be said to be generally better than what you’d expect from flipping a coin. What’s interesting is that in the East every higher seed won their series, while in the West 3 out of 4 lower seeds won theirs … and I’d have done a lot better there except that I picked the wrong higher seed to make it through.

But the second round starts tonight, and so now I have to try to predict the second round.

Eastern Conference

Rangers vs Washington: The Islanders put up a much bigger fight against Washington that I expected, and Washington was full marks for winning that series. That being said, the Rangers are a better team than Washington is, are playing well, and have solid and reliable goal tending. Don’t expect Washington to overcome this challenge.

Prediction: Rangers

Montreal vs Tampa Bay: This is a tough one, because both teams had a harder time beating their first round opponent than anyone expected, but how much of that is to the credit of the team they beat and how much of that can be blamed on weak play isn’t clear. These teams are close in terms of points and probably close in terms of overall team skill. So, I hem and haw and go back and forth but, finally, I decide that I have to go with the better goaltender, and that’s Carey Price right now. Sure, he didn’t play that well against Ottawa in a number of games, but he never plays well against Ottawa. If he rounds back into Vezina and potential Hart-winning form, Montreal will win the series.

Prediction: Montreal

Western Conference

Anaheim vs Calgary: I’m not sure it’s wise to pick against the lower seed in the West, given how the first round worked out, and Calgary has been overcoming all adversity and refusing to go away for pretty much the whole season. However, when they faced Vancouver they faced a vulnerable team that didn’t have all that much better a season than they did. Anaheim had a much better season and as evidenced by how they handled Winnipeg seems to be firing on all cylinders. This isn’t a match-up that Calgary can win.

Prediction: Anaheim

Chicago vs Minnesota: This is another close one. Minnesota has the advantage of having their goaltending set and playing well, while Chicago seems undecided between Darling and Crawford. On the other hand, Chicago has a strong and experienced team to throw at Minnesota. In the end, I think I’ll go with the experience, especially since Crawford has indeed won in the playoffs before and so even if they go with him he probably won’t cost them the series.

Prediction: Chicago

Summary

Eastern Conference

Rangers vs Washington Correct
Montreal vs Tampa Bay Incorrect

Western Conference

Anaheim vs Calgary Correct
Chicago vs Minnesota Correct

Overall Record: 8 – 4

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