13 May 2013

2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference Semifinals Predictions

We saw some excitement and we sure saw some tremendous hockey in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Will we see some more good action in the next round? Here are my predictions for the Conference Semifinals.

TV Schedule

(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
If Craig Anderson continues to play as lights-out as he has all season long, even going into last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Senators have a good chance to pull off the upset. And I think they have a good chance to shock the hockey world. They can wear down Pittsburgh's talented wings with a very good defensive corps and while they don't have the offensive guns that Pittsburgh has, they can take advantage of the issues their opponent had in net against the Islanders, who came close to pulling off the huge upset. I think Ottawa will pull it off.
Senators in 7

(4) Boston Bruins vs. (6) New York Rangers
Who doesn't love themselves some more Original Six hockey, eh? These two teams took pretty different paths here. On one hand, the Rangers completely demolished the Capitals in their Game 7, 5-0. On the other hand, the Bruins rallied from a three goal deficit with 11 minutes to go to tie the choking Leafs with less than a minute left and then pull off the Game 7 victory in overtime, 5-4. Good stuff all around. Both clubs are very strong at keeping pucks out of their nets and neither is all that special at sticking them in opposing nets. I think the difference will come on special teams and that gives the edge to the Bruins, who are fantastic on the penalty kill, while New York is just average.
Bruins in 7

(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (7) Detroit Red Wings
The Wings did a great job to get past the Ducks, which I predicted. They have perhaps the best coach in the league, have a very good goalie in Jimmy Howard and feature two of the best wings in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. And you never know in these rivalry matchups. But with how strong the Hawks looked against Minnesota, and especially with how fantastic Corey Crawford was in goal, I can't see Detroit pulling off this upset. It will be a fun series regardless. 
Blackhawks in 6

(5) Los Angeles Kings vs. (6) San Jose Sharks
How about a little bit of California Dreaming for hockey fans out west as these rivals will face off for only the second time in the playoffs. LA fought back hard after falling to a 2-0 deficit to St. Louis, with Jonathan Quick finding his game in the nick of time, while San Jose really kicked the asses of the Canucks in a four-game sweep. I was very impressed with how strong the Sharks were across the board and I think that strong play will lead them to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Sharks in 6

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