Time to review my round 2 picks and look at my predictions for the Conference Finals. I went 75% again. Kudos again to the West for playing along! And, in the East, well…apparently no one told Tampa that they weren’t supposed to still be in the game.
Again, not a whole lot for me to say about how things went in the West. I think Nashville learned that you need more than a hot goaltender and two good defensemen to win in the playoffs. How about that Pekke Rinne? Wow! And, I have to thank the Wings for at least making one series in the second round interesting. In the end, we’re where I thought we’d be all along, San Jose vs. Vancouver for the Conference title.
Vancouver has seemed to have lost their offensive edge, in particular the Sedin twins. While Luongo has played better than I think anyone expected, the question is can he handle the Sharks’ powerful offense as the playoffs wear on? On the other side, I think Niemi is out to prove why he won the Cup and why he can do it again. I don’t think San Jose will let themselves make the same mistake of falling into a hole. Look for this to be a fun series to watch and it will probably go the distance. These are the two teams that had something to prove this year, that they could shake off the “choke” label, and that they did. I’m sticking by my pick of San Jose.
Now, on to the East. Apparently not liking the excitement of the OTs and drawn out exciting round one, Boston and Tampa decided to wrap things up practically before they started. But, hey, as a Pens fan, I’m not complaining. It was like Christmas here for a couple of days with both the Caps AND the Flyers being swept. It was like a little peace offering from the hockey gods for taking out half of our team during the season.
Anyway, thank you Boston for playing along. You faced the Flyers with their goaltending problems and all of their other team problems. And, predictable as always, they collapsed and became undisciplined. The highlight had to be the new-to-Twitter Dan Carcillo’s tweet after that game: “f my life”. He deleted it by the next morning. Mike Richards, for once in his life, stayed silent on Twitter. We all knew that on paper, the Caps had a better team than Tampa. But, we also know that they tend to collapse in the playoffs. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the magnitude of the Caps failure though. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team play a more uninspired round of playoff hockey in my life.
Tampa, I just don’t know what to do with you anymore. I know the old saying: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. By that theory, I should pick you over Boston. I’m looking at goaltending, certainly neither team has the advantage of a younger goaltender who might not tire out. Roloson has been hot in these playoffs, but Thomas has been solid this entire season. If one goaltender should start to falter, Boston certainly has the advantage with Rask over Smith as a backup. Both teams have an impressive offense, but I’m giving Boston a slight edge here because they have been more consistent through the playoffs while there were times in the Pittsburgh series where Stamkos disappeared for games or St. Louis was shutdown. While Tampa has a dangerous power play, Boston has proved that they can win games without scoring on the PP. As long Boston’s PK can be effective against Tampa, special teams won’t be that much of a factor. On defense, I’m again giving Boston the edge. They have consistently played strong in front of Thomas and I think they are more effective than the defensive corps that Tampa has faced so far…the Pens collapsed in the playoffs and Washington struggles with that whole concept. I think this will also be a good series. I’m standing by my pick of Boston.
OK, I’ll be back to torture myself again before the Cup Finals…hopefully it will be San Jose vs. Boston like I predicted!