Now that everyone's playoff bracket is a complete bust if they had one let us look at the second round. I'm going to start out west.
SJS vs Col. I think this series is going to be decided by Martin Jones. San Jose is a more physical team up and down its lineup than Calgary was and it has more firepower from all over the lineup. Thus the top players on Colorado are really going to have to come up big for the team to come out on top. If Martin Jones can keep them bottled up to a degree by making a few big saves I see San Jose winning in 5 or 6. I also think that is most likely how this series will go.
STL vs Dal. STL and Nashville play a rather similar game with one major distinction. St. Louis' strength is up front whereas Nashville's was on the back end. Thus for Dallas it is almost the same challenge all over again however the forwards are going to be what they want to key on with St. Louis. Beyond that, this is going to be a close, defensive battle where the decider in my mind will be on what team takes advantage of the other team's mistakes. Ultimately I think the more consistent and better depth will likely put St. Louis through in 6 or 7 games.
NYI vs Car. The Hurricanes surprised me by beating the Caps in 7 games by being opportunistic while playing hard. Against the Islanders those opportunities are going to become more scarce. To boot the Islanders play a more physical game while having a few skill guys that can take advantage of turnovers themselves. The questions for me are all on Carolina's side as they don't have the physicality to match the Islanders nor the skill to pick them apart. I'm just not sure that working hard alone will be enough to beat a physical but patient defensive team. Islanders in 5, maybe 6.
Bos vs CBJ. The grind fest that I was hoping for has come to be. This is very likely to be a very physical and very intense series with every inch fought hard for. This series has the potential to be one of the best of the last decade. CBJ has the more explosive first line however it isn't by much. Beyond that your really splitting hairs picking these two teams apart. That said CBJ has 3 defensemen out at the start of the series. That alone could be the difference maker in the series and I think it likely will be. Boston in 6 or 7.
My conference finals matchups based upon my predictions: West: SJS vs STL. East: NYI vs Bos. Let us see how wrong I am.
- Paul T likes this