Well, this post is anti-climactic.
Here I sit, on the afternoon of the start of the second round, ready to give out my NHL playoff picks (for entertainment purposes only) to see who ends up in the Conference Finals and I’m a little deflated.
I know I went 7-1 in the first round with my picks, and that should have me feeling pretty good about my ability to forecast the sport, but when your only loser is the team that you write about the most – then it’s extra disheartening.
I mean, you think you’d know that series more than any other, right? But no. I’m able to predict Minnesota upsetting Colorado. I’m able to correctly prognosticate that the Blackhawks and Kings would win their brutal first round matchups. I was able to not be snookered into the notion that Detroit could beat Boston or Dallas could upset Anaheim. I even pegged Montreal to beat Tampa and Pittsburgh to knock of Columbus with little fanfare.
But the Flyers? I was thisclose to nailing a perfect first round.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
So, I won’t get into grave detail with my second round analysis. I don’t think I have it in me after coming so darn close to perfection. But I will offer you my picks anyway – to do with as you will.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings – The Ducks should be the best team out West, but for some reason, I’m not feeling their mojo right now. They didn’t exactly handle adversity well in the first round when they lost Ryan Getzlaf to an injury in Game 4 and Teemu Selanne was benched. The Kings are battle-tested and I expect are going to be even more amped after overcoming a 3-0 series deficit against San Jose. The Kings also have the edge on defense and goaltending and are mentally strong. I think the Kings go back to the Conference Finals for the third straight year. Kings in six.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild – How good of a story are the Wild? How great was that series with Colorado? That was playoff hockey at its finest. The best series of the first round by far. I love the way Minnesota coach Mike Yeo has his team playing. The Wild are made up of a couple of Superstars (Zach Parise, Ryan Suter), some key veterans (Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville), some underrated up-and-comers (Jared Spurgeon, Mikael Granlund) and a bunch of castoffs (Danny Heatley, Nino Niederreiter, Ilya Bryzgalov) and they’re playing an excellent team-oriented game. That said, I don’t think they’ll be a match for Chicago at all. The Blackhawks are too good, too deep and will be too much to handle for the Wild, setting up a rematch of the Western Conference Finals from last year. Blackhawks in five.
Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens – If there is one team that gives the Bruins fits, it’s the Habs. So, it wouldn’t be a major surprise if there was an upset here… O.K… Who am I kidding? If Montreal beats Boston, it would be a huge upset. The Canadiens were flying in the opening round with a sweep of Tampa Bay. But something tells me that a lengthy layoff like Montreal had will stem some of that tide and the Bruins will advance rather easily. Bruins in five.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers – How much more excited would the league have been if it were the Flyers instead of the Rangers? Alas, we have to wait til next year for that possibility. In the interim, we are left with two flawed teams playing for a right to be in hockey’s final four. No, I’m not being a homer when I call both teams flawed. The Rangers didn’t overwhelmingly impress me against the Flyers. Watching all seven games as closely as I did, I think the Flyers lost three of the four games they did on their own without much help from the Rangers, never mind Henrik Lundqvist didn’t seem himself. They went through large lulls against the Flyers where they seemed sluggish. Fortunately for them, the Flyers made more mistakes that cost them. Meanwhile, the Penguins looked better in Games 5 and 6 against Columbus, but they still seem shaky. Marc-Andre Fleury has had some chronic playoff goofs and Sidney Crosby hasn’t been himself in the playoffs either. I don’t like the Pens defense and they’re still short on skill up front after Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Yes, I know James Neal and Chris Kunitz but…. then what? Somebody has to win though, and I think the Penguins got the matchup they were hoping for. If it were the Flyers, it could have been a blood bath. Instead, I think it’s a cakewalk for Pittsburgh. Penguins in five.
Yes, I’m predicting two conference finals rematches. Sue me.
See you in the third round where I should be 11-1 and still lamenting my one loss.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers