What a great first round it was. I had a pretty good first round myself. I correctly predicted six of the eight winners and three series I correctly predicted the winning team in the correct amount of games.
As everyone should be aware, the goaltenders are always a key factor. Hot goalies can carry a team very far, so I’ve tried to focus my key players for the second round on players other then the goaltender.
Here is what I have.
No. 1 Detroit vs. No. 5 San Jose
Detroit’s Dominik Hasek wasn’t tested against Calgary. The absence of Thomas Holmstrom for the first game and maybe more will definitely hinder Detroit. The play of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg along with Todd Bertuzzi when he did play was a main reason Detroit won its first round series.
For San Jose, if Evgeni Nabakov can continue to play well, they will be tough to beat. The play of their top 4 forwards; Jonathan Cheechoo, Bill Guerin, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Thornton was critical in their win over Nashville. The emergence of Matt Carle on defense and along with Scott Hannan really helped San Jose.
In this series Hasek will really be put to the test with the top forwards of Detroit. If Datsyuk and Zetterberg can dance on ice like they did in round one, Detroit will be good. San Jose’s big players up front could hurt Detroit physically.
Key Players: SJ: Matt Carle
DET: Henrik Zetterberg
Prediction: San Jose in 6
No. 2 Anaheim vs. No. 3 Vancouver
Anaheim never recovered last year from having five days rest before they faced Edmonton. That should be a different story this year. The play of Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger on defense is very key to them. Temmu Selanne and Andy McDonald need to be good up front. What Anaheim has different from everyone is a good goaltending tandem of Ilya Bryzgalov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
For Vancouver, the emergence of Willie Mitchell on defense and Trevor Linden on offense in round 1 was critical and they will be key against Anaheim. The Sedin brothers will have to have a more productive series this round if the Canucks are to advance which will be tough against a very good Anaheim defense.
I don’t see much success for Vancouver because Anaheim is very deep.
Key Players: VAN: Sedin Brothers
ANA: Andy McDonald
Prediction: Anaheim in 6
No. 1 Buffalo vs. No. 6 NY Rangers
The Rangers Henrik Lundqvist really showed up in the first round. Jaromir Jagr and Michael Nylander showed they were ready for the playoffs. But once again if Jagr wants the Rangers to go far, they will.
The offensive firepower of Buffalo is the winning factor in this series. They have four incredibly deep lines.
Key Players: NYR: Jaromir Jagr
BUF: Daniel Briere and Chris Drury
Prediction: Buffalo in 6
No. 2 NJ vs. No. 4 Ottawa
Ottawa had a lot easier time with Pittsburgh then I thought they would. The inexperience for the Pens showed and the experience of Ottawa showed as well. The emergence of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips and the way they shut down Sidney Crosby was why Ottawa advanced. They will now have to do the same thing with New Jersey’s ‘EGG’ line of Patrick Elias, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez.
Martin Brodeur was not the same Brodeur we know against the Lightning, but he came through in Games 5 and 6 for the Devils. The emergence of Zach Parise showed the Devils have two good scoring lines. The question is which Brodeur will we see and can New Jersey handle the deep Ottawa offense?
Key Players: NJ: Zach Parise
OTT: All of their forwards
Prediction: Ottawa in 7