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Great Playoff Debate: 2011 Conference Semifinals

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Panthers broadcasters Steve Goldstein (FSN Florida) and Randy Moller (560 WQAM) are back for their fourth go around to break down the Playoffs series all the way until the Stanley Cup. The two will each pick a winner for each series and why they think that team will win. There will of course be some jawing, but all in good fun.

Randy Moller: I went 7-1 in the fist round thank you very much!

Steve Goldstein: I could've picked the favorites like my buddy Moles and gone 7-1 in first round selections. But I take risks, walk on the wild side and won't take the favorites just because. With that said here are my not so likely to happen selections for the second round.

Eastern Conference
The Lightning's Steve Stamkos & Capitals' Alex Ovechkin

(#1) Washington vs (#5) Tampa Bay

Randy Moller - The Capitals were 4-1-1 vs the Lightning this year, but you can throw that out the window. Dwayne Roloson in goal for Tampa? Yes, he was the big factor in the Bolts first-round win over the banged up Penguins. Can the Lightning’s 1-3-1 neutral zone trap frustrate Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals? Steven Stamkos cannot wait until game-5 to score in this series. The Caps without All-Star Mike Green is a big concern. Michal Neuvirth will steal two games in goal for Washington...Washington in 6.

Steve Goldstein - The Capitals have been my pick from the start of the season and their first round win over the Rangers did nothing to alarm me. In fact, just the opposite. Washington can now win the low scoring, tight checking games that are what playoff hockey is all about. Alex Ovechkin Is hot right now and deadline pickup Jason Arnott has come up big. Tampa is rising high after a thrilling rally from 3-1 down in the series to beat the Penguins. The caps are obsessed with the cup however and after close games early in the series, the Caps will break loose. Washington in 6.

The Bruins' Patrice Bergeron and Flyers' Mike Richards
(#2) Philadelphia vs (#3) Boston

Goldstein - The rematch of the greatest playoff collapse in sports history is on. The Bruins led three games to none against Philadelphia in the Conference Semifinals last season. They also led 3-0 in game 4. You know the rest. It will be a back and forth series this time but with the same result. Danny Briere is blistering and the Flyers have enough firepower and toughness to overcome obvious weaknesses in goal. Boston came through in game 7 in the first round but I still think they lack that killer instinct...Philly in 7.

Moller - The most physical series of the second round will start in Philly. Is Chris Pronger’s wrist/hand healthy enough for a 7-game series? The Flyers Brian Boucher must be series MVP in goal for them to advance. Former Panther Nathan Horton has upped his play, and along with ageless wonder Mark Recchi, give the Bruins secondary scoring. Flyers captain Mike Richards will be the difference in this battle...Philadelphia in 7.

Western Conference

The Predators' Shea Weber & Pekka Rinne and Canucks' Henrik Sedin
(#1) Vancouver vs (#5) Nashville

Moller - Goaltending will again be in the spotlight as two of the regular season’s best go head to head. The Predators Pekka Rinne is the best goaltender in the world that nobody outside of Tennessee knows about. His goals against average ballooned in the first round win over the Ducks of Anaheim, but he made the saves when counted on. Jordin Tootoo has re-found his offense and Shea Weber is a Norris candidate on the blueline. Nobody outworks the Predators but the much more skillful Vancouver Canucks will dominate on the power play. The Sedin twins (Daniel and Henrik), Ryan Kesler, plus first round hero Alex Burrows should tip the scales in the Canucks way...Vancouver in 6.

Goldstein - Here I go out on a limb again so Moller will have the edge in correct selections. The Blackhawks nearly did it last round. This time the pesky Predators get it done. That buleline led by Shea Weber and Ryan Suter is the the NHL's  best. They will neutralize the Canucks vaunted offense and the press, no-name forwards will score just enough. Smashville turns the playoffs upside-down with a spot in the West finals...Nashville in 7.

The Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg and Sharks' Patrick Marleau
(#2) San Jose vs (#3) Detroit

Goldstein - Not sure why, but like Vancouver, I'm going against San Jose for the second time in a row. Love the way Pavel Datsyuk is playing and the Wings are well rested. This series will have lots of scoring and Jimmy Howard will be just a bit better than Antii Niemi in net. Hockeytown holds off the Sharks...Detroit in 5.

Moller - Home ice advantage will mean nothing in this series as these two clubs meet for the fifth time in post season play. The Sharks took three of four from the Wings in the regular season, but if superstars Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen come back from their injuries, Detroit will match up well against the Sharks “big 3” of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, and Patrick Marleau. San Jose’s suspect blue line will be exposed...Detroit in 7.
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