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Stanley Cup Semi Finals

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Contributor:
Scott Newman
Scott Newman

The Stanley Cup playoffs have been very exciting and unpredictable thus far. Who would have thought that the Montreal Canadiens would oust the President Trophy winners the Washington Capitals! Two series went to seven games with the Habs and Red Wings prevailing both being the road team. Each series has been very hard fought with a lot of surprises in the Eastern Conference. Now the contest gets even fiercer in the Semi Finals!

WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMI FINALS

 
1. San Jose Sharks 51-20-11 - 113 points vs. 5. Detroit Red Wings 44-24-14 - 102 points
 
Matchup:
Firstly, the Sharks looked shaky in their series against the Avalanche. They got the job done with a better offence and with Pavelski emerging as a big time player as he has all season including during the Olympics. The top three (Heatley, Thornton & Marleau) are yet to make a big impact and will need to against the Red Wings as they are way too experienced in comparison to the Av’s. This team has a lot to prove in the playoffs.
 
The Red Wings had it tough against a resilient Coyotes team who pushed the seventh game. All of the top players experience was called upon to get the job done and they looked good doing it. The big time players are ready to go and they look as though nothing really phases them either being behind in a game or leading. They look really good.
 
Top Scorers:
Sharks – Joe Pavelski 5G 3A 8P, Ryane Clowe 1G 7A 8P, Dan Boyle 2G 4A 6P
 
Red Wings – Henrik Zetterberg 6G 5A 11P, Pavel Datsyuk 5G 3A 8P, Johan Franzen 1G 6A 7P
 
Goaltenders:
Sharks – Evgeni Nabokov 1.76 GAA .930 SV% 1 SO
 
Red Wings – Jimmy Howard 2.59 GAA .920 SV% 1 SO
 
Prediction:
The Sharks have home ice and have been dominant in the Shark Tank. The Red Wings are really equipped, focused and experienced. This will be a high scoring series. Special teams will be an interesting matchup and could tell the tale.
 
Detroit Red Wings in 6 Games
 
 
2. Chicago Blackhawks 52-22-08 - 112 points vs. 3. Vancouver Canucks 49-28-05 – 103 points
 
Matchup:
This will be a rematch of last season’s semi final matchup. The Blackhawks were victorious last time by getting under Luongo’s skin. They will look to do the same again. Lu said to Patrick Kane at the Olympics “see you in the playoffs” now it is time. The hawks took out the Predators who were too thin up front to really trouble the speedy team. They are looking really strong and having learned a lot from the last post season they are looking like genuine contenders.
 
The Canucks were pushed hard as expected by the young Kings. The big time offensive output shined from the likely top players in the Canucks team which made the difference. Lu was shaky but turned it all around for his team in the series. This is going to be a big physical series which will result in a lot of penalties. It will be telling in how the Canucks deal with their emotions in what will be a long series.
 
Top Scorers:
Blackhawks – Jonathan Toews 2G 6A 8P, Patrick Kane 3G 4A 7P, Marian Hossa 1G 6A 7P
 
Canucks – Mikael Samuelsson 7G 4A 11P, Daniel Sedin 4G 6A 10P, Henrik Sedin 1G 7A 8P
 
Goaltenders:
Blackhawks – Antti Niemi 2.15 GAA .920 SV% 2 SO
 
Canucks – Roberto Luongo 2.92 GAA .890 SV% 0 SO
 
Prediction:
Both of these teams want this so much. They were leaders of the Western Conference for parts of the season and are very good in their own buildings. It is set to be an offensive series with fast paced puck moving action. I am looking forward to this series and think it may be the best series of the round.
 
Chicago Blackhawks in 7 Games
 
 
 
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMI FINALS
 
4. Pittsburgh Penguins 47-28-07 - 101 points vs. 8. Montreal Canadiens 39-33-10 - 88 points
 
Matchup:
Sidney Crosby is truly looking like leading his team straight back to the Eastern Final. They found it difficult to contain the enthusiasm of the Senators but somehow found a way to win in their building being down three goals. They are proving that they can come back from behind and steal games. Marc-Andre Fleury just needs to do his job and they have a shot every night. The team is coming together nicely. Now they play the biggest surprise of the first round.
 
The Habs have found a way to succeed in the playoffs again and it is not in Patrick Roy. His name is Jaroslav Halak. He looked great in the Olympics and unbelievable in the Capitals series. The Habs of old may be back. Now they have playoff experience in Gomez, Gionta, Hamrlik, Spacek and Gill. They need to back up their performance against the Caps and show up against the Penguins. It will not be easy. They need to believe in the home of hockey Montreal.
 
Top Scorers:
Penguins – Sidney Crosby 5G 9A 14P, Evgeni Malkin 4G 4A 8P, Sergei Gonchar 0G 6A 6P
 
Canadiens – Michael Cammalleri 5G 5A 10P, Tomas Plekanec 4G 3A 7P, Andrei Kostitsyn 3G 3A 6P
 
Goaltenders:
Penguins – Marc-Andre Fleury 2.75 GAA .890 SV% 0 SO
 
Canadiens – Jaroslav Halak 2.46 GAA .940 SV% 0 SO
 
Prediction:
I want to believe that Halak will stand on his head again and help the Habs through to the Eastern Conference final in a Cinderella run. But I just can’t see Sidney Crosby coming out flat in this one at all. It will be a tough series as Montreal blocked so many shots they have the heart to go on. I like this matchup and feel this will be a thriller if it goes long.
 
Pittsburgh Penguins in 6 Games
 
 
6. Boston Bruins 39-30-13 - 91 points vs. 7. Philadelphia Flyers 41-35-06 - 88 points
 
Matchup:
The Bruins did really well in beating the Sabres in the quarters. It was an upset as Miller had been playing so well all season. As the series showed offence was thin. Goaltending was premium. Big game players needed to come out and they did for the Bruins. With Marc Savard coming back they have their top playmaker ready to go. They need all the contributions they can get especially in special teams. The goaltending match up should be good.
 
How do you stop the Flyers from flying high? They made short work of the Devils which shocked me. This is an excellent chance for the Flyers to return to the Eastern Final and they know it. They have a good roster full of experience and depth. If Boucher comes to the party as well then they have a good all around chance. I just think having Chris Pronger on this team alone gives them a mighty good run. This series will be a rough one and that is a certainty.
 
Top Scorers:
Bruins – Miroslav Satan 2G 3A 5P, Mark Recchi 3G 2A 5P, Patrice Bergeron 2G 3A
5P
 
Flyers – Mike Richards 2G 6A 8P, Claude Giroux 4G 2A 6P, Chris Pronger 2G 3A 5P
 
Goaltenders:
Bruins – Tuukka Rask 2.18 GAA .930 SV% 0 SO
 
Flyers – Brian Boucher 1.59 GAA .940 SV% 1 SO
 
Prediction:
This is the fairest matchup in my opinion. I know that the Flyers have a lot more up front but I feel the Bruins are going to play their best hockey all season in this series. Chara is going to need to be Huge as he is in real life and take control. There are going to be close games in this series and I hope it to be as exciting as the hockey I’ve watched so far.
 
Philadelphia Flyers in 6 Games
 
 
 
STANLEY CUP PREDICTION
I needed to update my prediction for the Eastern Conference as I was very wrong! West is fine. I now choose the Detroit Red Wings to win the cup in a three times running Stanley Cup final with the Pittsburgh Penguins!
 
Western Final - Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings
 
Eastern Final – Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
 
Stanley Cup Final – Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings
 
Stanley Cup Winner – DETROIT RED WINGS in 7 Games
 

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