doesn’t quit – the unpredictable becomes reality. Who could have possibly
predicted a double sweep in the Eastern Conference? We almost had three of the
four second round series end in a sweep, until Detroit woke up in Game 4. We
thought Vancouver would be one and done in five, but then Nashville decided they
wanted one more home game.
Philadelphia became only the 3rd team in NHL history to win a series
after being down 0-3. This year, it almost happened a 4th time in
the first round between Vancouver and Chicago, and again in the second round
between San Jose and Detroit. It was only the 8th time a team down
0-3 ever came back to even force a Game 7, never mind win the series.
It seems to
me the only thing I can properly predict is my Eastern Conference Dark Horse.
Or can I? We’re about to find out.
Boston Bruins vs
Tampa Bay Lightning
You’ve heard of the Boston Tea Party? That’s why they drink coffee! (It
doesn’t say “Boston Brewin’” along the boards at center ice for nothing!)
You want a goaltender duel? You got it.
How they got here:
teams swept through their opponents in surprising, yet convincing fashion –
Tampa Bay over Washington, and Boston over Philadelphia in 4 games
Nathan Horton; Tampa Bay – Sean Bergenheim
Need to see more
Boston – Tomas Kaberle; Tampa Bay – Mike Lundin
Boston wins if:
They can get Patrice Bergeron back in their lineup. OK, so they have a pretty
good guy between the pipes in Tim Thomas, but I don’t like their chances against
this explosive Tampa offense if they can’t win any face offs. The Bergeron line
has been the one doing most of the damage throughout the playoffs. Chris Kelly
is supposed to move up and while he can more than likely fit the role nicely, he
isn’t Bergeron. I know Zdeno Chara was fighting off dehydration early on, but
even by his own admission, he needs to step it up if the Bruins want to make it
to the Finals for the first time since 1990. I think Game 4 against
Philadelphia was the first time I actually noticed he was on the ice. And for
crying out loud, Tomas Kaberle, will you shoot the puck already please!?
Tampa Bay wins if:
They keep the momentum going. Aside from Detroit, there hasn’t been a team
impress me more than the Lightning. They are firing on all cylinders, and all
of their lines and defensive pairings have bought in to Guy Boucher’s system. I
mean, seriously, who would have expected Sean Bergenheim would be the team’s top
scorer? Dwayne Roloson looks like a goaltender on a mission, and at 41, he
probably won’t get too many more opportunities. Since leaving St. Louis, Eric
Brewer looks like a new player. I guess getting a vote of confidence from
Steve Yzerman helps. Even the fourth line centered by Nate Thompson is
chipping in, and at key times. I just really like the Bolts to come out of the
East. Sorry Boston, right or wrong, I have to stick with my dark horse
Lightning in 7
vs San Jose Sharks
If a Shark bites off an Orca’s tail, will it grow back?
In their first Conference Final since 1994, the Vancouver Canucks, in their 40th
year of existence, are looking for just their 3rd ever finals
appearance, while San Jose, in their 20th year, are still looking for
their 1st trip to the final round.
How we got here:
Vancouver eliminated Nashville in 6 games; while San Jose-Detroit went the
distance, with the Sharks finally prevailing in 7
Vancouver – Ryan Kesler; San Jose – Logan Couture
Need to see more
Vancouver – The rest of the team, yes, even Roberto Luongo; San Jose – Scott
Vancouver wins if:
They can bring their game to the level that won Games 1 and 7 against Chicago in
the first round and sustain that throughout this best of 7 series. Allowing
Ryan Kesler to be “the guy” may have worked against Nashville, but it is not
going to work if the Canucks want to win a Stanley Cup.
San Jose wins if:
forget about the past and play for now. The Canucks are not the Kings or the
Red Wings. Stick with the game plan, and the Sharks can finally enter
unchartered waters. Spread out the offense more, don’t expect Joe Thornton,
Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi to do all the work. As for Antti Niemi, no
more subpar efforts, we need to see the Niemi from one year ago. The effort put
forth in Games 6 and 7 will suffice.
Sharks in 6
More Puckin' Around...