Round Two – Top Seeds All Move On
In a rare occurrence, all the top seeds have moved on to the second round of the greatest sporting tournament on the planet. The top three seeds in each conference defeated their lower seeded challengers, denying the customary spring upset of a top seed …. A few close calls were had, namely the Canucks, Bruins and Flyers all being an overtime goal away from elimination …. But in the end, no upsets took place in round one. For the record, a 5 seed beating a 4 seed is not an upset, so the Predators and Lightning do not get special praise for some glorious achievement ….
Regarding the plethora of folks already proclaiming their Conn Smythe winners, Open Ice Hitter will wait until a more reasonable time to start that conversation ….. and that will be halfway through the Conference Finals … After correctly picking 7 of 8 first round series, here is what the second round should bring ….
CANUCKS vs PREDATORS - After a nerve wracking and perilous opening series against arch rival and nemesis Chicago, Vancouver now face Barry Trotz and the Predators, who are in the second round for the first time in franchise history… On paper, Vancouver has a decided edge everywhere but in net. The Canucks should win this series, thanks to the depth and grit added by Mike Gillis, but that depth and grit went missing a few times against Chicago …. The two guys brought in at the 11th hour, Lapierre and Higgins, have been exactly what Gillis was looking for. D-men Hamhuis and Ballard have been hit and miss …. Though Pekka Rinne will take Luongo to school in this series, the Canucks will move on … CANUCKS IN FIVE
SHARKS vs RED WINGS - San Jose easily dispatched Detroit last year, but that will change this time around. The Sharks have a shaky goalie, and the Wings have their act together a bit better this time around. Nik Lidstrom will keep the Wings steady during a series win …. RED WINGS IN SIX
CAPITALS vs LIGHTNING - Tampa rallied to oust the Penguins, and have some solid players on the roster, but Washington have focused this year solely on the post season. They will not hold back. Roloson has been decent for Tampa, but he is now set to face a serious amount of rubber. Stamkos has not been the same since January, and though Martin St Louis puts his heart into every shift, Tampa will hit the wall in this series … CAPITALS IN FIVE
FLYERS vs BRUINS - A rematch of last years epic comeback by Philly, or collapse by the Bruins, however you want to look at it …. The Bruins have made some changes to the roster, and here is where they will be tested. Tim Thomas will be the most important Bruin, after having stolen a few games for Boston against Philly in the regular season …. For the Flyers, they need better goaltending than they had in round 1, but they have Boston topped everywhere else. They will have to neutralize big Lucic like they did to finish the series last year, but in the end, the Flyers look to be finding their game, and will be too much for Boston ….. FLYERS IN SIX