NHL Series Round 2 Picks

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Updated: May 1, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 5.48.11 PMBy Orion Grove (Twitter: @OvG_)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, no I’m not talking about Christmas; I’m talking about the NHL playoffs. Beards will grow, dream with be shattered, and at the end of it all, someone will be crowned the 2014 Stanley Cup Champions. Let’s break down the second round starting with the East.

 

Montreal Canadians (+200) VS Boston Bruins (-240)

Boston_Bruins_Montreal_CanadiensTwo of the original six teams in the NHL will meet in the 2014 playoffs for the 34th Playoff history. During the regular season, the Canadians won three out of four with the Bruins, with two of those W’s at the Garden. The past seven times these two teams played, the Habs have won six. Should the Bruins be worried? Well, that’s a possibility considering out of the 33 series played between these two franchises, the Habs have won 24 times with 102 out of 170 games being playoff games.

Bostons Tuuka Rask looked outstanding in the first round, allowing only five goals against Detroit, producing a .961 save percentage, averaging only 1.16 goal against average (GAA). IF Boston’s defense can continue (like they been doing all season) to push the opponents forwards to the wings, making it almost impossible to get a goal on net, the Canadians might be in some trouble. Boston has struggled with the power play all season long, but the series with Detroit they went 6-for-16 on the man advantage which is s positive improvement. Boston developed a high-low approach on the power play against Detroit that helped Boston show its versatility to move the puck and get shots on goal. Shots on net equals rebounds, which rebounds equal goals.

The Canadians completed the sweep against Tampa bay scoring 16 goals in just four games, but Tampa Bay didn’t have their No.1 goalie, Bishop due to an injury. The Habs ability to share the puck produced 10 different skaters with a goal against Tampa Bay. Although Montreal leads the all-time series between the two franchises, this will be a different series in my opinion. Montreal’s first line will be the force to be reckon with in order to hang with the Boston’s defense. Montreal strength lies with their experience, and their ability to play physical defense with a stellar P.K… Montreal’s goalie, Price holds a 2.33 GAA, and a .904 save percentage in the four games with Tampa Bay. Price will have to have a better performance with the Bruins (which he has had success in doing, holding a 2.50 GAA and .919 Save percentage) to hold off the 2011 Stanley Cup champions.

Special teams will be the difference in this series. With the improved power play from the Bruins in the first round, and the Canadians finishing the season on a 0-23 power play drought, and only going 2-for-13 in round one, watch out for the Bruins to take the series and advance.

Prediction: Boston Bruins in 6 games

 

Pittsburgh Penguins (-160) VS New York Rangers (+130)

New_York_Rangers_Pittsburgh_PenguinsPittsburgh had their hands full against a physical Bluejackets team in round one. IF the Rangers learned anything from the Penguin/Bluejacket series, they’ll know to play physical in order to fluster a Pittsburgh team that lacked discipline to play defense. Pittsburgh has never lost to the New York rangers in a playoff series (4-0), which Pittsburgh dominated the series winning 16 out of 20 games played. This series will comes down to the goaltenders; Marc-Andre Fluery, whom held a 4-2 record in round one producing a 2.81 GAA and .908 save percentage, and Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist who held a 4-3 record in round one with a 2.11 GAA and .919 save percentage. Fluery looked horrible in the first couple games, but he managed to build some confidence in game 5. Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh didn’t score one goal, which struck up the rumor he might be playing with an unknown injury. Columbus harassed him every games, but he’s supposed to be the best player in the world. Pittsburgh became complacent when they held a lead (period 3; game 6 for an example) in the first round, they’ll have to play 60 minutes, and Malkin and Crosby will have to be…well, Malkin and Crosby.

New York are a bunch of Kamikaze old fashion hockey players, that block shooting lanes, and risk their bodies just to block that shooting lane. They lead the playoffs with an average of 18 blocks a game. The difference between Pittsburgh and New York is that New York’s 3rd goals. If New York can continue their dominance in their 3rd end.

I think this game will come down to physical play and the winning battle between the 3rd If Crosby can wake up, and Malkin plays like he did in game 6 of the first round, I’d say Pittsburgh wins, BUT I am not sold on Pitts complacency and lack of discipline to play defense. These two teams split two games in the regular season, but I think New York comes out victorious in the post season.

Prediction: New York Ranger in 6 games

 

Anaheim Ducks (-120) VS LA Kings (-110)

anaheim_duck_la_kingsThe LA Kings were the fourth team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit in the playoffs, knocking off the San Jose Sharks. I’d say their pretty confident coming into these series against the Ducks. This will be the first time these two teams meet in the post season. With both teams being in Southern California, and the Kings averaging 47 hits a game, this will be a SO CAL, physical play showdown! The Ducks hold a 4-0-1 regular season edge over the Kings, and they have outscored the Kings in the regular season 13-8. Well, the regular season isn’t the post season, and San Jose will have to step up defensively to contend with L.A.. San Jose allowed 3 goals in each game, and their only averaging 27.8 shots on goal per game. The Ducks have to know this will be a physical game, and they can’t allow frustration to retaliate against a team that would rather hit you than score a goal. Ducks Goalie, Freferick Anderson, whom holds a 3-2 round one record with a 3.40 GAA, and .892 save percentage was pulled twice, and back up Jonas Hiller got some post-season play. LA counters with Jonathan Quick, who holds a 4-3 record, 3.10 GAA, and .914 save percentage. The Kings obviously have a better goaltender, whom is an Olympian, and a 2010 Stanley cup champion. The Ducks are dealing with a rookie. The Kings will have to get into the Ducks zone, get traffic in front of the rookie, and just produce shots on goal. Physical play by the Kings will frustrate the Ducks, and LA moves on to meet Chicago.

 Prediction: LA Kings in 5 games

 

Chicago Blackhawk (-250) vs Minnesota Mild (+200)

chicago_blackhawk_minesota_wildFor round one, I said Colorado was going to beat Minnesota, and Minnesota was only going to win one game. My reason? Minnesota was bi-polar on scoring. Well, they obviously took their medicine, and upset Colorado in seven with their offense scoring rather easily and scoring when needed. The Wild won the season series 3-1-1, but the Hawks outscored the wild 15-14. Minnesota has two goalies, Kuemper (3-1, 2.03 GAA, .913 save percentage), and Bryzgalov (1-2, 4.25 GAA, .826 save percentage), The Stanley Cup champs counter with Corey Crawford (4-2, 1.98 GAA, .935 Save percentage). The Wild is unclear who will be starting behind the net in game one at the United Center, but the Hawks have the advantage behind the net. Home Ice advantage spoke volumes in the STL/Chicago Series, and if Chicago can win one game in Minnesota, this series will be cut short for Minnesota. The Hawks, without a doubt has a deeper offense, and a way to manipulate the Hawks is to take advantage of their 3rd line. The Wild produced a lot of production from all their lines, which Colorado ultimately couldn’t maintain. With the first two games being at the United Center, and Chicago playing mid-season Hockey, Minnesota will have to win one game at the Madhouse to have a chance.

Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks in 5 games

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