TCL Staff Predictions: Round 2

With the first round in the books, TCL and its bloggers looks ahead to the second round. We will have plenty of coverage for the Canadiens, Canucks, Bruins and Flyers, but of course, just like any true hockey fan, we will be keeping an eye on every series.

To guide you through this second round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, TCL has compiled the predictions of 12 of its bloggers, up from last round's 10. Checkers makes his return to predict the forthcoming round, and we will give you all the details on each series.

But before we get to next round's predictions, here's a look at how each blogger did in their first round predictions.

You can find the Eastern conference predictions here, and the Western conference predictions here.

FIRST ROUND RESULTS

The TCL staff swept the Pens and Sharks series' clean, with 4 bloggers picking each series perfectly in 6 games. Nine of 10 picked the Canucks to win, with 7 picking them in a perfect 6 games. The Hawks were close behind with 8 right predictions (5 perfect), and the Wings were next with 7 of 10 with 2 perfect scores. NO ONE picked the Canadiens over the Capitals, and only 2 people predicted victories from the Flyers and Bruins.

Checkers the Cat didn't have a good round, picking only 2 series correctly, but he picked both with the right amount of matches.

The best bloggers were George Prax (2 perfect), Wally Brennan (one perfect) and James Zilling (one perfect), picking 6 of 8 series correctly. The best correct-to-perfect percentages belonged to Phil Yoe (4 perfect, 5 correct), Rob McGowan and Scott Lowe (both picking 3 for 4).

The staff will try to up these percentages in round 2, with the additions of James Edington and Ron Guillet making their picks.

So without further adieu, here are the staff's round 2 predictions, including analysis from several of our bloggers!

-----------------------------

ROUND 2 PREDICTIONS

SERIES 1: San Jose Sharks (1) vs. Detroit Red Wings (85)

Regular Season Records: Sharks - 51-20-11 113pts; Red Wings 44-24-14 102pts
TCL Consensus pick: NO CONCENSUS

We all know that the Red Wings are above their 5th place seeding, but are they above the 1st place San Jose Sharks, no matter what their playoff reputation has become? These two teams are arguably evenly match, and as the predictions show, we may not see the result coming.

Newman: This is going to be a great series. I think San jose will finally break through and the Wings will run out of gas. Thornton, Marleau and Heatley will have to step up for this to happen but I think it is going to happen.

Patrick Storto: n my opinion, this is not the Sharks team of years past. The reaction in the first round from fans and 'experts' that the Sharks were 'choking' yet again was way over dramatic. The Red Wings of course are never a push over, but they are not what they were. Howard has been good in goal, but again he is just a rookie. The Red Wings had a lot of trouble getting through the Coyotes, they won't get through the Sharks.

Jim Zilling Jr.: I think Detroit learned a lot about themselves last round and I look to them to play very well this round against a very good San Jose team. Both teams were well tested in Round one and I expect a very hard fought battle. Hopefully, for San Jose the big three will finally show up and produce for them.

Rob McGowan: I had a feeling that the San Jose 'Choke Artists' were going to be able to defeat the very young and inexperienced Avalance for that one reason alone. Had they played a more well-rounded team, the Sharks wouldn't be in this conversation right now. But like I just said, the Sharks are not known for their playoff runs and I fully expect them to lose to the Detroit Red Wings in 6 games. (On a side note, I was very disappointed that the Yotes couldn't advance...but the fans in Phoenix should be very proud of what their team accomplished)

Scott Lowe: The monkey is off the back of the Sharks, so they should play free and easy at least in the first couple of games. Detroit, on the other hand, may have an early letdown after a tough series vs. Phoenix. Still, the Wings are a group of veteran winners that play very well with their backs against the wall and seem oblivious to the pressure. They will rally to win in seven.

James Edington: If the Sharks can get any early lead that will give them a certain momentum and drive,which could benefit San Jose. Dertroit are a much older team going 7 games against the Yotes may have caused some fatigue.Also the Sharks really need to prove the doubters wrong.

George Prax: Our first round surprise was the Flyers walking all over the Devils. Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that this series will be the second big surprise. While there's no doubt in a lot of people's minds that the Wings can beat the Sharks, I don't think many expect them to walk all over them. But I think the Sharks' true colors will once again show in this series, and they will be out in 5 games.

------------------------------------

SERIES 2: Chicago Blackhawks (2) vs. Vancouver Canucks (3)

Where to follow: Canucks - Phil Y, James Edington
Regular Season Records: Blackhawks - 52-22-8 112pts; Canucks - 49-28-5 103pts
TCL Consensus pick: Canucks in 7

A rematch from last year's second round battle, the Canucks and Blackhawks go at it yet again. The rivalry between these two teams has intensified over the last year, and it is sure to get even more heated when they take to the ice this weekend, with a berth in the conference finals on the line!

Newman: As much as it pains me to say this, I think Vancouver could win this series. It is going to be extremely tight but the X factor will be Luongo and he will outperform Niemi in this series. Both have a lot of scoring power, but I think Vancouver will squeak this one out.

Patrick Storto: The Blackhawks received a huge wake up call in the first round, finding it more difficult than they had hoped to get through the Preds. The Canucks have their world class player in Luongo in goal, while the Blackhawks have a rookie in Antti Niemi. To be fair, Niemi had a better first round than Luongo, but in a head to head series, I'll take Luongo over the rookie every time. Let's not forget that the Canucks also have the Art Ross trophy winner in Henrik Sedin as well as his brother Daniel who can be just as good. The Hawks do have a good leader in Jonathan Toews, but he is still a very young student of the game. The Blackhawk's time is coming, but it isn't this year. They'll push the series and the Canucks to the limit, but in the end I think the Canucks will prevail.

Jim Zilling Jr.: I believe Chicago will win this series. I believe that the first round scared this team a little and they realized finally what they need to do to be successful. Vancouver will be no cake walk though. They are very tough especially with the Sedin twins and Luongo in net. Vancouver struggled on the pk in round one vs Los Angeles and I look for Chicago to take advantage of a weak pk.

Rob McGowan: This may be one of the more exciting offensive match-ups of the playoffs. If Kane can keep rolling and the Hawks can find a way to get Toews on the score-sheet more often, they might be able to get passed the Canucks. However, Luongo has been playing better than Niemi. For example, just look at that glove save he had on Smyth in the game where the Kings were eliminated. If the Hawks' goaltending can withstand the pressure, they might be able to make it to the Conference finals (and I hope they do). But don't be surprised to see this series go the other way.

Scott Lowe: Both the Canucks and Blackhawks seemed to get their games on track as their first-round series went on, but I think that Nashville exposed enough weaknesses in Chicago's game for Vancouver to exploit. Although Luongo has been up and down, there is motivation for him to prove the naysayers wrong, and he has the weight of the first round off of his shoulders. I like him in the matchup vs. Niemi, and I think Vancouver's vetran experience and skill will put alot of pressure on the Hawks' D and allow the Canucks to win in six.

James Edington: I don't feel to optimistic about this series, if players like Bernier Welwood Demitra, as well as the sedins and co,are able to produce offensively and Edler and Ehrhoff play well then the Canucks can beat the Hawks. Without those players all contributing I think the Hawks can potentially make mincemeat of Vancouver. I think Hawks win in game 7. Hope I am very wrong.

George Prax: The Canucks were my pick to win it all since the very beginning and I'm sticking to it. While the Hawks match up very well with them, I feel like Vancouver has the most complete team amongst those left in the playoffs. Solid on D, one of the best goaltenders in the league and explosive, complete offense that can also play well defensively. They have a gold medalist on their team, a silver medalist AND a bronze medalist from the Olympics, the art ross winner and Hart candidate, and a Selke finalist. What other team can boast such a deep line-up?

------------------------------------

SERIES 3: Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (8)

Where to follow: Canadiens - George Prax, Habs Laughs
Regular Season Records: Penguins - 47-28-7 101pts; Canadiens - 39-33-10 88pts
TCL Consensus pick: Canucks in 6

The Montreal Canadiens are coming off one of the biggest upsets in NHL history. Unfortunately for them, waiting in line to face them are the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Things won't get any easier for the Habs in the next round, but at the same time, if the Penguins have learned anything from both their experience in the last two years as well as watching the Canadiens defeat the Capitals, it's never take an opponent lightly.

Newman: I dont really know what to think after watching Montreal oust Washington. But I think the magical run comes to an end in this series. What Washington lacked in goaltending, the Penguins have in MAF. Halak will possibly steal a game or two for the Habs but I think the Pens are too strong.

Patrick Storto: Halak will win the Habs a couple of games in this series, but make no mistake, the Penguins are not the Capitals. The defending Stanley Cup Champs will cut through the Habs like a knife through cheese. Don't get me wrong, I respect the Habs for what they were able to accomplish, knocking off the top seed, but at the end of the day, the Capitals are pretenders, the Penguins are obviously contenders.

Jim Zilling Jr.: I believe Montreal will give Pittsburgh a very tough series. They showed that they are extremely hungry and are really play strong as a whole team. If Halak continues to play the way he did in the first round this team will win the series and advance to the conference finals. Look for this to be a hard fought series.

Rob McGowan: All I can say is WOW. I did not expect the Habs to be able to take the Caps out of the playoffs. And if you think about it, they didn't. Jaroslav Halak almost single handedly shut down the most threatening offense in the league and put up one of the best post-season performances of all time. If he can sustain his play through the next round, there's no doubt in my mind that the Habs can make it to the Conference finals. BUT, can they get passed Sidney, Malkin and Fleury?

Scott Lowe: Would love to see the Habs pull this one off, but I feel like they had to give so much go get through Round 1 that it may be tough. That, paired with the fact that the Pens don't mind doing whatever it takes to succeed this time of year, unlike a team I just covered for seven painful games, will be touch for the habs to overcome.

James Edington:For the Habs to win this round Halak will have to be a wall in net again,but I think Crosby Malkin and co will prove to be to much for Halak and his team mates.I hope the Habs can pull it of but I think the Pens win 4-2.

George Prax: For the second series in the row, the Canadiens will have to fight tooth and nail to get anything from their opponents. The difference is, the Pens are a much more complete team than the Capitals were. I think the Habs still have some fight in them, but unfortunately, not enough to take down the defending Stanley Cup Champs, especially when they've had a few extra days of rest and preparation.

------------------------------------

SERIES 4: Boston Bruins (6) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (7)

Where to Follow: Bruins - Walter Brennan; Flyers - Jim Zilling Jr.
Regular Season Records: Bruins - 39-30-13 91pts; Flyers - 41-35-6 88pts
TCL Consensus pick: NONE

Raise your hand if you saw this playoff series coming. We didn't think so. Raise your hand if you thought the results of the final week of the regular season would have had this specific impact on home ice advantage? We didn't think so either. Nevertheless, two of the toughest teams, injuries or not, deficiencies or not, are gearing up for what could be one of the hardest hitting series we've seen in a long time.

Newman: I am not sure many people would have predicted this match-up in the second round, and the fact that one of these teams will vy for the Eastern Conference is a little mind boggling. Both teams qualified for the playoffs in the last weekend of the season; maybe that is the reason they were both so ready. I am giving the edge to Boston in this one though.

Patrick Storto: At the end of the day, I usually go with experience, especially in goal. In this case, Brian Boucher surprisingly enough has the edge when it comes to experience against the Bruins rookie netminder in Tuukka Rask. The Flyers also have a key playoff performer in Chris Pronger who already has 5 points in 5 playoff games.

Jim Zilling Jr.: I don't know why I really picked the Flyers. It might be because of how they beat New Jersey. They showed that they are a very hungry team and can really play very good hockey. This is the best hockey that I've seen the Flyers play since the Olympic break and maybe the best hockey they have played all season long. The loss of Gagne, Carter, and Laperriere are huge, but I believe this team will over come these injuries and advance

Rob McGowan: This is going to be a series of size vs size. Both teams do have skilled players, but they also have relatively inexperienced goaltenders. Boucher has been around for a while but hasn't had this much responsibility on him in his career. However, he has handled it pretty well so far, having knocked out the future hall-of-famer, Martin Brodeur. But the Bruins pulled the only upset that I had in my first round predictions and I expect them to find a way to get passed Phili.

Scott Lowe:While I'm sure Savard will be eased into the lineup, his return will be an emotional and offensive/skill boost for the B's. Philly has been doing it with mirrors, and their injuries combined with what I see as a goaltending mismatch (despite Boucher's strong play to date) will make it tough. Still I see them grinding out two wins before falling in six.

James Edington:The Flyers could struggle without Carter, an Gagne, but the team dealt with a host of injuries during the season and still beat the Devils as an underdog. As crazy as it may see I think the Flyers win in 6.

George Prax: I don't know who to root for in this series. Arguably the two most hated teams if you're a Habs fan, and one of them has to advance to the finals of the conference. Nevertheless, it will be a fun series to watch, with a lot of hard hitting and a lot of action. Few people believed in the Flyers last round, but I was one of them. I'm going to stick with them, their grit, and their ability to seemingly replace any injured player, and pick them to take this one in a hard-fought 7 game series.

------------------------------------

We will have ongoing coverage of all the series in the second round, including blogs, articles, and live blogs! So stay tuned to TCL, and tell us what you think of our predictions!

TCL Staff