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Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions: Round 2

by Photo of Gil Santos

These are our picks for the upcoming Conference Semi-Final match-ups.

Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions: Round 2

Hockey fans were treated to a first round of epic proportions. There was a record-setting 10 multi-goal comebacks in the first round. Also, we received the annual triple overtime game on the second day of the post-season. We got three Game 7s on the same day for the first time since April 22, 2003. And oh yeah, we witnessed history when the Los Angeles Kings became the fourth team in NHL postseason history to claw out of a 3-0 hole and win their series. It's going to be hard for the second round to top that, but it should be exciting to watch nevertheless. Ahead of the start of the Conference Semi-finals, here are our predictions on who will advance: 

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens

Both teams looked real good in their first round match-ups and should be well-rested in a series that should be an absolute blood bath. The Bruins come in as the obvious favorite, but the Canadiens gave them a hard time in the regular season, taking 3 of the 4 contests. The Habs must use the same formula that won them those games and use their speed to break through the Bruins' stingy defense. Also, they'll need Thomas Vanek, who always been a Bruin killer with 62 points in 55 games, to produce in this series. 

On the other side, the Bruins cannot get baited into taking bad penalties. They must maintain their composure and if they do that, they will better utilize their advantage in even strength. The Tukka Rask vs. Carey Price goaltender match-up will be interesting to follow. Price will need to play some of the best games of his life and steal a game or two if the Canadiens want to make it a long series. I think it will be a tough and drawn out series, but  in the end, the Bruins should prevail. They are better in many aspects of the game and should be able to neutralize the Canadiens' speed enough to advance.

Prediction: Bruins in 7

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers

The last time these two teams met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was in 2008, where the Penguins won in five games. You can't take away much from that series as both teams are totally revamped especially the Rangers, who just have three players left from that 2008 team. Both teams survived their first round series without getting a goal from their top player. I expect that to change as both Rick Nash and Sidney Crosby played well, but puck luck was not on their side. 

It will be interesting if Penguins' head coach Dan Bylsma sticks with Evgeni Malkin on Crosby's line or bring him back down as the number 2 center. Brandon Sutter has shown his worth as the second line center, so perhaps Bylsma won't tinker with the line-up for now. Either way, the Rangers' top pair Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi will have the tough task of shutting down that Crosby line. If Malkin is on it, it'll just make the job even harder, but they did a solid job against the Flyers' Claude Giroux line. With the Penguins looking very vulnerable in the first round and the constant question mark that is Marc-Andre Fleury, the Blue Shirts should take this one. I can't bet against a team that has the much superior goaltender and the Rangers have that in Henrik Lundqvist. 

Prediction: Rangers in 6

Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild

The Wild have a chance to avenge their beat down in last year's first round against these same Blackhawks. Their confidence is sky high from their series win over the Colorado Avalanche and they should be more prepared to give a better showing this time around. However, this is the one match-up in the second round that should end quickly. The Blackhawks look like they're hitting their stride and they get the privilege of facing Wild's goaltender Illya Bryzgalov. It's a really tough draw for the Wild as they don't have the talent to match-up with the Blackhawks.. The Wild should lose in the same amount of games as last year, but the games should be a little bit more competitive. 

Prediction: Blackhawks in 5

Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings

Surprisingly, this is the first time these two California teams will square off the in the playoffs and it definitely won't be the last with the new playoff format. Despite the Ducks winning the regular season series and being the higher-seed, the Kings are superior in my eyes. The Kings answered the question whether they can score enough goals with a resounding yes against the Sharks. They also have Jonathan Quick, who looks to be back in playoff form after two terrible games.

The Ducks looked okay in their six-game series with the Dallas Stars, but they seemed to get unraveled at times because of the Stars' physicality. The Kings will bring plenty of that and more, so the Ducks will need to strengthen their composure. Their goaltending situation is still a question mark, but I think Bruce Boudreau should go with Jonas Hiller this time around. They'll need all the secondary scoring they can get because you can count on the Kings' Drew Doughty to matched up against the Getzlaf-Perry line. Home ice advantage should buy the Ducks one or two games, but I don't see this series going the distance. 

Prediction: Kings in 6

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