The first round is over, and everything went according to plan.  Well, if the plan was to have multiple upsets, then it went as predicted.

All things considered, it actually did go as I had predicted several weeks ago, give or take a series or two.  I told you at that time that the NHL playoffs are the most difficult playoffs to predict, which last year’s results clearly demonstrated.

So we shouldn’t be all that surprised that there were a few upsets in round one.  The fact that I called a couple of them makes me feel a little bit better about the overall situation.

In the Western Conference, only the #1 seed Chicago Blackhawks was a victorious top seed, taking out the Minnesota Wild in five games.  The #2 Anaheim Ducks lost in seven games to the #7 Detroit Red Wings, the #3 Vancouver Canucks were swept by the #6 San Jose Sharks and the #4 St. Louis Blues lost in six games to the #5 Los Angeles Kings.

I must admit, I feel pretty good about calling two of those three upsets.  Leave it to Detroit to blow my perfect record in the west.  The Red Wings are the NHL’s version of the Yankees or Cowboys.  You know what I mean.  You either love them or hate them.  There’s no in-between.

Let’s just say that my allegiances to all three of those teams are in the same neighborhood!

In the Eastern Conference, I wasn’t as fortunate with my choices.  I only picked two out of four series correctly.  The #2 and #3 seeds were both taken down in round one.  Naturally, I didn’t pick either one!

The #1 Pittsburgh Penguins took care of the #8 N.Y. Islanders in six games.  The #2 Montreal Canadiens were upset in a dominating fashion, losing to the #7 Ottawa Senators in five games.  The #6 N.Y. Rangers took out the #3 Washington Capitals in seven games, while the #4 Boston Bruins had to come from behind to beat the #5 Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime of game seven.

So now we move on to the second round.  Do we stick with the favorites at this point?  Do we even know who the favorites are?  After all, this is hockey.  Home ice advantage is a myth.  It comes down to hard hitting, lots of speed and acrobatic goalies.

Similar to last season, several of the top four seeds are already on the golf course (five out of eight, to be exact)!

Well, let’s jump in with both feet and take a shot with the second round predictions.

We’ll start in the east.  I have a hard time picking a #7 seed over the top dogs, or Penguins in this case.  There is just too much talent on the Pittsburgh team to think they’ll let down their guard.  The fact that they now have a dominating goalie in the net helps, too.  Pittsburgh wins in five games.

The other eastern matchup should be a great series.  In a battle of original six teams, there should be plenty of hard hits and a hand full of fights, even if there isn’t much scoring.  Ultimately, the Bruins will prevail, possibly in another overtime game, taking the series in seven games.

In the Western Conference, the battles will be just as physical and the scoring will be just as low.  Like in the east, I can’t bring myself to bet against the #1 seed Chicago Blackhawks.  However, they are going to battle against the Detroit Red Wings, so you can never count them out.  With two pretty good goalies in the net, the high powered offenses will be held in check.  Ultimately, there is just two much fire power in the Blackhawk lineup to be held down for the entire series.  Chicago wins it in seven games.

Last, but definitely not least, we have the defending champions L.A. Kings taking on the San Jose Sharks.  Last season, the Kings grabbed the #8 seed to make the playoffs, and then proceeded to shut everyone down, finishing with a 16-4 playoff record and the Stanley Cup.  This year, they come in as a #5 seed, and appear to be positioned to make a similar trek through the league.

The Sharks may have a thing or two to say about that.  They beefed up their lineup, enabling them to match up well against the Kings big bruisers.  This series may actually have the best goalie matchup of the playoffs, with LA’s Quick going against San Jose’s Niemi, two of the stingiest goalies in the league.

Look for this series to last a while.  In the end, I’m sticking with the Kings.  LA wins it in seven games.

So there you have it.  If all goes according to plan, we’ll have two #1 seeds in the conference finals.  Then again, this is hockey.

So which number one seed do you think will fall first?



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