Up until the final games of the second round series between the Red Wings and the Sharks, it seemed as if the most dramatic run in sports, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, would go through its second round without any drama; both Eastern Conference series ended in sweeps, and while the Nashville Predators put up a valiant fight, the Vancouver Canucks were just too much for them. Now it’s time to Fully Recondition the second round predictions and look ahead to the Stanley Cup Conference Finals.
Grading the Second Round – The Western Conference
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (5) Nashville Predators
Prediction: Canucks in 6
Actual Result: Canucks in 6
The only correct prediction comes first in the recap. The Nashville Predators played gritty, solid defensive hockey, but were overwhelmed by a team that was simply more talented. Despite the games being tight, this series went just as it should have.
(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (3) Detroit Red Wings
Prediction: Wings in 6
Actual Result: Sharks in 7
When the Sharks took a three games to none lead to open up the series, it seemed as if this prediction could not have been more wrong. Then, the Red Wings slowly clawed their way back on the back of the magician, Pavel Datsyuk and a breakout series from defenseman Niklas Kronwall. Alas, the comeback was not to be, as the Sharks eked the series out and held off their reputation as chokers for at least one more round.
Western Conference Average Grade: C+
Grading the Second Round – The Eastern Conference
(1) Washington Capitals vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning
Prediction: Caps in 6
Actual Result: Lightning in 4
The Sharks’ chokers are now being worn by the Washington Capitals. After this series, their whole organization is reeling, and Coach Bruce Boudreau is likely on his way out. On the other hand, the Lightning’s older stars looked like they did in their previous Cup run, and Steven Stamkos has settled into the pace of playoff hockey as a prominent young star.
(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (3) Boston Bruins
Prediction: Flyers in 5
Actual Result: Bruins in 4
The Flyers looked beat-up and the Bruins delivered a Boston Beatdown. Tim Thomas continues to play out of his head, and it seems like the Bruins’ perennial underachievers may finally be ready for prime time. At least, they did in this series.
Eastern Conference Average Grade: F
Overall Average Grade: D+
Conference Finals Predictions
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (3) San Jose Sharks
Two unlikeable teams with a history of playoff choking meet in this clash of the Pacific Time Zone titans. Will it be Joe Thornton or Roberto Luongo who casts off the “can’t do it in the clutch” mantle? Since Joe Thornton’s the one who’s made the most punk bitch moves this year, somehow it’ll be him, and the Sharks will prevail.
Prediction: Sharks in 7
One of the aforementioned “punk bitch” moves. But, you know, he’s a leader and plays the right way and <masturbatory hand motion>
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning
The Bruins got to this point on the back of a goaltender who’s been playing out of his mind, and the Tampa Bay Lightning do nothing better than putting the puck in the net. Look for the scorers to win the playoff matchup for once, and take the Bruins down.
Prediction: Lightning in 6
The Stanley Cup Playoffs have had plenty of highlights so far, but these were definitely not the Conference Finals matchups that many were predicting. Here’s to hoping they come through and take hockey into June the right way.