So, we move on to the semifinals. Those high-flying Capitals, many people's pick to win the Cup? Gone. That team from Buffalo, with the likely Vezina Trophy winner and American idol, Ryan Miller? Gone. The Devils, with one of the best goalies of all time? Gone. Who would have thought? Let's get right into the East preview.
(4) Pittsburgh vs. (8 ) Montreal
The defending Cup champs now have home ice advantage after watching each of the division winners in the East go down in the first round. Can they take advantage? Their quest to do so starts against Montreal, which just pulled off one of the biggest upsets ever by knocking off the President's Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in seven games. But I'm not sure how much they have left after a long, physical grind of a series against the Caps, and with only two days off in between series. The Pens, on the other hand, are rested, rolling, and, seemingly unlike the Capitals, know what it takes to win and are willing to do whatever it takes. They crash the net and score dirty goals, as evidenced by their Game 6 win against Ottawa. Where the Capitals shot to score pretty goals against the Habs, the Pens shoot for rebounds that Malkin, Crosby, & Co. bury in the back of the net. Crosby, Malkin and Gonchar are really the only ones who shoot from the perimeter, and they don't stay there after their shots, they crash the net for rebounds. Habs G Jaroslav Halak might have to be even better in this one than he was against Washington, because while he might face slightly fewer shots, they will probably be higher percentage shots. The Pens are also better defensively than Washington and are playing better on the power play, maybe because they move people around on it more than Washington did. And, of course, Crosby is playing like a man on a mission. Halak will steal a game or two, though, as long as he keeps up his great play. Both teams must be careful to avoid taking unessential penalties, such as the one Mike Green took on Wednesday night that led to Montreal's first goal. Pittsburgh in 6.
(6) Boston vs. (7) Philly
Both these teams looked great in the first round. The question about Philly is whether they are really the team we saw in that round, or did they just get a favorable matchup against a team they dominated this year. I'm inclined to think the latter, though it's really hard to tell. The Flyers do have a very good defense corps and a strong offense when they play up to their potential, but the Bruins knocked off the team with the Vezina Trophy favorite, Ryan Miller, and G Tuukka Rask outplayed Miller in the series. Furthermore, the Bruins also have a great defense, led by D Zdeno Chara. Flyers G Brian Boucher was great against New Jersey, he will have to be even better facing off against Rask and an improved Bruins offense that will be getting a huge emotional boost with the return of Marc Savard. Expect a lengthy, physical series. Bruins in 6-7
Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern Semifinals
Posted on: May 1, 2010 8:30 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2010 8:32 pm
Tags: Atlantic Division, Boston Bruins, Brian Boucher, Eastern Conference, Evgeni Malkin, Jaroslav Halak, Marc Savard, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Northeast Division, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Miller, Semifinals, Sidney Crosby, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Tuukka Rask, Washington Capitals, Zdeno Chara