Thursday, 28 April 2011

NHL Stanley Cup 1st Round

The first round threw up only a couple of surprises as most of the teams I expected to progress went on to the second round. Below you can see all the final scores and how they matched up to my earlier predictions.

Western Conference:

My Prediction: 3 - 4 (Phoenix win)

Well I was miles off with this one. I thought that Phoenix would be able to push Detroit just as far this year as they did last but, when their best player (Bryzgalov) doesn't play well, the Coyotes don't win, despite the brilliance of Shane Doan throughout the series and the emergence of Kyle Turris from his season-long slumber. Detroit were by far the better side and deserved to go through.

My Prediction: 4 – 1

I wasn't too far off with this one. San Jose proved to be too much for LA, as we all thought they would. The Kings played some great hockey and, had they defended their 4-0 lead in Game 3 of the series, things might have turned out differently. Thornton, Marleau and Heatley were fairly non-existent to begin with but they are building up a head of steam right now and march on.

My Prediction: 1 – 4 (Ducks win)

Again, my predictive powers failed me. Despite a great series for Ryan, Getzlaf, Perry and Selanne, the hardworking Nashville Predators had too much grit and determination for the highly skilled Anaheim Ducks. Despite being knocked out, Bobby Ryan can find some solace in having scored one of the best goals in Stanley Cup history.

My Prediction: 4 – 3

Spot on for this one. Probably the best series out of them all. Vancouver went 3-0 up and the Blackhawks came right back to tie it. Vancouver had goalie issues and even let in a short-handed goal at the end of Game 7 to take the game into overtime before they finally overcame the team that has put them out of the last two Stanley Cup playoffs. Vancouver have shown they have more about them this year and I fancy them to go far.

Eastern Conference:

My Prediction: 4 – 2

Washington proved to be too much for the Rangers who simply could not match the speed and power of the Capital's forwards. The Rangers did push Washington hard and, had a couple of bounces gone their way in overtime, we could have been looking at a much closer series. However, the better team did go through. Washington look dangerous.

My Prediction: 4 – 2

At one point I thought that the Bolts were on their way out. They were 3 – 1 down to the Pittsburgh Penguins after four games and that usually means only one thing. However, Steven Stamkos finally found his game in his first NHL playoffs and sparked a remarkable turnaround that ended with Tampa going through after a 1 – 0 win in Game 7. Pittsburgh will be wondering how this series got away from them.

My Prediction: 4 – 3

Nailed this one. With the history between these two sides, how could this series not have gone seven games? It would have been a travesty. It was another memorable seven games in the Bruins/Canadiens saga and, in the end, the better team went through for sure. The Bruins, now they have put out their biggest rivals, look very well placed to reach the Conference Final and even the Stanley Cup Final.

My Prediction: 4 – 0

I was way off with the series score, but not with the eventual winner. Philadelphia were without Chris Pronger for the early part of this series and it showed. However, on his return, the Flyers found their game and ground out some hugely important wins including a pivotal overtime win in Game 6 that allows them to move on. They will have to resolve their goaltending issues if they are to go as far as they did last year. Buffalo will be kicking themselves for letting this opportunity to progress to round 2 slip away.

I'll be back later to preview the next round!

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