Friday, May 11, 2007

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 2 Recap

In case you haven't been paying attention to the NHL playoffs, it's shaping up to be one of the best post seasons in years. But before I look forward to two amazing conference finals, I'll look back and see how my second round predictions turned out.

Eastern Conference

Buffalo Sabres (1) vs. New York Rangers (6) - The Sabres jumped into the driver's seat by winning the opening two home games. But the Rangers took back the momentum with a game three double overtime victory. Holding the dynamic Sabres offense to only one goal again in game four, the Ranger's tied up the series 2-2. Back in Buffalo, game five became a goaltenders duel, as the teams battled again in overtime deadlocked at 1-1. Afingenov scored the game winner on the powerplay, and gave the Sabres the 3-2 series lead. Unlike the first five games, game six was an offensive slugfest, with the Sabres finishing off the series with a 5-4 win.

If New York was to look at one thing that lost them this series, it would be their complete inability to beat Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. Although they amounted high shot totals, they scored more than 2 goals only once in the series.

I picked up 2 pts for predicting the Sabres win, and an additional 1 pt. for correctly predicting 6 games.

New Jersey Devils (2) vs. Ottawa Senators (4) - Both teams came into this round two match-up after decisively defeating their first round opponents. The Senators took the series lead, edging out the Devils with a 5-4 game one victory. Both Emery and Brodeur rebounded in game two in what turned out to be a goaltenders duel.
With less than 2 minutes left in the second overtime Jamie Langenbrunner beat Emery, evening the series at 1 game a piece. Game three proved to be the pivotal game of the series, with the Ottawa shutting out the Devils 2-0. The Senators took game four 3-2, and then back in Ottawa finished off the series with another 3-2 win in game five.

No points on this one, I had the Devils.

Western Conference

Detroit Red Wings (1) vs. San Jose Sharks (5) -
After defeating the favored Predators in the first round, the Sharks went a game up on the Red Wings, shutting them out 2-0. The series went back and forth, as Detroit tied in at 1-1 with a game two victory, and the Sharks took the lead again with a game three 2-1 win. Game four proved to be the turning point, as San Jose squandered a 2 goal lead for the second time in the series. The Red Wings took advantage and won the game 3-2 in overtime. Detroit took game five decisively 4-1, and completed the series comeback with a 2-0 victory in game six.

Detroit had me worried for a minute, but they got the 2 pts., plus the extra pt. for ending it in 6 games.

Anaheim Ducks (2) vs. Vancouver Canucks (3) - The Ducks offense took control of game 1, opening up the series with a 5-1 victory. But Vancouver settled in game two, playing Anaheim to a 1-1 tie, and eventually stealing the game on a Jeff Cowan goal in the second overtime. The Ducks took game three 3-2, and game four by the same 3-2 score in overtime. Game five saw a 1-1 tie go into a second overtime, with Scott Niedermayer beating Luongo on a goal, guaranteed, he will never forget. After what Roberto Luongo believed was an elbow penalty by the Ducks, and thinking the puck was clearing the zone, he turned to the ref arm raised to complain about the missed call. However Niedermayer kept the puck in at the blue line, and lofted a shot Luongo didn't see until it was too late.

The Canucks played the Ducks hard, and were in this series far more than the 4-1 series loss may imply. 4 games were 1 goal games, with 3 going into overtime.

I called the Ducks, but in 6 games. Only 2 pts. here.

Round 2: 3-1 with 8 pts.

Total: 8-4 with 16 pts.

I bounced back after a subpar first round. But 8-4 still isn't great. Let's see if I can't get both Conference finals and save some face.

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