We are now set for the Conference Semi-finals of the NHL playoffs (the second of four rounds required to win the Stanley Cup.)
Of the 16 teams who competed in first roung, the following teams have advanced
#1 Pittsurgh Penguins
#4 Boston Bruins
#6 New York Rangers
#7 Ottawa Senators
#1 Chicago Blackhawks
#5 Los Angeles Kings
#6 San Jose Sharks
#7 Detroit Red Wings
This means that the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals look like this:
#7 Ottawa Senators vs. #1 Pittsburgh Penguins
#6 New York Rnagers vs. #4 Boston Bruins
And the Western Conference Semi-Finals look like this:
#7 Detroit Red Wings vs. #1 Chicago Blackhawks
#6 San Jose Sharks vs. #5 Los Angeles Kings
The Eastern Conference teams are looking strong. Pittsbugh beat the Islanders in six, while Ottawa had a hard fight against Montreal, but won the series in five games so both teams are well rested. Add to this that Pittsburgh is led by Sidney Crosby and Jerome Iginla, plus are the best team in the Conference. Both New York and Boston won their first round series in seven games. Boston won two of their games in O.T. including the seventh game when they came back from a 4-1 deficit.
The second round of the playoffs feature two original six match-ups:
Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks. and;
New York Rnagers vs. Boston Bruins
Detroit and Chicago have met up 15 in the playoffs, the last time in 2009. Chicago has won 8 of those match-ups. In total, both teams have won 37 games. Chicago beat Detroit for the Stanley Cup in 1961, while Detroit has beat Chicago twice for the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl (for being the Western Conference Champions) in 1995 and 2009. Chicago is 4-0 this season against this season. However that included an O.T. win and two shootout victories.
New York and Boston have met nine times in the postseason. Boston has won six of those meetings. Boston beat New York for the Stanley Cup in 1929 and 1972.
San Jose won two of the four match-ups this season against Los Angeles, although one was a shootout victory. San Jose has only faced Los Angeles once before – two years ago in 2011. San Jose won the series four games to one. San Jose won three games, including the game six, in overtime. Both teams scored 20 goals in that series.
Ottawa and Pittsburgh have met up three times before in the postseason. Ottawa won four games to one in 2007 in the first round of the playoffs. Pittsburgh swept Ottawa in the first round the following year. The two teams met up once again in the first round in 2010 with Pittsburgh prevailing in six games.
Chicago and Pittsburgh were the best teams in their respective conferences. San Jose dominated Vancouver in the first round with a sweep, while Los Angeles overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat St. Louis in six games. San Jose is well rested, but Los Angeles is the defending Stanley Cup champions. Boston and New York both had to play seven games to make it to the second round. New York won 5-0 in the seventh game against Washington, while Boston won game seven 5-4 in overtime.
I was 4-4 in the first round. Of my picks in the East, only the Penguins made it to the second round. In the West, only the Canucks lost. For this round, my predictions are as follows: Pittsburgh and Boston in the East, and Chicago and Los Angeles in the West.