DETROIT – Breakdown and predictions of the semifinal series round of the NHL playoffs.
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (7) Detroit Red Wings
The Blackhawks have had the Wings’ number over the last seven regular season meetings, winning all seven, including all four this year. Chicago also has the ability to roll out top line after top line against teams and it led the squad to the Presidents’ Trophy. This could come down to coaching and Wings coach Mike Babcock proved he was the better coach in the first round and has Joel Quenneville’s number in the past.
Pick: Blackhawks in six.
(5) Los Angeles Kings vs. (6) San Jose Sharks
The defending champs seem to be really catching fire after disposing of St. Louis in the first round, winning four in a row in the series after dropping Game 1. It’s going to come down to the battle of goalies – the Kings’ Jonathan Quick and the Sharks’ Antti Niemi, who’s a Veznia Trophy finalist. Six of the past 10 meetings between the Kings and Sharks have been one-goal games. Four of those went to overtime.
Pick: Sharks in six.
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
The Penguins got their scare in the first round, while the Senators walked all over the Montreal Canadiens. Despite the return of Erik Karlsson on Ottawa’s blue line and the stellar play of netminder Craig Anderson, Pittsburgh has way too much firepower up front for the Senators to handle. The only question mark for the Pens is in net, where veteran Tomas Vokoun has taken over the starting duties from a struggling Marc-Andre Fleury.
Pick: Penguins in five.
(4) Boston Bruins vs. (6) New York Rangers
The one thing that’s for sure, these two teams have got to be exhausted. Henrik Lundqvist recorded back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7 to get the Rangers through, while the Bruins needed to rally from three goals down in the third period to force overtime with the Toronto Maple Leafs before advancing in the extra period. This series could turn into another nail biter.
Pick: Rangers in seven.