Friday, May 15, 2009

NHL Conference Finals Field Set

Kudos to Carolina and Detroit for their victories last night in game 7 of their second round match-ups. The 'Canes needed overtime before Scott Walker scored off a rebound to knock out top-seeded Boston in the East. In the West, Detroit's Dan Cleary scored with three minutes remaining to eliminate #8 seed Anaheim.

Carolina goes on to play Pittsburgh in the East. Sidney Crosby is on fire during the playoffs - a ridiculous 12 goals in 13 games, including scoring the first goal in each of the past five games. Cam Ward is playing extremely well for the Hurricanes, and he is extremely tough to beat. His victory last night nudged his career playoff OT mark to 4-0. This may be a tired team after two seven-game series this year (in fact, Carolina has had four consecutive seven-game series in the playoffs, spanning multiple seasons), but they are fast and exciting to watch. This one will go the distance, and Carolina wins, despite a huge series from Crosby.

In the West, Detroit vs. Chicago is highly-anticipated. This is the match-up everyone wanted to see when the playoffs began. The division rivals meet for the first time in the semis and it should provide plenty of end-to-end hockey action. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have shown flashes of their brliilance these playoffs, but the solid play of Nikolai Khabibulin has backstopped the Hawks. On the Detroit side, the offensive weapons abound....Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa, Johan Franzen, etc. However, the Achilles heel of this team may be goaltending, and the Wings need Chris Osgood to step up. This one will also go this distance, but the Wings have too much fire-power and will win to set up a rematch of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals with Carolina. Chicago will use it as a learning experience, much like Edmonton in the early 80's and New Jersey in 1994 before launching their respective dynasties.

What do you think?

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