Thursday, May 7, 2009

NHL Conference Semifinals Three Games In

We are now three games into each of the four Conference Semifinal series and there are more than a few surprises. Both the Penguins and Red Wings (last year's Finals teams) are down two games to one. The top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins, also face a 2-1 deficit. Now all three of these teams must win three out of their next four games or be eliminated. Lets take a look in on each of these series and see their chances for survival. 

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (3) Washington Capitals:

Pittsburgh is the only one of these bubble teams that isn't the higher seed so while they don't have the home ice advantage in the series they do for game four where they look to even it at 2-2. The Penguins do have to out last an extremely talented Washington team. All year we've known that the Capitals had a prolific offense, led by Alexander Ovechkin and helped by Semin, Backstrom, Green and company. Now though Washington has erected their own "Iron Curtain" in net, in rookie goalie sensation Simeon Varlamov. Varlamov has been terrific throughout the playoffs and played an amazing game last night in the overtime loss. He stopped 39 of 42 shots and stymied a number of high percentage chances by Pittsburgh. For the Penguins to have any shot of coming back in this series they must find a way to overcome Varlamov

Chance of advancing: 40%, The Pens have the home ice in their must win game four, but still need to contend with Ovechkin and Varlamov.

(6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (1) Boston Bruins:

The Hurricanes have had their share of heroics this postseason. First by scoring two goals with less than a minute remaining against the Devils in game 7 of their first round match up and now last night's overtime 3-2 victory. The upstart Hurricanes seem to be in control of this series despite losing the regular season match up 3-1. Early on it looked like Boston was going to run away with the Eastern Conference. They swept the Canadians 4-0 in round one and won the first game against the Hurricanes 4-1. The Bruins had scored at least four goals in each of their first five playoff games but have only managed a total of two in the last two games. The Hurricanes' Eric Staal has been on fire this post season and paces the team with seven goals and ten points. Boston faces a must win on the road in game 4, as they don't want to go down 3-1 in the series.

Chances of advancing: 25%, I think Boston is in real trouble here. Carolina dominated the last two games and they have the momentum with them at home. 

(8) Anaheim Ducks vs. (2) Detroit Red Wings:

The stars seemed to be aligning for the Red Wings in the playoffs: They were the defending Stanley Cup Champs; they have the most experienced and talented group of skaters in the playoffs; they swept the Blue Jackets and outscored them 18-7 in the first round; the Ducks knocked off the (1) San Jose Sharks; and the Red Wings won the season match up with the Ducks 3-1. On paper it looked like the Red Wings would be defending their title in the Finals. On the ice though Anaheim has been the more dominate team and looks to upset another top seed in the playoffs. Though an (8) seed the Ducks are a dangerous team with plenty of talent and experience of their own. They won the Cup in 2007 and have out hustled and played the Red Wings so far. Detroit will need to win game 4 on the road and slow down Anaheim's momentum and tie the series up. 

Chances of advancing: 50%, These teams are very evenly matched so it would be no surprise to see Anaheim knock off the champs. I still say that the Red Wings have more star talent than the Ducks and that will be the key to the series.

1 comment:

  1. That would be the Carolina Hurricanes; it's the Florida Panthers