2014 NHL playoffs, round 2

Just a quick note to get my predictions in before too many games get played…

Amazingly enough, I went 6-2 in the first round, missing Colorado and St. Louis. Congrats to the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks for not caring what I think.  I will say this first round of hockey was, overall, some of the best and most entrancing hockey I’ve seen in however long I’ve been following hockey. When the Rangers/Flyers series is the series that keeps getting forgotten in the larger discussion going on, there’s some really good hockey happening. That series wasn’t a bad series, either, but was rather more like regular season hockey, somewhat grinding and not special.

Notable in the series I got right — I picked the Kings, not the Sharks. And I wish I could say their win surprised me, but it didn’t. Quick outplayed Niemi, and the Kings outplayed the Sharks. As I said on Twitter after game 3, anyone who thought that series was over hadn’t been watching the Kings, and my gut told me after game 5 the series was over.

It’s a little sad that two top-six teams in the league met in the first round and one went home, but that’s what happened here. That said, the Sharks don’t want to be a top six team, they want to be a top-2 team and a cup winning team, and they haven’t been able to take that next step in the last three years. It can get lost in the fact that the Sharks haven’t made it to the Cup finals just how good they’ve been and how consistently good they’ve beenn. But it can also get lost in the fact that the Sharks have been so consistently good that they haven’t taken that next step — and that step matters. it’s just, as we keep seeing, not easy.

So, well, now what? (that’s a piece that will arrive later….).

Second Round Predictions

So, what’s up in the second round? Here’s my thoughts:

Eastern Conference

Boston vs Montreal: should be a fun series to watch. Montreal will make Boston crazy, but my eastern pick was Boston and I see no reason that will change, so: Boston in 5.

Pittsburgh vs. NY Rangers: Do you bet against Crosby, or do you bet against Lundqvist? I don’t think either team can beat the Bruins in a series, so in some ways it doesn’t matter, but I do think the Rangers have a good chance to take this series, so I’ll go witih Rangers in 6.

My pick coming out of the East continues to be Boston.

Western Conference

Chicago vs Minnesota: I’m surprised to see Minnesota moving into the second round. I’m happy to see it, but I’m surprised. Chicago is definitely a better team and should win out here, so Chicago in 5.

Los Angeles vs. Anaheim: the series to watch this round. It’ll be interesting to see how the Kings hold up against the Ducks; the Sharks didn’t win the series, but Los Angeles didn’t get out easy, and now they go up again Anaheim. Los Angeles is a better team, Anaheim is more rested and less banged up. I think Quick is likely the difference here, and I’m going with the Kings in 6.

My pick coming out of the West continues to be the Kings.