NHL playoff predictions: Semifinals

NHL playoff predictions: Semifinals
May 14, 2013, 9:45 am
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The Stanley Cup Final gets underway tonight when the Blackhawks host the Bruins. (AP)

It's time to drop the puck on the NHL playoffs’ second round.

After the quarterfinal series’ exciting conclusion Monday night, Tim Panaccio and Sarah Baicker are actually tied in their prediction records: Both are 5-3 (see story).

With that said, CSNPhilly.com’s two hockey writers move on to make their best guesses about what will transpire in Round 2.

Eastern Conference
 
No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 7 Ottawa.
Panotch: The Islanders made the Penguins expend quite a bit of energy to overcome them. Pittsburgh wasn’t prepared for the Isles’ speed off transition, and Douglas Murray looked very slow against John Tavares. The Senators don’t have quite that much speed off transition, but like Pittsburgh, has a defenseman in Erik Karlsson who can control the game. Controlling the Pens’ offense, however, is another matter. Pick: Penguins in six

Baicker: I’m going to go ahead and believe that the Penguins’ trouble with the Islanders will serve more as a wake-up call than a cause for concern, but there are some things about this Senators team that could give them a tough time. Ottawa does have a deceptively quick, young offense – not all that unlike the Isles’ – and they can do some damage in the high slot, an area that the Pens struggled to protect at times during their first-round series. That said, like I wrote in our quarterfinals prediction piece (see story), the Penguins’ depth is just too hard to overcome, though things could get interesting if Jason Spezza returns to the Sens’ roster. Pick: Penguins in six

No. 4 Boston vs. No. 6 New York Rangers
Panotch: What a choke by the Maple Leafs, eh, in a Game 7. It’s almost reminiscent of the Bruins’ choke against the Flyers in 2010. Both these clubs come into the series on emotional highs and having to go the distance, which takes something out of any club. Henrik Lundqvist looked like the dominant goalie we know he can be most times. Still like the Bruins overall. Pick: Bruins in six

Baicker: Don’t underestimate momentum. Yes, the Bruins were supposed to win their first-round series, and yes, it took them ‘til the very last second of Game 7 (literally) to defeat the Leafs – but there is no doubt momentum is on their side. Both the Rangers and B’s will be exhausted from having to fight through seven games to advance, but it just seems like the Bruins are the team on a roll (and yes, I know the Rangers were dominant in their series-clincher). What I can tell you for sure, is this will be a very fun series to watch. Who doesn't love an Original Six rivalry? Pick: Bruins in five
 
Western Conference
 
No. 1 Chicago vs. No. 7 Detroit

Panotch: The Red Wings had to go to the max to upset Anaheim while the Blackhawks breezed through their first-round series against “Minnysnowda.” Have to wonder how all this time off will affect the Hawks competitive edge in Game 1. This is where Detroit has to take advantage of a sitting around a while waiting. From the get-go, Chicago seemed best in the West, regardless. Pick: Blackhawks in six

Baicker: Some teams benefit from rest, while others get thrown off track. As the Blackhawks most certainly proved at the start of this season, they tend to be more of the former than the latter. There are things to like about this Detroit team, but Chicago remains the team to beat – and I just don’t see the Wings being the team that accomplishes it. Pick: Blackhawks in six
 
No. 5 Los Angeles vs. No. 6 San Jose

Panotch: Didn’t think the Sharks had it in them to upset Vancouver, let alone sweep them. And yet they made it look rather easy, perhaps because for the first time in a while, there was no pressure, no expectations on San Jose to do anything in the playoffs. They are still the underdogs regardless of how far they go. And they remain so. Pick: Kings in seven.

Baicker: Series between fifth- and sixth-seeded teams are often as much fun as those No. 4-No.5 series. This is actually a tough one to call – that series between the Kings and Blues was intense from the get-go, and the Kings certainly accomplished something by knocking off Ken Hitchcock’s Blues. But the Sharks proved that we might be underestimating them … and these prediction things aren’t fun at all if the two writers putting them together make the same picks for each series, right? Pick: Sharks in seven

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