2013 Stanley Cup playoffs: Conference semifinal picks
It was a so-so start to my sixth annual NHL Stanley Cup playoff predictions.
After a wild first round that saw 17 overtime games and a stunning Game 7 come back by the Boston Bruins over the Toronto Maple Leafs, I went only 5-3. However, in three of my wins, I did pick the correct number of games (Penguins in six over the Islanders, Bruins in seven over the Maple Leafs and Kings in six over the Blues).
Now, it’s time for my conference semifinal picks:
No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 7 Ottawa Senators — The Penguins had a tough time with the New York Islanders before putting them away after Tomas Vokoun replaced an ineffective Marc-Andre Fleury in goal. The Senators impressed me with their grit in putting away the Montreal Canadiens. But that grit won’t be enough to stop the Penguins, although I expect a tough series. Penguins in 6.
No. 4 Boston Bruins vs. No. 6 New York Rangers — I’m still shaking my head at the Bruins miraculous comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 Monday night. They overcame a 4-1 third-period deficit with three goals, including two with the extra attacker, to tie it, 4-4, and then win it in overtime. The Rangers have been getting great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, especially in the final two games of the series with the Washington Capitals when he posted back-to-back shutouts. And Lundqvist will be the difference in this series. Rangers in 7.
No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. No. 7 Detroit Red Wings
The Blackhawks disposed of the Minnesota Wild in five games. The Red Wings took out the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks in seven games. The Red Wings had a tougher time than the Blackhawks did. And traveling back and forth from Detroit to Anaheim will catch up to the Red Wings against the Blackhawks. Blackhawks in 5.
No. 5 Los Angeles Kings vs. No. 6 San Jose Sharks
The Sharks swept the Vancouver Canucks, and it wasn’t a surprise. The defending Stanley Cup-champion Kings had a very tough, physical series with the St. Louis Blues. I’m not sure there is much left in the tank for the Kings. Sharks in 6.
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