I was almost right about one prediction in Round One: "Maggie the monkey on TSN will probably guess more correctly". She went 4-4, while I went 4-4. I've decided this time around that I won't let sentimental favorites cloud my judgment towards superior teams. I did call the Vancouver and Detroit victories in the correct number of games, though, so my confidence is still pretty good. However, this time I choose with much less emotion, and much more intellect (I hope).
Losing Tomas Holmstrom for part or all of this series will significantly hurt Detroit's offensive capabilities. Detroit's offence will still shine with both Datsyuk and Zetterberg playing better than they ever have at this point of the season. Hasek needs to be protected from being worn down by San Jose's big power forwards, and watch for the Thornton-versus-Lidstrom battle to take form in the same way that Iginla-versus-Lidstrom took place in Round One. San Jose has been playing well, and they've been blocking shots for Toskala and Nabokov like there's no tomorrow. That will be the key for this series if San Jose wants to advance. They need to play as tough as they did against Nashville, and live for today only. If they do, they'll be moving on.
Prediction: San Jose Sharks advance in seven games.
If there is any upside to playing all seven games, the Canucks can roll into Anaheim without having any rust on them. The Canucks' offence finally broke through in Game Seven against the Stars, but they'll need to keep it rolling if they want a chance against the Ducks. Any team with Luongo on it has a shot at beating anyone, but if the Canucks don't score, they can't rely on Luongo forever. The Ducks are the one team in the playoffs that have excellent, tough defence and an up-tempo offence that really pushes the play. Giguere and Bryzgalov have looked solid so far, and with Vancouver's offence woes showing against a stifling Dallas team, the Ducks know exactly what they have to do to advance.
Prediction: Anaheim Ducks advance in six games.
Henrik Lundqvist looked extremely sharp against the Atlanta Thrashers in Round One, and his team responded by embarrassing the Thrashers on special teams. The Rangers danced around the Thrashers' defence like they were pylons on a slalom course. That won't be the case with the Barney Rubble Hairpieces. The Hairpieces, who love to push the tempo, will cause fits for the slower Rangers' defensemen. I don't expect Jagr & Company to roll over for the Hairpieces, but keeping up with them may be too much for the Rangers to handle. Somebody from the Hairpieces needs to shut Sean Avery up. Hello, Andrew Peters.
Prediction: Barney Rubble Hairpieces advance in seven games.
Hall-of-Famer-to-be Martin Brodeur faces a tougher test than he did with Tampa Bay. Ottawa rolls four lines who can all score, and they play a much tougher game in front of the net. The New Jersey defensemen should be used to quickness having played Tampa, but can they handle four lines and 60 minutes of pressure? Ottawa, on the other hand, needs their stoppers to be as good or better to shut down Elias, Gomez, and Gionta. Volchenkov and Phillips will be given this job, so the task of stopping Parise, Zajac, and Langenbrunner will most likely fall to Redden and Meszaros. Redden looked average against the Penguins, and he will certainly have to be better if Ottawa is to advance. Emery was strong against the Penguins, but will certainly see more traffic with the Devils as his opponent.
Prediction: Ottawa Senators advance in six games.
I'm hoping to fare better than that damn simian this time. If Maggie outscores me, I'll do a tribute blog to Maggie, her hockey smarts, and how spinning a wheel is better than some guy who watched games all season long. Either way, these should be excellent series. Until next time, keep your stick on the ice!