Well, well, well. The first round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs has finally ended, and with a double-overtime nail-biter, I might add.
We’ve seen some major upsets, and some surprisingly tough series. The Kings defeated the President Trophy winning Cancucks, and the Flyers pretty much embarrassed the Penguins in 6 hard-fought games (talk about a goaltending nightmare). The Panthers and Senators, some of the biggest underdogs this season, were within inches of making it through to the second round, and the reigning Stanley Cup Champs, the Boston Bruins, were sent home early with a seven-game Washington Capitals victory.
So, what can we expect in the 2nd round?
In the West, lots of extremely intense goaltending duels. Quick, Rinne, Smith, and Elliot/Halak are all top tier goalies this season, and had phenomenal numbers in the regular season. The 5 combines had a goals against average and save percentage of 2.02 and .930, respectively. Absolutely amazing. These games will be hard-hitting, low scoring, and hyper intense.
The East is harder to pin-point than the West. Expect to see heated regional rivalries flare up. All four teams are within 200 miles of each other, and we all know how heated those upper Atlantic coast rivalries are. These games are going to be passionate and intense, much like the West. Keep your eyes on the Caps trying to break through the Rangers’ iron defense and goaltending, and watch out for Calder Trophy candidate, Adam Henrique, to continue playing clutch hockey.
Here are my picks for the 2nd round:
Blues in 7
Predators in 5
Rangers in 6
Flyers in 6
Who do you think will survive the 2nd round? Sound off in the comments.