I was 50% with my second round picks, that leaves me at 8/12 for the playoffs thus far. The second round wasn’t nearly the epic that came with the first eight series. However, the Western Conference managed to provide a few decent moments before the conference semi-finals wrapped up. Otherwise, two sweeps left most wanting more out East.
#5 Tampa Bay Lightning defeat #1 Washington Capitals 4-0
I was fairly certain that Dwayne Roloson and the Lightning weren’t capable of continuing their magic from the first round. However, Washington reverted back to form from early in the season. Alex Ovechkin was a ghost and Michael Neuvirth was average. Tampa Bay has found scoring from their big guns in addition to their role players, namely Sean Bergenheim. They face a steep climb against the Bruins, probably the most physical team in the 2011 Playoffs. Turning point: Tampa’s 3-2 overtime win in game two. Took first two games in Washington. MVP: Sean Bergenheim – 4 goals, has 7+1 through 11 playoff games thus far.
#3 Boston Bruins defeat #2 Philadelphia Flyers 4-0
The Flyers goaltending situation finally caught up with them as the Bruins rolled through them with little trouble. Aside from game two, Boston was stronger and more talented at every position. Peter Laviolette should have stuck with Sergei Bobrovsky for every game of the playoffs. It was a monumental mistake to pump quarters into the goaltending merry-go-round. Perhaps the Sabres series took more out of the Flyers than some thought, I think the Bruins are that much stronger. Tim Thomas standing on his head played a major part in this one as well. Turning point: Danny Briere fanning on an empty net with under five seconds remaining in game two. Bruins won in OT and rolled through the rest of the series. MVP: David Krejci & Tim Thomas – Krejci racked up four goals and nine points including the OT game winner in game two. Thomas had a 1.65 GAA and .953 SV% and allowed two goals in eight periods after allowing two early goals in game two.
#1 Vancouver Canucks defeat #5 Nashville Predators 4-2
Ryan Kesler shouldered much of the load as the Canucks struggled to solve Pekka Rinne for most of the series. Nashville made things interesting for most of the series, despite falling behind 3-1. Rinne stole the show for the Predators, who ultimately didn’t have the weapons to run with the Canucks. Vancouver still hasn’t received much help from the Sedin twins. If they show up for the Conference Finals Vancouver could be looking at a Stanley Cup Finals berth. Turning point: Ryan Kesler’s game winning, overtime goal in game three. Put the Canucks ahead for good and sent them home with the momentum. MVP: Ryan Kesler – Scored five goals in the series and was dominant for the Canucks. Far and away the best forward on both teams.
#2 San Jose Sharks defeat #3 Detroit Red Wings 4-3
San Jose did just about everything they could do to give this series to the Red Wings. Games four through six were struggles for the Sharks, a team that has choked numerous times in the past against Detroit. I feel that Detroit’s top-end talent was more than San Jose could handle. However, Detroit lacked the depth the Sharks have. Sure, Thornton and Marleau were kept quiet, but Ryane Clowe, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski ran wild with lesser match-ups. Goaltending was a dead heat as Antti Niemi and Jimmy Howard were both great. By winning this series the Sharks may have stamped their ticket to the Finals. Turning point: Logan Couture’s shelf-job off a Henrik Zetterberg turnover early in game seven. The 2-0 lead was too much for the Wings to overcome. MVP: Antti Niemi – Carried the Sharks and kept them alive, made timely saves and recorded a 2.36 GAA and .931 SV% for his efforts.
2ITB result: Only had two right out of my four selections. Had Detroit done the unthinkable I would have pretty good numbers for the second round. In total I am 8/12 for the 2011 postseason, 100% for the Conference Finals will put me back on top.