The NHL will officially be back in just a few short days and we’re running through the qualifying round matchups on this week’s show. We touch on each series and point out what to watch for and who we’re favoring in each matchup. We also offer up our picks for Cup finalists despite the many pitfalls that the combined layoff and unusual nature of this year’s playoff format creates.
One thing that is safe to assume about the NHL Conference Finals, you will see two very different series. The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning both think defense first most of the time. While the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks are both deep with scoring depth.
It is also probably safe to assume both series will go at least six games. The rusty vs. run-down debate will probably run rampant. However, both teams out East have had long lay-offs while only San Jose has really no chance to settle down.
#3 Boston Bruins vs. #5 Tampa Bay Lightning
Boston has the ability to push the Lightning around. The Bruins are deep on defense and are long on big, angry forwards. Tim Thomas has also been spectacular throughout the playoffs. Tampa has gotten great goaltending from Dwayne Roloson and their grinders have been extremely effective. If it comes down to goaltending I would lean towards the Bruins. Thomas has been too good to bet against. In addition he has played bigger as the situation has become more tense. The Bruins forwards are good. Their top two lines are great scorers and their grinders have been excellent. Chris Kelly has been an x-factor of sorts as he has found ways to score big goals in both rounds. Zdeno Chara is the easy guy to point out on defense but Dennis Seidenberg has been stellar all playoffs. He may be the best defenseman the Bruins have right now. Continue reading →