So - after fairly quite preferably in the first round of the playoffs - I'm eager to see what the second round has to offer. I'm a bit late in doing this, as the second round is already two games deep in some instances, but ... I know who I'd root for no matter what the scores were/are.
San Jose defeats Detroit
After watching the first round, I didn't think that San Jose had it in them to win anything. The first few games made the Sharks appear anemic and weak - but they really came on strong afterward and won handily. They dominated over their opponents, BUT didn't necessarily require the strength of their first line in Thornton, Marleau and Heatley. Joe Pavelski has been their unexpected saviour. Yet, Pavelski is only able to work his magic BECAUSE Thornton's line is drawing the attention of the top-two defence from the opposition. While Thornton's line might be shut down due to the gruelling efforts of the oppositions - that dedication to the Thornton line leaves opportunities to the other Shark lines. Pavelski has taken advantage of those opportunities and it's brought the Sharks success.
I don't care for Detroit. While I think Detroit is fully equipped to win this series, especially if the Thornton line isn't scoring/dominating - I will always prefer whoever is playing against the Red Wings to the Wings themselves. Suck it, Detroit! Once the Red Wings are eliminated from contention, your city will literally have nothing left to be proud of. Not a single thing. Shame on you.
Vancouver defeats Chicago
I cannot deny that Vancouver is my pick for the Cup - so it's a shame that the young, but talented BlackHawks have stumbled into their crosshairs. I like the Hawks - but the Canucknuckleheads are going all the way!
Of course, this "preview" being late, we know that Vancouver already disposed of Chicago handily. Be prepared to watch the Hawks lose three more games and succumb to the destiny of the Canucks!
Philadelphia defeats Boston
Man, this was a really hard series to choose. I've really liked how Boston and Philly have played in the post-season. I'm not enough of a Savard fan to hop on the bandwagon and cheer him to the finals ... I like the mean bastards that the Flyers have put together.
It might not be the right pick, but it's my fan-favourite pick. Go Flyers! Watching the Flyers is like watching a demolition derby - there are a ton of crashes, one winner, and somebody might get hurt. I like it.
Nothing against Boston. I've really, really liked how they've been playing. They've been incredible. And while I won't pick it to be really great - I think a Boston v. Montreal conference finals would be outstanding!
Pittsburgh defeats Montreal
Again, to reiterate - if Montreal and Boston meet in the eastern conference finals - that will be a dream come true. I think Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are more likely to meet in the finals (and that would be an outstanding series, too). In fact, there are no losers for the fans if either of these combinations come up - only if some terrible combination of Philadelphia vs. Montreal (what?) or Pittsburgh vs. Boston (awful!).
I'm rooting for the battle of Pennsylvania - although the Original Six showdown - leading to an All Canadian finals would be truly unworldly.
So - how do I prioritize my pick for the eastern conference finals? Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia seems like the "most likely" pick - but Boston vs. Montreal would be the fan-favourite pick.
Let's just say, we're all winners in either of these situations - and we'll all lament "what could have been" if we don't get either of those matchups.
Until the third round!
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