I had a good first round in this year's playoffs, but was taken to the woodshed in the second round. I certainly did not foresee Montreal coming on strong against the Bruins, who played more like teddy bears than big, bad bears in the last two games of their series. Nor did I foresee the Rangers getting the better of a jittery Pittsburgh squad. It looks like the Penguins are in for some real soul-searching and possible rebuilding in the off-season. As for the west, I pretty much got it right with the 'Hawks looking like serious defenders of their championship, and the Kings out-duelling their cross-town rivals. Now, we move on.
Montreal Canadiens vs New York Rangers
The first game is in the books and the Rangers administered an old fashioned butt-kicking on the Habs in their own building. The Habs looked tired and slow, uncharacteristic for them this playoff year. They have impressed me with their team speed and dedication to winning. But with Carey Price on the shelf for the series now, they are very beatable. On the other side, I have been consistently underestimating the Rangers all year, and especially in the playoffs. There is a lot to like in their game, and Lundqvist seems to rounding into all-world form just at the right time. Before the series started and before Price's injury, I would have said Montreal would win in maybe 5 games. Now ..... I am still going with the Habs, disrespecting the Rangers once again. But it will be tough and it could go seven.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Los Angeles Kings
I like both teams in this series, but since there is only one winner, I'll have to make a decision. The first game is in the books here too, and the 'Hawks looked pretty good in beating the Kings. But the Kings can take a licking and come back strong, and they will do so in this series. Goaltending looks good for both teams, but the 'Hawks know what it takes to win, and they may have the grittiest corps of talented players in the league. So, the 'Hawks will take the series in seven games.
So, this sets up an original six Stanley Cup for another year. If the 'Hawks do indeed go up against the Habs, it will probably be Chicago in 6 games unless Price coms back from his injury. If the 'Hawks go up against the Rangers, it will be over in 5 games for sure, with Chicago winning. So , for the first time in a while, we will have a back-to-back defence of the Cup with the champions being...
The Chicago Blackhawks.