Wow. Sorry for the long delay, folks. I was on the road last week, visiting my parents in Ohio with my almost-two-year-old daughter. Since the second round matchups weren't yet set until Tuesday night (the day I left), and 'cause my parents idea of cutting-edge technology is a digital watch (not to mention trying to keep up with the aforementioned daughter without her mom around to help!), I had zero chance to with art or picks for round two! My sincere apologies. I'll come correct next time around, no matter who moves on.
Anyway, we're a few games in already, but here goes:
(1) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Carolina Hurricanes
Boston was hardly tested in their sweep of Montreal, whereas Carolina needed a couple miracles to advance past the Jersey Devils in round one. Will the long layoff lead to a hangover for the Bruins, or will they continue to roll? Sadly, I fear they will. It's been entertaining to see how many of the Boston teams have suffered misfortune, coming close to ultimate victory before enduring bitter defeat, since Prince of Darkness Bill Belichek got nailed for cheating in mid-2007 (the notable exception being last year's Celtics... then again, look what happened to this year's team.) I think a great letdown is in store for the Bruins as well, but not in this round. Sorry, Davis. Bruins in five.
(2) Washington Capitals vs. (4) Pittsburgh Penguins
Historically, the Penguins have owned the Capitals in the playoffs. Of seven meetings, Pittsburgh has won six, even after losing the first game of the series in five of those times. I fondly remember the last time, in 2001...the Penguins finished Washington off for good in overtime of game six, and on the Capitals post-game wrap up show on HTS network, the disbelief, frustration and bewilderment of losing again was evident on the faces of the studio staff. There was a lot of silence, head shaking...host Al Koken could hardly find words...it seemed like all they wanted to say was "Fuck. Just...fuck. Really? Again? Fuck. See you next season." It was glorious. When it happens again sometime early next week, I'm gonna DVR it. Penguins in six.
(2) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Anaheim Ducks
It seems like an odd proposition, but I think the Ducks might actually have a good shot at taking out the Red Wings. They play physical, almost dirty hockey...they're riding high after knocking off the President's Trophy-winning Sharks relatively easily (BTW, I'm gonna set my account up to shoot me an email early next April that says "DON"T PICK THE FUCKING SHARKS!"). C'mon, Anaheim, the playoffs are so much more interesting with Detroit out of it. Prove me wrong and get it done. I'll even draw your shitty non-uniforms in the next round. Red Wangs in six.
(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (4) Chicago Blackhawks
In the past few seasons, young teams who've had a ton of success in the regular season (2007 Pengiuns, 2008 Capitals) have had a hard time carrying that success into the playoffs against more experienced teams. The Blackhawks, though, seem to have bucked that trend, defeating a tough Calgary team in a series that was a bit closer than the 4-2 final tally would indicate. And boy, can they score. Things went a bit closer to script for the Canucks, who took out the upstart Blues pretty easily. If the Hawks can get a split in the first two games in Vancouver (update: they did), I think they'll be able to withstand the 'Nucks the rest of the way and advance to the Western Conference finals. Blackhawks in seven.