Round 2 of the quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup begins Thursday. 6 of the eight teams I picked in the first round won, while the defending Cup champs were sent home packing. We begin Round 2 Thursday night. Some of the games can be seen on Versus, CBC, RDS, TSN and NBC. Check your local listings. (If you happen to live in Houston and can't get Versus, go to a place on Smith Street called the Maple Leaf Pub. It's in downtown Houston.)
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Philadelphia vs. Montreal
Both teams are coming off seven-game series which saw some stellar hockey played by both squads. The Canadiens swept the season series with the Flyers but you can throw that record out. This time, it’s a pair of two teams that want the same thing. Philadelphia will have to skate smarter than they did against Washington, especially in last Saturday’s game, where they only got off one shot in 15 minutes of play. Montreal took Boston to a game seven, where they took apart Boston like a cheap watch. It may be one of the better semifinal series in the East. It’s going to go seven and fans in Montreal will be singing “ O Canada!” to their hearts content. Going with the Canadiens in 7.
The Penguins are well rested after their sweep of Ottawa and will have some work to do against a tough Ranger club that beat up New Jersey pretty good. New York won the season series with the flightless birds but this time, it’s for all the marbles. It’s for the right to have a chance to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup. Penguins in 6.
Western Conference Semifinals
Hope Colorado likes squid. The Red Wings won the season series with Colorado. Not to take anything away from Colorado but they did struggle a bit with Minnesota. Nashville wasn’t an easy undertaking for the Red Wings but they got through it in fine fashion, taking down the Atlanta wanna-bes. Chris Osgood and the boys from Motor City better have their A games in their bags. Going with Detroit in 7.
Dallas and San Jose split the season series down the middle. Dallas looked like they were struggling against Anaheim until they came home and shut down the defending champs. Meanwhile, San Jose was taken to a game seven by a tougher Calgary squad than I thought. Dallas may have a few days rest under their belts and this time, they’re going to need it. San Jose came ready to play in game seven against the Flames and will look to take the boys from Big D down a peg or two. Going with the Sharks in 6.