Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger of Sweden, left, and left wing Bryan Bickell celebrate after Bickell scored during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Tuesday, March 5, 2013 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Brian Kersey)
The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs ended on Wednesday night with three incredible Game 7’s. The New York Rangers moved their all-time record in Game 7’s at Madison Square Garden to 6-0 by beating the Philadelphia Flyers, the Minnesota Wild came back from four separate one-goal deficits to beat the Colorado Avalanche in overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings became just the fourth team in NHL history to erase a 3-0 series deficit when they knocked off the San Jose Sharks 5-1.
All three of those results provided some high drama for fans, but they also ensured that Madhouse Enforcer’s first round picks ended with a thud instead of a bang. Sure, we started out the postseason white hot, nailing all five of the first teams to advance (including the Bruins, Blackhawks, Ducks, and Penguins in the correct number of games), but we missed on the last three, bringing out prediction record to 5-3 for the postseason.
Even though we finished poorly, we don’t have much time to lick our wounds, as the second round of the playoffs is set to begin on Thursday night when the Bruins take on the Canadiens in a battle of long-time rivals. Without further adieu, here are our picks for the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs:
Boston Over Montreal, Six Games
New York Over Pittsburgh, Seven Games
The Bruins made easy work of the Detroit Red Wings in the first round, but they could be in for a bit more of a challenge in this one. Going up against Carey Price and PK Subban is never an easy proposition, and Montreal’s scoring attack looked downright lethal against the Lightning. It’s going to take a lot of effort to slow down Max Pacioretty and company, but the Bruins have the physicality and the team speed to do it, so we have them advancing.
As for the Rangers, we didn’t pick them to advance to the second round, but we also weren’t convinced about the Penguins’ ability to get very far in this year’s playoffs. Yes, they have great offensive talent, but they aren’t a terribly deep team, and the Rangers do have some solid players of their own. It’s a coin flip, but if we’re analyzing Marc Andre Fleury vs. Henrik Lundqvist in a winner-take-all game, we’ll go with the stellar Swede.
Chicago Over Minnesota, Six Games
Los Angeles Over Anaheim, Six Games
A lot of Hawks fans think that the team will roll over the Wild in fairly short order, but that isn’t going to be the case. Minnesota has dealt with a lot of challenges in their first round series against the Colorado Avalanche, and they really did a nice job of neutralizing the speedy Avalanche attack for the most part. Chicago will attack them similarly, but with a better defense and more stingy puck possession game, the Hawks should be able to overcome the Wild in six games.
In the other series, we have two teams that are really plugging along with some nice momentum behind them. The Ducks came roaring back in Game 6 of their series with the Dallas Stars, scoring twice in the final two minutes before winning it in overtime. As for the Kings, they too are on cloud nine after beating the Sharks in historic fashion. This series could ultimately come down to goaltending, and the Kings are a lot more settled than the Ducks are in that area right now. With that in mind, we’ll take Jonathan Quick over the two-headed monster of Jonas Hiller and Frederik Andersen and pick the Kings to set up a Western Conference Final rematch with the Blackhawks.