Semifinal Round: 3/4. Stupid Caps. I am never picking them to win anything ever again. They seem hell-bent on always proving me wrong.
After such an awesome first round, I suppose we were due for a real letdown. The second round delivered on that front, with two sweeps, a five-game series, and a series that threatened to be a sweep until the Sharks decided to practice their collective gag reflex. As it turned out, Sharks/Wings provided the only truly compelling hockey of Round 2... unless spectacular goalie fails are your thing, am I right Philly?
Since I'm typing one-handed with my son on my lap, I'll keep this short. (You're welcome.)
Boston Bruins (3) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (5)
I'm tempted to say Tampa for a number of reasons, including the fact that they're currently up 1-0 in the series (but that would be cheating). Patrice Bergeron's absence makes it difficult for the B's, but the reasons I'd pick Tampa - the Bruins' 2-for-41 powerplay, Dwayne Roloson outplaying the keeper at the other end, and this notion of the Bolts as a team of destiny - are all things that I'm sensing an imminent reversal for. It seems that a team which undergoes a major renaissance always needs to get that first decent playoff run under its belt before it goes all the way to the finals - think Hawks from last year or Penguins in '08. Next year, Tampa. Bruins in 6.
Vancouver Canucks (1) vs. San Jose Sharks (2)
So who do you want to bet for - the team that almost blew a 3-0 series lead in Round 1, or.... the team that almost blew a 3-0 series lead in Round 2? For that matter, who do you want to bet against? San Jose's collection of forwards is as good as it gets, but I like Vancouver here (man, how it pains me to write that) for a couple reasons: Ryan Kesler is pretty much the best player alive right now, and the Canucks' defense is deeper than the Sharks. Really, when you get past Dan Boyle, the Sharks' blueline is rather "meh" - and Boyle can't play 60 minutes a night. The X-factor here has to be Luongo - he can be unbelievably good or unbelievably bad, sometimes within the same series... and sometimes within the same period. Canucks in 7.