The second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs was a wild one. Much like the first-round, there were some impressive feats and surprises that are worth noting. My predictions this time around were much better than the first time around, predicting three of the four semifinal matchups correctly. I almost went three for four in my preseason prediction, had Nashville advanced. My preseason prediction had Tampa Bay beating Pittsburgh and Minnesota beating the Preds, with Tampa going on to hoist Lord Stanley in seven games.
Yeah well my ECF preseason prediction was right pic.twitter.com/2c9n0Sxrws
— Mike Cratty (@Mike_Cratty) May 11, 2016
(Predicted on 9/26/15)
Lightning strike in five games, again without Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman, JT Brown and Erik Condra
After taking down Detroit in five games, they did it again, against John Tavares and the New York Islanders. They have done this without their #1 center, a top pairing defenseman and a couple of bottom 6 forwards. This is pretty remarkable, the Wings and Islanders are no slouches, but Tampa has made it look that way. They will need to start the fire early against a tough Penguins team in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Dallas taking St. Louis the distance without Tyler Seguin
Not as impressive as what Tampa Bay did, partly because they lost the series, but still impressive nonetheless. After taking down the Wild without Seguin, Dallas took it the distance and gave arguably the best team in the West a rough seven game series. In the end, they lost because of the absence of a rising superstar, not so great defense and an inconsistent goalie tandem. St. Louis is a very good team, many, including myself, thought they would take the series in easier fashion. We were wrong, props to Dallas for battling hard.
Advantage Crosby, Matt Murray’s dominance continues, game 6 in Pittsburgh
Crosby wins. The first battle of the best since 2009 goes to Crosby, again. Ovi and the Caps are flustered yet again, in overtime of game 6 at the hands of former Boston University Terrier, Nick Bonino. It’s heartbreaking to see such a talented team with some worthy individuals go down in the fashion that they did. Matt Murray is on top of the world. To do what he is doing, mainly taking down the NHL’s best team in six games, at the age of 21 is incredible; he plays well beyond his years. This is a story Pens fans will remember forever. Now on to the weirdest period of hockey I have ever watched, the third period of game 6. The Pens went into the third period with a 3-1 lead that didn’t last. Justin Williams, who has a knack for making big plays in elimination games, cut the lead to 3-2. John Carlson eventually tied it up on a one-timer and sent it to OT. Chris Kunitz began the madness when he sent the puck out of play for a delay of game penalty. Ok, no biggy. The eventual hero, Nick Bonino took another one 1:06 later. What is going on?! Ok, stop showing off, Ian Cole, then made it three in a row :56 later. That’s baffling; the Pens took three delay of game penalties in 2:02, that’s got to be a record.
Sharks on top across the board
As the Sharks prepare for the Western Conference Finals, a few of their players lead the major offensive categories. Joe “Captain America” Pavelski is tied in goals with Nikita Kucherov with 9, Brent Burns leads with 11 assists and Logan Couture with 17 points. Martin Jones has been rock solid as well. This is why they gave up a first-round pick and an NCAA prospect for him. This team is really something and look primed to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup, if they can get past the pesky Blues.
Eastern Conference Finals
#2: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. #2: Pittsburgh Penguins: Pittsburgh in 7
Why: My preseason Eastern Conference Finals stands tall. I’d love to see Stamkos vs. Crosby if at all possible. It is possible that it may not be, blood clots are no laughing matter, and there is no sense in rushing them. These are two very good, fast-paced teams that will duke it out every second of every game and provide a lot of entertainment. Will getting some, if not all of these missing pieces back, throw off their rhythm? Probably not, but they’re doing fine without them. Nonetheless, Pittsburgh in seven.
Western Conference Finals
#2: St. Louis Blues vs. #3: San Jose Sharks: San Jose in 7
Why: Jumbo Joe and the boys are hungry for hardware and although the Blues bring plenty to the table, the Sharks will bring more. I wouldn’t say they can smell the blood of the Blues, because Blue notes don’t bleed, but they will be ready. I am very much looking forward to this series. Vladimir Tarasenko will have a tough task with Chewbacca in his grill, Brent Burns. The Blues will go home singing the Blues unfortunately, chasing that elusive Stanley Cup, in seven games.
Stanley Cup Finals
#2: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #3: San Jose Sharks: San Jose in 7
Why: This one is tough. These are the two most fun teams to watch in my opinion, this series could go either way and I am torn on picking a winner. With that being said, the Cup is going back to Cali, Joe Thornton and the boys get the Cup that they have long waited for. The Sharks will finally silence the doubters, while having awesome facial hair.
Conn Smythe: Joe Pavelski
Why: He has been the best player in the playoffs thus far and will continue to be. He is finally getting the extensive recognition he deserves, after being the most underrated player in the league in my opinion. Making him the captain was an excellent choice and has taken a lot of pressure off of Jumbo Joe. Hats off to you, Joe.
(Information as of 5/13/16 12:39 PM)
*Image Source: thescore.com