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March 24, 2019
Second Round Preview
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (6) VS MONTREAL CANADIENS (1)
Montreal struggled with the man-advantage in the first round. Despite facing the 28th-ranked Boston kill, the Habs could only muster three goals on 33 chances (9.1%). The Flyers, on the other hand, ripped Washington for eight goals on 36 tries (22.2%).
Their penalty-killing units were also fairly close during the regular season, with the Flyers finishing 10th (83.2%) and the Canadiens ranking 15th (82.5%). But whichever team can slow down the other's power play should prevail. And I don't like the odds of Montreal's man-advantage struggling two rounds in a row, especially with Saku Koivu and Mark Streit healthy.
Players to Watch: It's still all about Carey Price. Against Boston, the kid surrendered 10 goals over Games Five and Six and still rebounded like a champ in Game Seven, stopping 25 shots to blank the Bears 5-0. And even with the two drubbings, he somehow managed a fine .925 save percentage for the series.
And I think Joffrey Lupul will remain an important name for the Flyers. He's wicked streaky. The Game Seven winner could be the start of something good. Or not. It could go either way, really. But "Joffrey"? Really? Shouldn't he have a sweater tied around his neck? At least if the Flyers lose, he'll have more time to relax at the yacht club.
Prediction: Montreal's power play is primed to explode. And Philadelphia isn't scared to take stupid penalties. And come playoff time, the Habs have the best home-ice advantage this side of the Fortress of Solitude.
Montreal in five.
COLORADO AVALANCHE (6) VS DETROIT RED WINGS (1)
Once the best rivalry in sports, Colorado-Detroit has fallen on hard times in recent years, but this will be the perfect way to rekindle the hatred. The rivalry was actually reborn the moment Peter Forsberg announced he would never sign with Detroit. It was magnificent. It served as a reminder to all hockey fans what life's all about. (Sunshine) Detroit!
Nicklas Lidstrom will likely be responsible for matching up against Forsberg, Paul Stastny, and Milan Hejduk. Adam Foote will draw the assignment of shutting down Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. If the two top lines cancel out, Colorado still has Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth, Andrew Brunette, and Wojtek "The Polish Hammer" Wolski. Advantage Colorado.
Players to Watch: Yeah, Zetterberg and Datsyuk are exciting, but this is really all about Sakic and Forsberg taking what could be their final kick at the can. They've always been the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of the NHL. And now they're in Bolivia. So enjoy it while it lasts.
Colorado isn't a terrible matchup at all for the Wings. They're pretty equal across the board, but I still think the Avs have better scoring depth up front. In the end, it will come down to goaltending.
Dominik Hasek is shot. It's over for The Flopinator. And Chris Osgood? Really? C'mon. He's so bad, he's terrible. Granted, he stopped 53 of 54 against the Preds, but that's an AHL offense on its best days. Time to put on your big boy pants, Ossie.
Jose Theodore was spectacular against the Wild, posting a .940 save percentage. It's a trend, not a fluke. After January 1, Theodore closed out the regular season with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. And doesn't his hair look nice? Osgood better not pull it when they fight at center ice.
Colorado in six.