I went five-for-eight in my first round picks, nailing San Jose and Calgary, while guess--err, predicting the correct result within one game for Detroit, Toronto, and Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, Boston blew a 3-1 lead, New Jersey couldn't get it up against Philly, and my Stars played like absolute shit.
With about five minutes until the first puck drops in the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, here are my conference semifinal picks.
Metaphorically speaking, Curtis Joseph might be a better fit as a member of the Coyotes right now, as he's certainly a Phoenix which has risen from the ashes. This is his first serious chance at the #1 job in Detroit in nearly a full calendar year, and I have a feeling he's going to run with it. Calgary will battle, but Iginla and Kiprusoff alone won't be able to win them any more than two games. (Former Stars --> Derian Hatcher & Brett Hull)
Colorado and San Jose are probably the two most rested teams in the league right now. The Avalance barely broke a sweat while eliminating my Stars, while the Sharks managed to send the Blues packing just as quickly. This series will be a dogfight from the very beginning, but like Detroit, the Avs will just have too many marquee players for the Sharks to deal with.
Teemu Selanne will finally make his presence known, especially if his friend Paul Kariya comes back from his ankle injury when the series returns to Denver for Games 3 & 4. (Former Star --> Mike Keane)
Home ice and rest will be the difference maker in what's sure to be a tooth-and-nail series between Philadelphia and Toronto. The Leafs wrapped up an emotional seven game series with Ottawa just two days ago, while the Flyers paid the hated Devils' greens fees last Saturday. Leafs' captain Mats Sundin will certainly come back and play hurt, helping the Buds to force a seventh game, but fatigue will keep Toronto from moving on. (Former Star --> Coach Ken Hitchcock)
Montreal came back from the dead to beat Original Six rival Boston, but make no mistake, they are not this year's Minnesota Wild. Jose Theodore is good, but a tad bit inconsistent, something definitely inadvisable when speedster Martin St. Louis is on the ice. Nikolai Khabibulin, on the other hand, lived up to his "Bulin Wall" moniker last series, allowing only five Islanders goals in 5+ games. The Lightning will have no trouble dispatching the Canadiens, making the NHL Final Four a Star-Spangled party. (Former Star --> Brad Lukowich)