With the exception of one series, the second round wasn’t exactly as exhilarating as the first round. Two sweeps in the East left little excitement in its wake, though the West semis still had plenty of intrigue. Let’s recap each series now.
1) Vancouver Canucks vs. 5) Nashville Predators
Summary in one line: In the end, Vancouver’s defense made the difference.
What I said: Nashville in 6 | What really happened: Vancouver in 6
Recap: In what was a very tight and physical series, Nashville’s hard working style of play just couldn’t overcome Vancouver’s superior talent more than twice. A killing factor for Nashville was its powerplay, a dreadful 1 for 21 in the series, and while Pekke Rinne did everything he could to keep Nashville in each and every game in this series, it ultimately wasn’t enough as Nashville’s defense faltered and its offense couldn’t bail it out.
Credit must be given to Vancouver’s defense and penalty kill for keeping Vancouver in check for most of the series. Roberto Luongo was also very solid aside from possibly Game 5. Vancouver will now get a little bit of a rest after a frightening seven-game series against Chicago and this hard-fought series against Nashville.
2) San Jose Sharks vs. 3) Detroit Red Wings
Summary in one line: Another year, same result. Kinda.
What I said: San Jose in 7 | What really happened: San Jose in 7
Recap: Compared to last year, Detroit had a full week’s more rest going into this series into San Jose. After three games, it didn’t seem to matter as San Jose went up 3 games to none again. Then Detroit finally figured out a way to win late. A key goal late in Game 4 kept their season going. Three unanswered goals in Game 5 late caused a little worry. Two clutch goals late in Game 6 caused some panic in San Jose. After only happening six times in the NHL’s 90+ year history, a team down 3-0 was going to force a Game 7 twice in one postseason. Surely Detroit’s fortunes wouldn’t be the same as Chicago’s, right? Nope.
After falling behind 3-1 in Game 7, Pavel Datsyuk was able to score yet another clutch goal to bring the Wings back to within one. However, finally San Jose was able to maintain their ground, and combined with Detroit’s power play going cold in the final game; San Jose was able to finally knock off Detroit for a second straight season in what was a thrilling final two games in the series. San Jose and Vancouver have something to relate with going into what could very well be an exciting Western Conference Final.
1) Washington Capitals vs. 5) Tampa Bay Lightning
Summary in one line: Capitals could not stop overpowering Lightning.
What I said: Tampa Bay in 7 | What really happened: Tampa Bay in 4
Recap: In my preview of this series, I noted that Washington’s downfall could very well come from its shaky goaltending against an offensively competent Lightning team. Steven Stamkos did in fact “wake up”, and he along with the rest of the Lightning torched the Capitals for 16 goals in the four game sweep.
Alexander Ovechkin did everything he could in the series, scoring a few key goals to keep Washington in several of the games. However, the rest of the team just could not follow suit, and the Capitals suffer yet another early-round loss despite its conference seeding (though to be fair, Tampa Bay had been ahead of Washington in the standings for most of the season). For a second straight season, one team eliminates both the Penguins and Capitals, though these Lightning are a far cry from the “have Halak do everything” Canadiens from a year ago.
2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. 3) Boston Bruins
Summary in one line: No comeback this year, Bruins take care of business in Game 4.
What I said: Boston in 6 | What really happened: Boston in 4
Recap: Just like San Jose went up 3-0 on Detroit for a second straight year, Boston also went up 3 games to none against the Flyers. Last year, Philadelphia was able to overcome the deficit thanks in part to surprisingly strong goaltending from Michael Leighton and key injuries to Boston to win the series in seven games. No such luck for the Flyers this year.
Its goaltending-by-committee, which somehow worked against Buffalo, completely fell apart against the Bruins, giving up 20 goals in the four game sweep. Tim Thomas, who I remind did NOT start for Boston last year, did very well in this series, especially at home by only giving up two goals in the two games in Boston. Perhaps most importantly was that Boston’s power play, 0-for Boston’s first nine playoff games, finally connected in Game 3 (albeit on a 5 on 3 near the end of the game when Boston already had the win locked), and then again in Game 4. If Boston truly has figured its power play out, it will be a big advantage for them going into their series against Tampa Bay.