Preview of the NHL Playoffs Conference Finals
This year's NHL playoffs has already seen some phenomenal action, with lots of game 7s, plenty of overtime, surprising upsets and star duels. The first two rounds are now behind us and the Conference Finals are finally set. Here's a preview of the Eastern and Western conference series.
Eastern Conference Finals – Carolina Hurricanes vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
In a rare match of a 4 seed versus a 6 seed in the conference finals, the Carolina Hurricanes will face the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins ravaged the Capitals in the last game of their series, and they bring the star power as well as the offensive firepower to the series. The Hurricanes bring veteran leadership, great goaltending and calm under fire. The season series was even at 2-2, with Carolina winning the last two games.
Pittsburgh will be looking to return to their second straight Stanley Cup Finals while Carolina will be looking to return after winning the Cup several seasons ago. While Pittsburgh has the home ice advantage, in winning crucial game 7s on the road against New Jersey and Boston, Carolina proved that they are more than capable of taking caring of business on the road.
Will they be able to shutdown the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin however? Cam Ward will need to be excellent in net for the Hurricanes to have a chance to win. From top to bottom, it is Carolina that is playing better hockey right now. However, Pittsburgh has the potential to be the better team. Smelling a return to the Finals, I think Crosby is going to continue his stellar play, even picking it up another level to lead his team past the scrappy underdogs. It won't be easy though, the Penguins will move past the Hurricanes in 7 games.
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Western Conference Finals – Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings
In this intriguing series between the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks, there is sure to be plenty of action. The Red Wings get a chance to continue their championship defense, while the Blackhawks get a chance to continue their magical run.
The two teams both play up tempo, high scoring hockey however their rosters couldn't be more different. Detroit is filled with veterans and European players, a star studded, championship experienced crew that is fazed by nothing and is incredibly deep. Chicago is led by youngsters who don't know aren't phased because they don't know any better.
Chicago has been a streaky club all postseason, known for getting into funks as well as three or foul goal scoring streaks. However, those off periods won't be so easy to come back from against the ultra experienced and talented Red Wings lineup. Chicago will make the series fun, stealing a game or possibly even 2, but from top to bottom Detroit will overwhelm them. Chicago needs Chris Osgood to collapse in net but it won't happen for the entire series. Detroit in 5 against the game but outgunned Blackhawks.
By Jake Emen
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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