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Friday, May 15, 2009

The Week In Review: Eastern and Western Conference Semis


Penguins beat Capitals 6-2, win series 4-3

Well... Sidney and Malkin proved to be too much for Ovechkin, Semin and Varlamov after all. Unfortunately I will have to give the Penguins some credit here- they threw everything they had at Washington and were able to deal with a key injury (to Sergei Gonchar), and still take the series. I think that, although they're losing quite a few more playoff games this year than last, they are becoming a much more balanced team in terms of both talent and experience, as the Red Wings have been for the past, oh, decade or so.

Hurricanes beat Bruins 3-2 (OT), win series 4-3

Who saw this coming?! Indeed, the Bruins actually had to fight from a 3-1 series deficit (which they did marvelously) and keep the dream alive, but alas, they couldn't do it forever, and got caught by an unbelievably hot Carolina team. Pretty impressive stuff by the 'Canes, a team that was in danger of falling out of playoff contention relatively late in the regular season.

So it's Pittsburgh-Carolina in the Eastern Conference Finals, and according to NHL.com, it's going to be a test of similarities. Both teams are aggressive and have plenty of firepower to spare, and it will be very interesting to see how they fare in this series. Also look to the goalies- in the battle of Cam Ward v. Marc-Andre Fleury, I'd like to give Ward the edge.


Red Wings beat Ducks, 4-3; win series 4-3

This was not the decisive win perhaps some Red Wings fans would have envisioned. Indeed, the Ducks played every bit as hard (and sometimes harder) than the Wings, and rallied in yet another Game 7 in these playoffs. They tied Detroit just below midway through the third period and all seemed set to go to OT- but an unfortunate play in which Daniel Cleary ultimately forced the puck past Jonas Hiller's pads sealed the deal for the Wings. (Damn it.) Even so, you have to give so much credit to Anaheim for fighting hard and staying in the game as long as they did, and for forcing Detroit into much more than just a Game Seven- but into a huge sigh of relief at the end of it.

Blackhawks beat Canucks, 7-5; win series 4-1

Well, here comes the Hawks, the mighty Blackhawks, indeed. They handily picked off a strong Canucks team- granted, a Canucks team that looked far from stupendous in this series, but even so, it's nothing to sneeze at. This young and strong team has been on a tear in these playoffs, and now they're faced with a great matchup- another Original Six team, the Red Wings!

This is going to be very, very interesting to see... a young team like the Hawks against a tried-and-true Red Wings team, and it can honestly go either way- the Hawks can take the Wings by surprise, or Detroit can show Chi-town a thing or two about winning a playoff series. Not to mention a wonderful rivalry that brews between these two teams, no doubt from meeting more often than any other two teams in the NHL. Expect another goalie battle again- Chris Osgood v. Nikolai Khabibulin.

Just a side note... if the Penguins and Wings beat their respective opponents in these Conference Finals, they will meet each other for the second consecutive time in the Stanley Cup Finals. Just something to keep in mind.


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