Saturday, May 15, 2010

Stanley Cup Playoff predictions: Conference Finals

By Rick Morris

Montreal over Philadelphia in 6: It's impossible to belabor how weird and historic this series is -- from a 7-8 matchup (meaning Philly gets home ice for the first time this round and Montreal has its easiest battle on paper by far this round) to the Flyers becoming the third team in league history and only the fourth team in major sports history to come back from an 0-3 deficit to win (plus coming back from an 0-3 deficit in Game 7 alone!) to the all-time great upsets already lodged by the Habs in the first two rounds. These teams will be bringing it with maximum intensity at all times given what they have already endured and no trend in progress during the series can be taken for granted in terms of continuation. Although invoking logic seems almost absurb given the paths taken to get here, Montreal's apparent large edge in net (given that they are NOT down to their third-string option) looms as the biggest differential between the teams and that is always a critical one.

Chicago over San Jose in 7: While the league office is popping cyanide pills about being deprived of a Pittsburgh/Washington tilt in the conference finals, in a hockey sense if not a mainstream attention sense they are getting something just as good in this matchup. The powerful Sharks finally look as though they can be taken at face value in the postseason, while the explosive young Hawks have unmatched offensive depth and slightly better production overall on the blue line. Neither team should be overwhelming in net, meaning that there could be more than a few 6-5 shootouts coming here and also meaning that either team could be vulnerable to a big upset should they catch the awesome-in-net Montreal squad in the Finals.

Montreal over Chicago in 6

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