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Stanley Cup Playoffs (JOHN LEHMANN/JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Stanley Cup Playoffs (JOHN LEHMANN/JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

NHL PLAYOFFS

Breaking down the Conference Semi-finals Add to ...

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 2 Philadelphia Flyers (47-23-12) vs. No. 3 Boston Bruins (46-25-11)



2010-11 season series: 3-0-1 Boston.

Breakdown: This is the opponent the Bruins wanted, since it's a chance for revenge after they blew a 3-0 series lead against the Flyers last year and saw them march all the way to the Stanley Cup final after a comeback win. Somehow, the Flyers managed to get past the Buffalo Sabres despite having to use three goaltenders over the series. Brian Boucher will have to get his game in order for the Flyers since goaltender Tim Thomas of the Bruins slammed the door on Montreal in the last two games after a couple ups-and-downs. Neither team has much of a power play, with Boston going 0-for-21 against Montreal. That plus the fact the Flyers will have Chris Pronger for the whole series could be the difference here.

Shoalts pick: Flyers in 7.

( First round record: 2-2)



No. 1 Washington Capitals (48-23-11) vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning (46-25-11).



2010-11 season series: 4-1-1 Washington.

Breakdown: The matchup between two of the best snipers in the NHL is the biggest thing in this series. Washington's Alexander Ovechkin scored a mediocre (for him) 32 goals in the regular season while Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay had 45. But Ovechkin caught fire in the final weeks of the season and Stamkos tailed off in the second half, which makes this interesting. Neither player lit it up in the first round, although Ovechkin (three goals in five games) was one of the best players in the series and Stamkos' two goals in Game 5 were what sparked the Bolts to come back and beat Pittsburgh. The series also pits the NHL's oldest goalie, 41-year-old Dwayne Rolson, against Caps' rookie Michal Neuvirth.

Shoalts pick: Caps in 6.



WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Vancouver Canucks (54-19-9) vs. No. 5 Nashville Predators (44-27-11)



2010-11 season series: Tied 2-2.

Breakdown: The opener went Vancouver's way in a 1-0 shutout and who was surprised? Roberto Luongo had a stingy 1.76 GAA in the regular-season split; Pekka Rinne responded with an even more impressive 1.26 mark. Nashville plays the game with metronomic consistency and will pounce if the Canucks ever their composure flag the way it did at times vs. Chicago. Otherwise, Vancouver's talent will allow them to prevail.

Duhatschek pick: Vancouver in 6.

No. 2 San Jose Sharks (48-25-9) vs. No. 3 Detroit Red Wings (47-25-10)



2010-11 season series: 3-1 San Jose.

Breakdown: With Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen back from injury, the Red Wings will have all their key hands back on deck for the second round, providing formidable scoring balance up front. San Jose shed some long-standing playoff demons by knocking off the Wings in last year's second round, but looked curiously fragile in the opening round vs. the Los Angeles Kings. In a series too close to call, the difference may be in goal. Antti Niemi has won a Stanley Cup; Jimmy Howard has not.

Duhatschek pick: San Jose in 7

(First round record: 4-0)



 

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