(2) Detroit Red Wings vs. (4) Chicago Blackhawks
I case I haven't mentioned it before, I hate the Detroit Red Wings. In every round thus far, I've wanted to pick against 'em (especially in the semis against the Ducks, who I really had a feeling might take 'em...and came close, taking them to seven games), but haven't quite had the guts to do so. This, however, is where that changes.
I might be going with my heart over my head here, but I'm picking Chicago, and here's why: While the prevailing feeling seems to be that, similar to what happened to last year's Penguins team, the Blackhawks are young and lack the experience of their opponent, and will be on the mat facing an eight-count before they know what hit them. The problem with that theory is that these Blackhawks have already played the Red Wings six times this season, winning two and losing four, with two of the losses coming via shootout. They're familiar, and they know what to expect.
Also, the Red Wings, despite the addition of gutless cockwallet Marian Hossa, seem a little less dominant than they did last year, and all of their already old-ass lineup is even older. I think they're ripe for the picking. Blackhawks in seven.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (6) Carolina Hurricanes
So many little subplots in this one. The brothers Staal going at it with a trip to the finals at stake. Bill Cowher turning his back on his old home team and embracing the Hurricanes. But little actual hate. In fact, having spent years in living North Carolina, the Canes are one of those teams I generally root for when the Penguins aren't involved. Hell, I even created the banner for David Lee's Red and Black Hockey blog back before he migrated to Kukla's Korner. That said, I expect the warm fuzzy feelings to dissipate pretty quickly once the teams take the ice (and I already find another of their bloggers supremely annoying).
Both teams play a similar style and create a lot of offense, although I'd give a decided edge to the Pens skill players and their ability to score consistently. I think this series comes down to Cam Ward. If he can take over games the way he's capable and steal one, the Penguins may be in trouble. But if Evgeni Malkin can get on a hot streak and start scoring goals the way he's capable, look out.
My pal and Canes fan Davis made a trek down to Raleigh back in early April for the final regular season game between these teams, and although the Pens lost 3-2 in overtime, it was easily one of the most entertaining games I've ever been to. If there's a game six, we plan to make the trek again...so it'd be absolutely insane for me to predict anything besides Penguins in six.
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