Well, the first round of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally over, so it’s time to make some predictions for the second round.

First round predictions here: https://mzrc.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/2014-15-nhl-stanley-cup-playoffs-predictions-conference-quarterfinals/

(1) New York Rangers vs. (2) Washington Capitals

The New York Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in 5 games, which, while it was the series length I expected, it was a lot closer series than I expected. Either team could have won any of the games – most ended up as 2-1 victories.

The Washington Capitals defeated the New York Islanders in seven games which is exactly as I predicted. So basically that sucks because we wanted the Islanders to win.

Like, how many times have we seen this series in the past seven years? I swear it always happens. Anyways, I have no reason to believe the Rangers won’t make it out of this round.

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (2) Tampa Bay Lightning

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators in 6 games, after going up 3-0 and not being able to finish it for two games.

The Tampa Bay Lightning took forever in eliminating the Detroit Red Wings in 7 games. Apparently their goaltending wasn’t good enough for the Tampa in 5 as predicted.

These two teams played last year in the first round with the Canadiens winning fairly easily. And since the Lightning seemed to barely beat the Wings, I’d have trouble thinking they could beat the Canadiens.

(1) Anaheim Ducks vs. (3) Calgary Flames

The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Winnipeg Jets in 4 games because they didn’t have the common decency to at least let the Jets win a home game before they beat them.

The Calgary Flames defeated the Vancouver Canucks in 6 games and caused Vancouver to explode. But that’s what they get for playing Eddie Lack instead of Ryan Miller.

This really should be similar to the Ducks/Jets series – I can’t see the Ducks losing. But it again won’t be fun for them, and I think the Flames should at least win a game or two. Also the whole Jonas Hiller vs. the Ducks thing.

(3) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (WC1) Minnesota Wild

The St. Louis Blues were eliminated in 6 games (sound familiar?), this year by the Minnesota Wild, proving yet again that the Blues can try to instigate, infuriate, and injure as many of the opposing players as they want, they will never win.

The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Nashville Predators in six games as expected, despite their poor defense. Yes, defense. Because you know, everyone’s talking about the goaltending. When I already pointed out that it had nothing to do with it. Multiple times. “OMG Crawford let up 9 goals in 4 periods he sucks he’s never playing again!” NOPE. How many of those goals were Crawford’s fault? At most, 3. Game 1. First goal was Roszival going left when he should have went right. Second goal was goalie interference which couldn’t be called because he was out of the net. Third goal was a PPG which is never the goalie’s fault unless it’s like an own goal. Game 2. First goal was a PPG. Second goal he couldn’t see it. Third goal, perhaps his fault. Fourth goal was Keith letting the puck go. Fifth and Sixth goals were Crawford’s fault but they were also irrelevant since once it was 4-2 they weren’t coming back so they didn’t matter. So Crawford let up a grand total of one bad goal that mattered. CASE CLOSED. And Darling being pulled in game 6 also wasn’t his fault – all of those were bad defense or PPGs. The next time you try to use the goalie as a scapegoat for what’s ACTUALLY wrong with the team, educate yourself to the real problems or get the fuck off the bandwagon. IF YOU ARE A GOALIE BLAMER YOU ARE NOT A HOCKEY FAN. YOU ARE A “MY CITY IS THE BEST BECAUSE IT’S THE CITY I LIVE IN/NEAR AND THAT ENTITLES ME TO CHAMPIONSHIPS OF ALL KINDS BECAUSE I’M SO BLOODY IMPORTANT AND IF A PUCK GOES IN THE NET THAT MEANS IT WAS THE GOALIE’S FAULT BECAUSE THAT’S HIS JOB.” Fuck off. We as real hockey fans don’t need you. You’re the type of fan that chants goalie names and tells the refs that they suck even when they make the right call or does the wave or doesn’t wait for the whistle. The type of fan that buys tickets in the bottom level even though you can’t see much, just to be able to say “Look at me I’m also at the Hawks game I’m cool!” even though you wouldn’t be caught dead there before 2010. “Crawford’s done in Chicago.” You’re going to be in for a rude awakening then when he’s the starting goalie for three more season. And in round 2. “Thanks for 2013 Crow, you are no longer the best option.” You’re in for a rude awakening if you think anyone’s besides Crawford is going to be in net if they win the Cup. Darling’s good but he’s still a rookie. And he’s not exactly going to be here longer than Crawford. Probably. If you want to be a fan of this team you’d better start supporting the best goalie they have, because that’s Crawford and you’re delusional.

So, we’re here at Blackhawks vs. Wild again for the third year in a row, with the Hawks having home ice now. It feels like that moment of “Everything is going according to plan” moments like last year. Now, if the Hawks can finally get over their defensive woes from this series and on, there’s no reason the Hawks can’t/won’t win this series. There’s nothing about Minnesota that makes me think “OMG the Hawks are done.” It’s really another case of the series with the Preds where the only thing that’s going to stop the Hawks from moving farther into the playoffs is the Hawks themselves. Nashville and Minnesota are fairly similar teams to me – I’m not sure which team I would give a scoring edge to. But the main difference is that Nashville has a better goalie. Dubnyk can be whatever it is he thinks he is now during this season, Pekka Rinne is still a superior goalie. And the Wild were having a terrible season before getting Dubnyk before everything turned around. How bad team + Devan Dubnyk = good team, I’ll never know. So, if the Hawks can get their defensive act together, there is no reason they should be losing this series. Especially with home ice.

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