Well, I’ve saved up my pennies and I’m ready to take a stab at making predictions on the next two series. Let’s take a look at the four teams left in the race for the Stanley Cup. What follows is a preview of the Conference Finals, including a chance to check out some of the best (or best looking) players on each team.
How they got here: Swept the Ottawa Senators in the first round and beat the New York Rangers in five games.
Most goals in playoffs: Evgeni Malkin (6)
Most assists in playoffs: Sidney Crosby (12)
Most points in playoffs: Malkin (14) / Crosby (14)
The Pens are 8-1 in the postseason. Pittsburgh will have home ice advantage as they face the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Considering they have had plenty of rest, Penguins fans are hoping they will not be too rusty as they try to improve on their 3-8 regular-season record against the Flyers.
How they got here: Beat the Washington Capitals in seven games and then eliminated the Montreal Canadiens in five.
Most goals in playoffs: R.J. Umberger (9)
Most assists in playoffs: Vaclav Prospal (9)
Most points in playoffs: Danny Briere (14)
Last year, they were the worst team in the NHL – now they are in the Eastern Conference Finals. Could the Flyers make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, as the Anaheim Ducks did during their 2002-2003 season under similar circumstances? Check out how the 2002-03 Anaheim Ducks and the 2007-08 Philadelphia Flyers both improved on their previous seasons:
- Season 2001-02 2002-03
- Points 69 95
- Record 29-42-8-3 40-27-9-6
- Place (div/conf) 5th/13th 2nd/7th
- Season 2006-07 2007-08
- Points 56 95
- Record 22-48-12 42-29-11
- Place (div/conf) 5th/15th 4th/6th
Even their goalie, Martin Biron, posted an assist against Washington in Game 7 on April 22nd – his first career point in a playoff game. Everyone’s in it to score!
ZOLTAR SAYS: Pittsburgh Penguins in six, because like his Father, Hockey Jesus rests on the seventh game.
Detroit Red Wings
How they got here: Beat the Nashville Predators in six and swept the Colorado Avalanche.
Most goals in playoffs: Johan Franzen (11)
Most assists in playoffs: Pavel Datsyuk (8) / Niklas Kronwall (8)
Most points in playoffs: Johan Franzen (14)
Award nominations abound for the Detroit Red Wings. Datsyuk was nominated for the Lady Byng and Selke Trophies, Henrik Zetterberg was also nominated for the Selke, Nicklas Lidstrom is up for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, and Mike Babcock was nominated for the Adams Award. Detroit already has won the President’s Trophy with a league-best 115 points.
How they got here: Beat the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks in six games both series.
Most goals in playoffs: Brenden Morrow (7)
Most assists in playoffs: Mike Ribeiro (11)
Most points in playoffs: Mike Ribeiro (14)
It took the Stars a fourth overtime in Game 6 of the series before they edged out the Sharks, so a rest is well-earned before they have to take the ice again. Brenden Morrow, appropriately, scored the game winner. Marty Turco made 61 saves. The Stars haven’t gone this deep in the playoffs since 2000.
ZOLTAR SAYS: Detroit Red Wings in five, on their way to the ultimate award – Lord Stanley’s Cup.