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A look at potential 2nd round matchups

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With two Game 7’s left to play, we are that much closer to finalizing the second round matchups. Here are the scenarios:

Western Conference:

1) San Jose Sharks vs. 4) Phoenix Coyotes OR 5) Detroit Red Wings

Obviously, this matchup is dependent on tonight’s game. It’s tough to say which team would be the better matchup for the San Jose Sharks, although you have to think that the Sharks would see the younger and inexperienced Coyotes as a better chance to make it out of the second round. Either way, neither the Coyotes or Red Wings will be a pushover for the Sharks. I’ll start researching Joe Thornton’s statistics versus each team shortly, although I’ll just have to throw his regular-season numbers out the window.

2) Chicago Blackhawks vs. 3) Vancouver Canucks

This is a dream scenario for those of us that love fast paced, exciting hockey. While the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t exactly look impenetrable against the Predators, a big series against the firepower of the Sedins and (um) Mikael Samuelsson could be exactly what they’ll need to prove they’re prepared for what’s supposed to be a Stanley Cup run.

Eastern Conference (these are possible matchups based on either a Caps or Habs win in Game 7)

4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 6) Boston Bruins (Caps win) OR 8) Montreal Canadiens (Habs win)

A Habs win in Game 7 would make the Penguins the the highest seeded team left in the conference (who saw that coming?), and make for an absolute ratings bananza between two of the biggest fanbases in the NHL. Although we wouldn’t get to see another Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin rematch in the conference finals (sniff), it gives the Penguins a supposedly much easier road back to the Stanley Cup. While Jaroslav Halak was been great, I’m guessing the Penguins are watching these last few games on television thinking “gee, we really do NOT want to play against Tuukka Rask in the second round.”

1) Washington Capitals vs. 7) Philadelphia Flyers (Caps win)

If the Washington Capitals win in Game 7, then the Philadelphia Flyers’ Cinderella season is in serious jeopardy. While taking out the New Jersey Devils in the first round was one heck of a feat, taking on Ovechkin and the Capitals is a different animal altogether. After facing the absolute terror of Jaroslav Halak in the first round, Brian Boucher will be a much more welcome change of pace even if Boucher did outduel Martin Brodeur.

6) Boston Bruins vs. 7) Philadelphia Flyers (Habs win)

It’s amazing that the two teams that barely backed into the playoffs (although the Bruins certainly turned it on at the end) could be facing off in the second round. The Bruins and Flyers took out the Sabres and the Devils, two of the most consistent and successful teams this season, in a clear sign of just how unpredictable the NHL playoffs are.