And now we're down to four.
After two rounds of intensely entertaining playoff hockey, we are now treated to two very exciting matchups in the conference finals. Each series has their share of intriguing storylines, which will undoubtedly be pounding into the ground by the media, over and over again.
Chicago and Detroit play similar styles of wide-open hockey, backed up by iffy goaltending. Should be a high scoring, long series. Of course you have Chris Chelios, still playing at age 76, and every time he hits the ice we'll get to hear how many playoff games he's appeared in. Chicago has really young talent! I'll be openly rooting for Chicago from the first drop of the puck, which will be much easier than rooting for Anaheim. I just felt dirty after that the Wings and Ducks series.
Pittsburgh will take Carolina, this year's Cinderella team. Did you know that each team has a Staal brother? We'll also get treated to endless stories on the NHL Golden Boy, and how he outdueled the brash Alex Ovechkin. (To be honest, I've actually been really impressed with Crosby this postseason.)
The NHL has also released the full schedule for each series. There are several two day gaps between games, and these playoffs have the potential to go EXTREMELY long. I know that there are always scheduling issues, mainly when it comes to concerts and the like at local arenas, but the NHL is dangerously approaching NBA playoffs territory.
The latest the playoffs can end is June 15.
Follow the jump to read what is being said around SB Nation this morning, as well as to see Defending Big D's wholly unbiased and completely random picks for the conference finals.
Western Conference Finals
#2 Detroit Red Wings Vs. #4 Chicago Blackhawks
Winging it in Motown | Second City Hockey
Brandon: Chicago in six. (Please, please, please.)
Gravypan: Blackhawks in 6 (Pahlsson avenges his former teammates)
Derek: Blackhawks in 7
|Sunday, May 17||at Detroit, 3:00 p.m.||NBC, TSN, RDS|
|Tuesday, May 19||at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.||VERSUS, TSN, RDS|
|Friday, May 22||at Chicago, 8:00 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
|Sunday, May 24||at Chicago, 3:00 p.m.||NBC, CBC, RDS|
|* Wednesday, May 27||at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
|* Saturday, May 30||at Chicago, 8:00 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
|* Monday, June 1||at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
With 4 Cups between them (3 for Ozzie and 1 for Khabby) and enough minutes played to constitute two months, these two netminders are by far the most experienced ones remaining in the playoffs. Are they the best left? No, probably not. But they both get the job done and benefit from good/great defenses in front of them. The...I can't believe I'm gonna say this..."Crafty veterans" have playoff experience and know how to get it done in the big time.
And I know Reagan gets a lot of credit for taking down the USSR but we all know that's bullshit right? There are two real reasons the Soviet Union fell:
The 1980 US Olympic Hockey team and Rocky IV
So now that the Hawks know for sure they've got to pick up the training in the barn out in Siberia, go for runs in the snow and lose the KGB agents following them, lift up their friends and loved ones in carts, help with an overturned sled, drag Paulie around on some other sled like an ox, do insane sit-ups from the second floor of the barn and climb some mountains.
Eastern Conference Finals
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins Vs. #6 Carolina Hurricanes
Pensburgh | Canes Country
Brandon: Canes in six
Gravypan: Canes in 7 (The Game 7 magic continues for Cam Ward)
Derek: Penguins in six
|Monday, May 18||at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.||VERSUS, TSN, RDS|
|Thursday, May 21||at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.||VERSUS, TSN, RDS|
|Saturday, May 23||at Carolina, 7:30 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
|Tuesday, May 26||at Carolina, 7:30 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
|* Friday, May 29||at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
|* Sunday, May 31||at Carolina, 7:30 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
|* Tuesday, June 2||at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
While the reporters and sports talk hosts will spend their time analyzing if Carolina will stop Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, beating to death the brother-against-brother matchup between Eric and Jordan Staal, and comparing young goaltending aces Cam Ward and Marc-Andre Fleury, Carolina fans will set their sights on one player.
Since the Carolina Hurricanes' inception into the NHL in 1997, the Penguins have more or less played them to a stalemate. Out of 110 games played over 11 seasons, the Penguins hold the slight edge with a 50-46-3 record. There's also 11 ties on record which, given the new NHL rules, may lack consideration in today's day and age.
Of course, back in the early days Carolina was an expansion team ripe with goaltending talent along the likes of Sean Burke, Kirk McLean and Trevor Kidd.