(Ed. Note: No headlines this evening as we're knee-deep in previews hell. Just know that Kris Draper's out for Games 1 and 2; Shanahan and Holik are debating whether the crushing disappointment of Game 7 will be their finals NHL game; and that a guy who was just nominated for "the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey" is leaving his team for the KHL.)
OK, I look like a slightly dumber dummy for having picked the Blues over the Canucks. That said, Buccigross and Darren Pang are reading my bumper stickers right now.
We'll bring back the full staff selections for the finals. But for Round 2 ...
Bruins in 6 -- The Carolina Hurricanes are a dangerous team because Cam Ward is playing lights-out and because the Eric Staal line has been really strong. But a healthy dose of Zdeno Chara could cause problems for the top line; and the Bruins have enough up front to get to Ward. As long as the Bruins don't allow Carolina to dictate the pace, they'll be in the finals.
Penguins in 6 -- There are so many variables at play in this series, it's almost unpredictable. This pick is definitely influenced by what I saw in the first round; Washington needs Mike Green engaged offensively, Simeon Varlamov to steal a game or two and Alexander Ovechkin to score those tide-turning goals for which he's famous. The Penguins, meanwhile, have to play the same brand of no-nonsense hockey that won them Games 4 and 6 against Philly, and hope that this "Russian Cam Ward" meme ends after one round. I think the Penguins can match the Capitals physically, offensively and in goal. And I think the Penguins are just a little better right now in all three of those phases. But with so much on the line, with so much history between the franchises ... anything can happen.
Red Wings in 7 -- If Jonas Hiller hasn't made you a believer yet, then you're not staying up late enough East Coasters. The dude is locked in, and the Getzlaf line has been the best in the playoffs. The Ducks have the veteran savvy to push this thing to the brink; what they don't have is Detroit's depth, which is going to win out in the end. The Sharks proved to be about as deep as a Britney Spears poetry reading, and that's one reason Anaheim's here.
Canucks in 5 -- Yeah, I'm on the bandwagon. Unless there's an unforeseen flake on the horizon, Roberto Luongo's in a dominating mode in these playoffs. I love Vancouver on home ice, too; now watch'em blow Game 1 tonight.
Bruins in 5 -- I think they're on a mission, the way they've been playing all season. Carolina got pretty lucky against the Devils. I think they're going to be knocked on their ass because of the Bruins' physicality. They're going to bring the pain.
Penguins in 7 -- I hate making this pick. The NHL's going to get what they want in this series. The Pens are on too big of a roll right now. I just don't see how the Caps defense puts up with what the Penguins can bring.
Red Wings 6 -- The Red Wings are too deep. The Ducks have a good blue line, but can't keep up.
Canucks in 5 -- The Blackhawks are too young, too green. The Canucks are loaded. You gotta stop the Sedins, Sundin, try and kick the [expletive] out of Burrows and Kesler. And then all you have to do is beat Luongo.