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Still Watching? Both Series Start Today, So A Quick Preview

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Blackhawks vs Sharks

Game Time: 12:00 PST

TV: CBC, NBC, RDS

Season Series: 3-1 Chicago

Leading Playoff Scorers: Sharks: Joe Pavelski (9-6-15), Jonathan Toews (6-14-20)

SBN Sites: Fear The Fin, Battle Of California, Second City Hockey

Au contraire to the East, the top 2 seeds in the West meet in the semi-finals. Chicago's speed against San Jose's size. San Jose is going to work the Hawks along the boards and bang them around. The Hawks will frustrate the Sharks with their aggressive and speedy transition. San Jose has generally followed their game plan in these playoffs where the Hawks have had bouts of schitzophrenia. Both teams are built to win now.

COMPARATIVE STATS IN THESE PLAYOFFS

Goals Per game: Hawks 3.33 (3rd), Sharks 3.09 (7th)

Goals Against Per Game: Sharks 2.54 (2nd), Hawks 2.75 (5th)

5 on 5: Hawks 1.05 (6th), Sharks 0.95 (9th)

Power Play: Hawks 21.6% (7th), Sharks 19.3% (10th)

Penalty Kill: Hawks 88.7% (2nd), Sharks 84.2% (4th)

Winning % When Scoring First: Sharks 100%, Hawks 85.7%

Winning % When Leading After 1: Sharks 100%, Hawks 100%

More Stats here.

Prediction: Chicago in 7

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Canadiens vs Flyers

Game Time: 4:00 PST

TV: CBC, Versus, RDS

Season Series: 2-2

Leading Playoff Scorers: Canadiens: Michael Cammalleri (12-6-18), Flyers: Mike Richards (5-12-17)

SBN Sites: Eyes On The Prize, Broad Street Hockey

Can you believe the 7th and 8th seeds in the East are meeting in the semis? The Flyers get home ice advantage. Nuts I say. Congrats to them for pulling off that 3-0 series comeback and capping it off by erasing a 3-0 score in game 7. That was entertaining as hell. There is no quit in them. The Habs are going as far as Jaroslav Halak will take them. He is playing over his head. How much more magic does he have left? The same applies to Michael Cammalleri, who has 12 goals in 14 games in these playoffs. The NHL record is 19. This is another series where one team (the Flyers obviously) is a fair bit bigger than the other. Bob Gainey went the direction of speed by acquiring Gomez, Gionta and Cammalleri.

COMPARATIVE STATS

Goals Per Game: Flyers 3.08 (8th), Canadiens 2.79 (10th)

Goals Against Per Game: Flyers 2.42 (1st), Canadiens 2.86 (9th)

5 On 5: Flyers 1.29 (5th), Canadiens 1.04 (7th)

Power Play: Flyers 21.7% (6th), Canadiens 21.6% (8th)

Penalty Kill: Canadiens 85.5% (3rd), Flyers 83.6% (5th)

Winning % When Scoring First: Flyers 80%, Canadiens 77.8%

Winning % When Leading After 1: Canadiens 80%, Flyers 75%

More stats here.

Prediction: Flyers in 6.

What are your predictions? Who do you want to advance and win it all? Usually I pick the Canadian team in a situation like this, but I can't bring myself to cheer for the Habs right now. As treacherous as it sounds, I'm pulling for the Hawks, but most of all I want to see some excellent hockey.