After having a successful first round, correctly picking seven of eight series, two of four in the second round was fairly mediocre. The choices in the conference finals doesn't get any easier. Both series are virtual tossups and could go either way.
Make the jump to check out the picks and previews for the East...
Bruins (3) vs, Lightning (5)...
The opening game is going to be very important for both teams after the long layoff waiting for the Western Conference to finish. It is such a close match that if either team shows up looking particularly rusty and suffers a loss in the opening game, it could be the difference in what I expect to be a long series.
Boston and Tampa are both 8-3 in the postseason. Tampa (3.46) is first in the post season in goals per game while Boston (3.36) is second. On defense, they are tied for first with a 2.18 goals allowed average per game. The Bruins have had 33.8 shots per game while they have allowed 34.4. Tampa has had only 26.7 shots while giving up 35.5.
Special teams will be what experts will be watching in this series as Tampa has converted on 26.7% of their power play chances and their penalty kill is at 94.4%. Boston's man advantage has been anemic at 5.4% while their kill has run at 80.5%. Boston has to play discipline and stay on the five on five where they have the advantage 2.38 to 1.15 in for/against ratio.
The match-up in goal will be interesting between two of the older goalies to face off recently, this deep in the playoffs. Both Tim Thomas (8-3-0, 2.03, .937) and Dwayne Roloson (8-3-0, 2.01, .941) are ranked first and second in GAA and Save %. Both goalies have been key to their teams in the playoffs. Roloson is playing as well as he did during his Cup run with Edmonton in 2006 before he was injured in the finals. Thomas is playing as well as he did during the season that made him a favorite for the Vezina Trophy.
Both teams have injury issues with Patrice Bergeron out with a concussion for Boston and Simone Gagne and Pavel Kubina both recovering and hoping to play in the series.
Coaching will be a contrast with the Bruins being led by veteran coach Claude Julien and Tampa having NHL rookie Guy Boucher.
This series may depend on which goalie gets hotter and is able to shut down the other team. I think that it is close enough for the series to go seven games with several one goal games and possibly multiple over time efforts.
Tampa Bay in seven
Jackson also went seven of eight in the opening round and was a rare person to pick three of four correctly in the second round, missing only on ther Caps and Bolts. I'm still awaiting final word on his picks for round three.
Tampa Bay in six
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass