So my two Stanley Cup finalists are gone.
Washington and Calgary? You are laughing right now. Dancing With The Stars sucks too so we're even.
Now on to the conference finals.
Carolina vs. Pittsburgh: I was a believer long ago that the Canes are the hardest-working team in the NHL. They looked physically and emotionally spent letting that 3-1 series lead get away against Boston. Going back to Boston for Game 7, are you kidding?
Then they found stamina, somewhere. The longer the game went on, the longer the Canes looked like they were going to win it. I'm not going to tell you I thought Scott Walker was going to score his first career playoff goal but that's how Carolina wins. A Cam Ward stand-on-his-head job. An Eric Staal bull-in-a-china shop job. An out-of-nowhere goal by Walker. Ballgame.
What does it all mean in the third round? If Ward keeps it up, the Canes can steal this series. As brutal as the Washington series was, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had a lot of room most of the time. That won't happen against Carolina.
Paul Maurice might look like a librarian but he's proved to be more than a guy who is one game above .500 in his career in the regular season (377-376-99). The move in Game 7 to put Walker on Staal's line to replace Erik Cole was brilliant.
On the Pittsburgh side, I just can't believe Marc-Andre Fleury is going to come up big again. Just like 2006, it's the Canes' year.
Carolina in 7.
Chicago vs. Detroit: Does anyone else think the Wings are just getting going? When you can win a Game 7 without Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Holmstrom scoring you're doing something right.
Dan Cleary. Dan f------ Cleary?
Although it won't admit it, Chicago is in just-glad-to-be-here mode. The kids -- Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews -- can carry the Hawks only so far. Detroit can roll four lines. Chicago can roll, maybe, two.
And what is it about Chris Osgood that makes him turn into Wolverine during the playoffs? Ozzie looked absolutely soft down the stretch. Now all he has to do is dress. Lidstrom and the defense takes care of the rest.
Wings in 6.