Montreal Canadiens (8) vs Philadelphia Flyers (7)
Long story short, I think the Habs are just at the point where they’ve come too far to turn back. As I heard Josh Gorges say a few minutes ago on Sportscentre, the Canadiens have been playing “desperation hockey” for two months now. The difference between now and two months ago, however, is that somewhere along the line the team that was basically built from scratch last summer finally gelled.

Somewhere in Southern California or northern Finland, Saku Koivu is shaking his head. When the Canadiens let him go last summer it seemed as if they had lost their heart. But in his place came three great leaders – Brian Gionta, perhaps the cerebral leader of the squad; Scott Gomez, the one-ice general; and Michael Cammalleri, the most exciting player Habs fans have cheered for since probably  Stéphane Richer in the late-80s.

On the other side of the coin, Philly is spent. Yes, Montreal has won two-straight Game 7s after falling behind 3-1 vs Washington and Pittsburgh, respectively – but the Canadiens did it by dramatically knocking off the first and second seeds… and took out Alex Doucheveckin and Sidney Crosby along the way! On Philly’s end, yeah they came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Bruins, but it was knock-down, drag-out boring hockey that is the kind that sucks the life out of a team. Add to that the fact that they’re on their third goalie of the playoffs and their seventh of the season and you’ve got a fairy tale that’s about to end.

Neither of these teams are high-scoring and in the end, it just seems to me that Jaroslav Halak is going to outplay Michael Leighton – as good as Leighton was after stepping in for Brian Boucher in the last round. The question for me is whether Cammalleri will outplay the Flyers’ best player, Mike Richards. Maybe I’m being a homer here, but Cammalleri is the horse I’m going to run with this time around – Montrealers tend to shy away from believing in their sports heroes. I’m going to have faith in ours.

Habs in six.

Chicago Blackhawks (2) vs San Jose Sharks (1)
Look, Patrick Kane is a prick. Like right up there with the Alex Ovechkins, Sean Averys and the other big pricks of the NHL. Nothing would please me more than to see him lose. On the other side, Dany Heatley is a prick. Right up there with the Patrick Kanes of the world. Unfortunately, these are the guys who stand out the most on their respective teams.

I mean – did you see Kane’s “swim move” celebration after scoring against the Canucks? Seriously, wtf dude? Who do you think you are – Michael Phelps, but with the most asinine haircut this side of Vanilla Ice? It’s not cool, dude… you look like a complete asshole. No, really. Like I swear – I’m not hiding behind my blog… I want to meet you in person to tell you how stupid your haircut is. Please, if by chance you ever read this, email me and we’ll meet up and I’ll tell you. You can probably kick my ass – maybe, maybe not… but it’d be worth it. I’m not Perez Hilton, I won’t sue you. You can take a swing at me. I’m serious. You look like a prick.

There are good guys like Jonathan Toews on the Hawks and, well, I don’t really know much about Joe Thornton except that he apparently didn’t like playing in Boston, so that’s a point for him in my books. But in the end, it’s the jerks get the bills paid in Chicago and San Jose.

Nothing would please me more as a hockey fan than to see a guy like Kane cry his way home – hopefully without assaulting any cab drivers along the way, but in the end the Hawks are still the most exciting team in the game. Toews is a great captain, and their coach, Joel Quenneville, is tough to root against.

This is going to be a fun series and I think a lot of goals are going to be scored, but the Blackhawks are going to emerge as the winners more often than not. If this were a tennis match and Chicago had first serve, I’d score it like this: 6-5, 6-5, 5-7, 6-3, 6-5.

Chicago in five.