The winner of the following round gets to play for the big Cup.
While I've enjoyed watching the NBA playoffs as have many in the States over the years (I didn't enjoy watching the Cavs, however), I'm sure having so many lopsided series on the hoops side in Round 2 may have led some new viewers to the hockey postseason.
In fact, I've gotten plenty of e-mails and have been approached by people who have told me they have become smitten by these hockey playoffs -- and are now giving the sport a chance.
And why not? The play has been great; the story lines amazing.
Philadelphia, down 3-0 in its series to the Bruins, was dead right?
No way Roberto Luongo and the Canucks lose all three games at home of their series with Chicago after winning Game 1, right?
And there is no way Montreal -- the eighth seed in the east -- could knock off No. 1 Washington and then trump the defending champion Penguins, right?
And the fun continues on Sunday when the San Jose Sharks play host to the Blackhawks for the opener of the west finals. Great stories there as well. The Sharks have been hockey's biggest postseason bust the past few years. The Sharks can now put all that behind them with a win over the Blackhawks -- an Original Six franchise trying to end hockey's longest Cup drought.
Of course, I think the Sharks have already put all that choking thing behind them. The Bruins own that title now.
Here's who I like in the conference semifinals:
In the west, I'm sticking with the Blackhawks. Wasn't very impressed with them during the opening round, but they look strong. Taking Chicago to win that one in San Jose in Game 6.
In the east, as much as I like the way Philadelphia has played so far, I have really been impressed with the Habs. Nothing seems to faze JM's bunch. And they have the advantage in net. Taking the Canadiens in yet another Game 7.
It doesn't matter which team wins, you can bet on some broken windows -- perhaps some flipped police cars, too -- after it's all said and done.
-- Last round: Went 3-1, bringing the postseason tally to a decent 9-3. JM and the Canadiens account for two of my losses this playoff season. Buffalo losing to Boston was the other.
As always, your comments and predictions for the conference finals welcomed below.
Enjoy the playoffs folks.