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Round Two Predictions

2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators
2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators

As round two begins I’d like to offer my prognosticating skills up to you all once again for the four series that will set the stage for the Conference Finals. After missing only two series in the first round (ignore that I lost both of my Cup predicted teams) I fully expect to go 0-for-4 with my second round predictions.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators

The Penguins sudden issues in goal have made them quite vulnerable. Their six-game triumph over the Islanders only lasted that long thanks to the stumbling play of Marc-Andre Fleury. While Tomas Vokoun provided enough stability to close out the series, he can’t be instill all that much confidence in Penguins fans.

Ottawa rolls in off a five game drubbing of the Canadiens in which they received brilliant goaltending and timely scoring from all over their lineup. They face a scary, deep, talented Penguins team which creates matchup nightmares on both sides of the puck. I don’t expect the Alfredsson line to be nearly as effective as they were against Montreal, nor do I expect the Senators to be able to effectively shutdown Pittsburgh’s scorers. However, Craig Anderson provides a decided advantage in net. Penguins in 6

Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers

Fresh off a pair of grueling six-game series, both of these teams will be fighting some major fatigue in the second round. One interesting thing to watch will be the durability of each team’s top defensemen. Zdeno Chara was run well over 60 minutes over the past two games out of necessity while the Rangers trot Dan Girardi (and Ryan McDonagh) out for a million minutes by choice.

This series will be all about who is conditioned better and who is capable of surviving beyond another physically grueling series. Goaltending will play a major role here and I like Henrik Lundqvist better than Tuukka Rask. However, I think the Bruins have more firepower than the Rangers and that might just give them the edge. Bruins in 7

Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings

The second Original Six showdown of the second round pits a pair of heated rivals against one another. This is a nice treat for hockey purists as the Wings will be heading east next season and severing many of their former divisional rivalries.

To be Frank, the Blackhawks are nearly impossible to matchup against and they’ve been getting steady goaltending along the way. While the Wings have been riding a nice wave of positive momentum, the Blackhawks are a much different beast than the Ducks were. While Jimmy Howard has been sensational, I’m not sure the Wings will be able to insulate him the way they did against Anaheim. Blackhawks in 6

Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks

A nice little regional matchup that pits a perennial playoff disappointment against last year’s Cup champs. The Sharks have flown under the radar this year but have opened plenty of eyes after sweeping the Canucks. While they have plenty of question marks around them, San Jose has two solid scoring lines and have gotten great goaltending from Antti Niemi.

The Kings scrapped their way through the first round and will need to find some more offense if they hope to get back to the Conference Finals. Jonathan Quick has been stellar yet again and Los Angeles did a great job stifling the Blues. I wonder how they’ll deal with an impressive offensive lineup like the Sharks boast, however. Sharks in seven

New Supreme and Nexus skates give Bauer variety

Bauer Nexus 1000 Sr. Ice Hockey Skates
Bauer Nexus 1000 Sr. Ice Hockey Skates

Bauer’s impressive line of gear for 2013 is like a good Stanley Cup playoff team, deep. There is elite talent, impressive depth and quality across the lineup.

The release of the APX 2 skates has come with plenty of fanfare. The next step in the incredibly popular Vapor line was expected to get plenty of attention but Bauer has two more sets of wheels that should be equally interesting to players.

2013 will see the TotalOne NXG line evolve further along with the introduction of the Nexus skate. Both skate lines offer impressive features that will appeal to a wide range of players. The TotalOne in particular, as Bauer continues to build on a skate line with many equally impressive features to that of the Vapor line.

The newest TotalOne doesn’t come stock with the new Lightspeed 3 TUUK, but it does utilize the TUUK LS Fusion blade. That is the same blade that is sported on the Vapor and is 27% lighter than previous Bauer runners.

Both the TotalOne and Vapor APX also share the same type of Curv composite upper construction. That, when baked, provide a true custom fit around your foot. This isn’t much difference than previous models in the Supreme line which were built with a strong, rigid boot that molded to a comfortable, custom fit after some time in the skate oven.

The key with the Curv composite upper is to eliminate dead space between the heel and ankle area and the boot, thus improving the overall fit. Another addition on the new TotalOne is the flexible tendon guard which combines with Total Edge Comfort to increase range of motion and decrease abrasions and discomfort at the top of the skate.

Perhaps the coolest feature on the new TotalOne is the 3Flex Tongue. Bauer, along with Curv, developed composite inserts that will allow players to customize the flex of the tongue on their skates. As Bauer explains, the inserts are supposed to act like spring boards that react as you flex forward in your skating motion.

Unfortunately the 3Flex tongue can only be found on the TotalOne model although the Curv Composite upper is featured on the One.9 and the One.8 and One.7 each have thermoformable uppers as well.

The skate that I’m most interested in, however is neither the Supreme nor the Vapor but the Nexus line. One the surface it looks like a reincarnation of the legendary Supreme 8000 skates that were the bread and butter for Bauer wearers for the longest time.

Bauer rolled out the Nexus this year as the newest line of gear in their collection and it is quickly becoming the most impressive of the bunch from the skates right up through the elbow pads.

The upper is constructed differently than that of the Vapor or Supreme. Instead of the more rigid composite construction, the Nexus focuses on weight with a fully stitched “tech mesh” quarter package build. I looks just about identical to the durable nylon stitched quarter package builds from the pre-Vapor days and just in terms of a mirror test, really hits home for me.

The Nexus also uses a traditional (in look) retro tan liner. Again, one of those features that ranks high for me in look and set up. The liner itself is hydrophobic. So it is afraid of moisture. This is a great addition as Bauer’s hydrophobic technology is designed to repel moisture and keep your feet, and the skate, dry.

Add in a super thick, traditional felt tongue (perfect for sniper tongues) and Bauer managed to build a very traditional looking skate. When you consider the new features they built into the skate – particularly the unique Deep-V heel fit and this is quite the advanced skate.

From the 800 on down, the Nexus line is quite consistent as well; which means you’re getting more bang for your buck depending on your target price point.

What’s tough about the equipment that Bauer is producing is which line you want to choose. Each one offers so many awesome features and hit on various price points that virtually every player has the ability to use the various advances in the gear tech.

Whether you find one specific line to fit your game or if you like each one, be sure to take a look at the Vapor, Nexus and Supreme gear lines the next time you’re heading out to shop.