Washington Capitals(1) vs. New York Rangers(8)
I really like the Caps odds in this one. The Rangers, I feel, are the weakest team in the playoffs. Losing Ryan Callahan, the Rangers are looking pretty thin up front. The only way the Rangers can hang in this series is if Henrik Lundqvist can steal the show the way Jaroslav Halak did last year. Washington learned their lesson last year losing to a 8th seed and won’t let it happen this year. My verdict is the Capitals have too much depth and fire power, as I could easily see Ovie’s team sweep New York.
Capitals in 4
Philadelphia Flyers(2) vs. Buffalo Sabres(7)
Here’s where the Eastern Conference gets interesting. The Flyers went 3-7 in their last 10 games to close out the regular season and there was fingers pointing everywhere. The stumbling Flyers come into the playoffs with high expectations. They are deep at every position but net. That is the biggest question mark to me. If Philly can find their starting goalie early, I believe they can make a straight march to the finals. Buffalo can be a scary team to play against as they have one of the best goalies in the game, Ryan Miller. Last year we saw Miller lead a weak USA team all the way to the Olympic gold finals, so watch out for the Sabres netminder. At the end of the day I believe the Flyers can overpower the Sabres with their depth.
Flyers in 6
Boston Bruins(3) vs. Montreal Canadians(6)
This series will be determined by who can execute their game plan. If the big, bad Bruins can make it a physical series, the smaller Canadians have no chance. Lucic, Horton, and Krejci will all be leaned on heavily up front to push around the Habs. Also the Bruins need to figure out their power play if they want to make it anywhere in the playoffs. However, if the Habs can play their game and get some hot goaltending from Carey Price, we all know how deadly they can be. Finally, the Canadians low scoring team needs to get their offence revved up or the Habs post-season could end quickly. This rivalry has the means to go all the way to game 7 I think.
Bruins in 7
Pittsburgh Penguins(4) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning(5)
The Crosby show? The second half of the year I have questioned the Pens ability to win without Crosby, Malkin, and other banged up forwards, but time and time again they prove me wrong. Head coach, Dan Bylsma has done an awesome job at getting his team to win hockey games. Meanwhile Tampa has surprised everyone for even making the playoffs this year. I think it will come down to the will to win and the Fluery vs. Rolson goaltending match-up. Pens win in both categories and so I believe Pittsburgh have the upper hand.
Penguins in 6
Vancouver Canucks(1) vs. Chicago Blackhawks(8)
Ah, the heated rivalry between the Nucks and Hawks. I think the rivalry is all but gone. Ladd, Versteeg, Burish, Byfuglien, Eager, Sopel, and Neimi are all gone from the Hawks line-up leaving the team weak in depth, which was the very thing that made them win last year. The Canucks on the other hand have been on a mission to forget the last two playoff exits against the Blackhawks and GM Mike Gillis has done an amazing job at increasing the overall depth of the Canucks over the off season. Vancouver leads the league in almost every category this past season and look unstoppable going into the playoffs. I’ll take the Nucks any day.
Canucks in 5
San Jose Sharks(2) vs. Los Angeles Kings(7)
Is this the Sharks year? San Jose has been on fire since the All-Star game while the Kings have looked mediocre. The Sharks have 3 sick offensive lines containing Thornton, Heatly, Marleau, Clowe, Pavelski, Setoguchi, and Couture. Also Niemi has looked unbeatable since the Shark turn around, but the defence worries me. The only name that stands out on defence is Dan Boyle, other than Dan the Sharks have look weak on the back end. The Kings have been hurting since losing Anze Kopitar and I think they have no shot at making any significant gains in the playoffs.
Sharks in 4
Detroit Red Wings(3) vs. Phoenix Coyotes(6)
The Red Wings once again in the playoffs. This organization has figured it out. The ageing Wings aren’t the favourite they normally are but don’t count them out. Mike Babcock always gets the most out of his team for the playoffs. Goaltender, Jimmy Howard looks better and better every game I watch him play and I think he could be the X-factor for the Red Wings if they want to make it anywhere this year. Meanwhile, the Yotes rely heavily on their goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to win them hockey games. If the Coyotes can get timely goals and have Ilya play his best, the Wings could exit the playoffs earlier then they want to. I think in the end Detroit’s experience will win them the series.
Red Wings in 6
Anaheim Ducks(4) vs. Nashville Predators(5)
The Duck offence has been unreal this year with Perry, Ryan, and Getzlaf leading the way, not to mention strong secoundary scoring coming from Selenne, Koivu, and Blake. Also the goaltending has been solid all year for the Ducks whether it has been Hiller, Emery, or Ellis. The one weak point for Anaheim is there depth on D. Young players like Sbisa and Fowler will have to step it up if the Ducks want to make a playoff run. But I think Nashville is a scary team to play in round 1. Coach, Berry Tortz has perfected a defensive system that even with average player, the Preds find a way to make it to the playoffs. The thing that separates this year’s Nashville team to last year’s, is the goaltending. Rinne has flourished this season and doesn’t show signs of stopping. I think Nashville’s system and group of players has the chance of getting them a long way in the playoffs.
Predators in 7