It's a long way to the top...
It's playoff hockey time! The best time of the year! After looking at the Western Conference matchups, it's time to move to the Eastern Conference and take a look at what the first round will provide. If possible, these games will be even better than what we have coming in the West.
Let's keep it rolling!
Gaborik will have to keep scoring to help the Rangers take care of the Senators
First up are the Rangers and the Senators. The Senators were 3-1 against the Rangers in the regular season. That was the regular season, this is the playoffs.
The Rangers are too versatile in the way they beat teams to go down to the Senators. They have arguably the best goalie in the league with Henrik Lundqvist, and the addition of Brad Richards clearly sparked some scoring touch for this squad.
Under-performing special teams could hurt the Rangers though. Rangers in six.
The Caps better find someone who can stop the puck, and fast
Next, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins take on the white hot, and finally healthy Capitals. This is going to be a great series. Two contrasts in style collide. The Capitals high scoring attack vs. the stingy Bruins.
If Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom score like they’re able to, they could run away with this one. Mike Green’s got a rocket from the point too.
On the flip side, the Bruins have two capable goalies. So if for some strange reason Thomas struggles early, Rask can easily pick up the slack. Also, the Bruins haven’t made a ton of changes since last year; they’re almost the exact same team. If they could neutralize the Sedins last year in the Finals, they can do the same to the Captials' top line this year.
Ultimately, the Caps need a goalie they can depend on, end of story. Bruins in seven.
Kovalchuk is a scoring machine, but has very little Playoff experience
Interestingly enough, this 3-6 matchup is another one where the team with the third seed does not look capable. Maybe it’s time for the NHL to rethink playoff seeding?
Don’t get uptight Panther fans, you have a good team, it’s just that the Devils are better. Remember, you lost 18 games in overtime, and while you got a point for each of those losses, you still lost more games than you won this season.
Florida winning this first round series would be great; it’s just not going to happen. Devils in five.
This one's going to be a bloodbath
Now the main event. The Penguins and the Flyers. Pennsylvania divided.
The injuries the Flyers suffered this season will make it tough to beat the Pens. Yes, the Flyers owned the Pens this year, but with Malkin and Crosby healthy, it’s hard to pick against the Pens. In fact you’d have to be crazy to do it.
Call me crazy.
I like the way the Flyers match up against the Penguins, injured or not. This series will be a bloodbath, if the last few meetings between these two teams during the regular season was any indication.
The edge the Flyers hold? Goaltending. Whether you’re a Fleury believer or not, he has not been great this year. On the other hand, the Flyers have Bryzgalov and Babrosky as options in net. If Fleury struggles, who will the Pens turn to?
The fact is, in order to win, the Pens have to score at least three, and that’s a lot in playoff hockey—not unreasonable, but not likely. Flyers in seven.
This is going to be one wild ride. Buckle up hockey fans, it’s going to be a great postseason!