Now let's just pretend for a second that the current top eight seeds in the Eastern Conference do not change.
I am going to show you my predictions for this up in the air conference. ultimately ending up with the team that will represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final...
(1) New Jersey Devils vs. (8) Philadelphia Flyers: Devils Win Series 4-1
The Devils as usual are very good this year behind the goaltending of future Hall of Famer and most likely soon to be all time Wins leader Martin Brodeur, the slow paced defensive minded team will be too much for a much smaller Flyers squad as the Devils win the series in 5. Brodeur is usually clutch in the playoffs, and this series will show how consistent he is also.
(2) Ottawa Senators vs. (7) Boston Bruins: Senators Win Series 4-0
Even with turmoil amongst the players and management, most notably goaltender Ray Emery the Senators should breeze through this series over the Bruins. Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson I think will score more goals combined then Boston will as a team this entire series. Remember though, 7 seeds in the NHL Playoffs have been pretty successful against 2 seeds, I don't believe that will be the case in this series as Ottawa advances in 4 games.
(3) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (6) New York Rangers: Rangers Win Series 4-2
This will definitely be a battle between two outstanding young goalies in Cam Ward for the Canes and Lundqvist for the Rangers. Jaromir Jagr has been relatively nonchalant this season which is no surprise but maybe he has just been saving himself for a strong playoff run this year. With Drury and Gomez also starting to hit their stride and Shannahan still playing as consistent as ever the Rangers seem set for a run at the Cup. With a talented young defense and experienced forwards the Canes will put up a fight but that will be it, what might hurt the Canes the most is playing in the worst division in Hockey. Eric Staal will do his best to carry the team but there is not much else there to help him out offensively, Rangers advance in 6 games.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Montreal Canadiens: Penguins Win Series 4-3
In what will be the best series in the 1st round the Penguins led by Sidney Crosby defeat the Montreal Canadiens in an exciting series. The spoiler in this series could come from Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who many believe is the next Patrick Roy. He should push the Habs as far as possible but I still feel he is one season away from guiding Montreal through the playoffs. Crosby and Malkin will prove to be too much for the Habs to handle especially on the power play. If Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury shows up with his A game the Pens could go deep in the playoffs. Pens advance in 7 games.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
(1) New Jersey Devils vs. (6) New York Rangers: Rangers Win Series 4-3
This series will be one for the books as these two teams are bitter rivals and this series will definitely be a rough and tumble one. The Rangers got to this point in the playoffs before being defeated by the Buffalo Sabres, this year they will get past this round of the playoffs and defeat a goaltender that is usually a Ranger killer in Martin Brodeur. Lundqvist will show why he should be considered one of the top 5 best goaltenders in the NHL. In what will be a low scoring series the Rangers out grind the Devils and advance to the Conference Finals in 7 games.
(2) Ottawa Senators vs. (4) Pittsburgh Penguins: Penguins Win Series 4-2
Crosby and the Penguins exact some revenge on the Senators after being eliminated by them in the playoffs last season. In what will be a high scoring series Crosby shows why he is the best player in the game and guides the Penguins to the Eastern Conference Finals vs. Atlantic Division Rival New York Rangers. Penguins advance in 6 games.
Eastern Conference Finals
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (6) New York Rangers: Rangers Win Series 4-2
The Rangers steal a game on the road from the Penguins then follow that by taking two games at home. Crosby does his best to bring the Pens back but it isn't enough as possible Con Smythe Award Winner Henrik Lundqvist puts the Rangers on his back and shutdown the Pens and Crosby late in the series. Crosby's legacy almost has another chapter to add to the already growing legacy he has but the run stops here as the Rangers advance to the Finals for the first time since winning the Cup in 1994. Rangers advance in 6 games.
Eastern Conference Playoff MVP
Tie between Sidney Crosby and Henrik Lundqvist