NHL Playoffs: A Look at the Eastern Conference

Ian ZymarakisSenior Analyst IApril 8, 2008

Since I have examined the Western Conference here are my predictions for the Eastern Conference side of the playoffs.


1st Round


(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (8) Boston Bruins: Montreal Wins Series 4-1 

In a battle of original six teams, and also bitter rivals, the Canadiens dominated the Bruins this entire season; I don't think this series will be much different.  The series will be physical, but Boston doesn't have the players right now to get past Montreal and their solid offense and defense.

Carey Price should be able to get accustomed to being in the playoffs by playing solid  hockey and not allowing Boston to get many goals in on him. 

The return of Bergeron does mean Boston will get at least one win in this series to make up for their 0-8-0 record against Montreal this past season.

Montreal advances to the next round in five games. 


(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Ottawa Senators: Pittsburgh Wins Series 4-2 

In a rematch of last season's playoff series that saw Ottawa eliminate Pittsburgh, I see the opposite happening this year as Pittsburgh is more mature this season.

Crosby will guide the Pens past a Senators team that isn't too sure how their captain, Daniel Alfredsson, will fair due to a knee injury he suffered not too long ago. 

Pittsburgh and their young studs will guide the Pens to the next round of the playoffs even with a shaky goaltender in Marc-Andre Fleury. 

Pens advance in six games. 


(3) Washington Capitals vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers: Washington Wins Series 4-2 

The NHL has their version of Cinderella in this postseason in Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Although they are a No. 3 seed, many see them as an underdog vs. a Flyers team that jumped from eighth to sixth on the last day of the season.

I see Ovechkin shining in his first ever playoffs as he will guide the Caps past the Flyers in this series.

Goalie Cristobal Huet has been playing well since his trade from Montreal to Washington, and I see that continuing in this series. 

Washington shows why they shouldn't be overlooked as they advance in six games. 


(4) New Jersey Devils vs. (5) New York Rangers: New York Wins Series 4-2 

In what should be the most physical series of all the first round playoff games, bitter Atlantic Division foes will be put up against one another.

The Rangers got the upper hand in the regular season series taking seven out of the eight games. The one loss came on the last day of the season in a shootout. 

Questions facing New York are: Will Henrik Lundqvist be as sharp as possible in these playoffs? Will Jaromir Jagr wake up from his season-long slumber for the playoffs? 

If Jagr is able to play at the level he is known to play at the Rangers will go far. They do have a tough time defeating Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, but I see them getting past him in this round.

Rangers advance in six games.


Eastern Conference Semi-Finals


(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (5) New York Rangers: New York Wins Series 4-3 

In another battle between original six teams that also feature great young goaltending, this will definitely be an exciting series. 

Carey Price will play some great goalie in these playoffs, but I see Lundqvist getting the upper hand on him. I still see Price as being one season away from becoming the Patrick Roy replica that Montreal fans believe he could turn into.

The Rangers are a lot tougher this time around compared to last season and will show that against Montreal. Their defense will shutdown Kovalev and will break down the Canadiens defense.

Montreal must avoid committing penalties if they don't want to have their backs against the wall because the Rangers have a pretty solid power play. 

The Rangers shock the hockey world and defeat Montreal at the Bell Centre in Game 7 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.


(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (3) Washington Capitals: Pittsburgh Wins Series 4-1

In a matchup that the NHL could only dream of, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin go head to head against one another in this series.

Crosby has had the upper hand in previous games, and I don't see much change in this series. Pittsburgh has too much fire power for Washington to contain them. 

Ovechkin is going to need from more players than just Nicklas Backstrom if he wants to guide this team on. I don't see that happening.  

Cinderella ends here as Sid the kid gets his Penguins to the Eastern Conference Finals by winning the series in five games. 


Eastern Conference Finals


(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) New York Rangers: New York Wins Series 4-2 

In a matchup between Atlantic Division rivals, this will be a very entertaining series.

By this point, the Rangers will be on a magic ride through the playoffs that won't end here.

If the Rangers don't let anybody other then Crosby take over they should be in good shape. As good as Sidney is, I don't think he can win this series on his own. 

Henrik Lundqvist continues to prove why he should be placed in the top five goalies in the NHL today.

The Rangers and their newly inspired captain, Jaromir Jagr, win this series in six games and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals where they will meet the defending champs, the Anaheim Ducks.


Eastern Conference Playoff MVP:

Henrik Lundqvist, Goalie, New York Rangers





1st Round:

(1) Montreal Canadiens 

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins

(3) Washington Capitals 

(5) New York Rangers



(2) Pittsburgh Penguins 

(5) New York Rangers


Conference Finals:

(5) New York Rangers


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