The playoffs begin tonight with 2 games in each of the Eastern and Western conferences. Here is how I see the playoffs going down in Round 1.
- #1 Montreal Canadiens vs #8 Boston Bruins- Montreal won all 8 games against Boston this year and I can't see much of a change during the playoffs. The defence and the goaltending is pretty close but Montreal has a superior offence. Take Montreal in a sweep.
- #2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #7 Ottawa Senators- The Penguins proved they could win games even without Sidney Crosby. This team is more than Sid the Kid but they are even better with him. Ottawa has had problems since the New Year and were in a free fall to end the season. Both teams have suspect goaltending but that is where the similarities end. The Senators start without Daniel Alfredsson and #2 centre Mike Fisher. This is not last year's Senators. Take Pittsburgh in 5.
- #3 Washington Capitals vs #6 Philadelphia Flyers- The Capitals are one of the hottest teams coming into the playoffs. Alexander Ovechkin is the complete player and has taken this team upon his shoulders and carried them into the playoffs. They are getting good goaltending from Cristobal Huet and Alex has a great supporting cast. The Flyers were the last team in the league last year and have turned it around in a hurry but they aren't in the same league as the Capitals. Take the Capitals in 5.
- #4 New Jersey Devils vs #5 New York Rangers - This is going to be a good series. Marty Brodeur and the Devils defence against the higher scoring but equally defensive Rangers. This series will depend on which goaltender is hottest and which offense can score. I would always find it hard to pick against Marty Brodeur but I think I have to this year. Take the Rangers in 6.
- #1 Detroit Red Wings vs #8 Nashville Predators- Detroit was the best team in the NHL again this year. Nashville struggled with the new style they were forced to play this year. Detroit has 2 good goaltenders. If Hasek is injured (like he was half the season), Chris Osgoode is a more than capable replacement. Dan Ellis and Chris Mason have no playoff experience and this will show. Take the Red Wings in 5.
- #2 San Jose Sharks vs #7 Calgary Flames- San Jose has is one of the top teams in the league. They are a solid all around team and if they are playing on all cylinders, they are tough. Besides, any team with Joe Thornton has already got a leg up on the opposition. The Flames on the other hand have had huge problems winning away from the Saddledome. The team is also one that can be league killers one game and stinkers the next. Unfortunately Iginla, Phaneuf and Kiprusoff will not be able to match the Sharks. Take San Jose in 5.
- #3 Minnesota Wild vs #6 Colorado Avalanche- This could be a good series. The high powered Avalanche offense vs the awesome Wild defence. Unfortunately for the Avalanche, the old glory years are gone and Forsberg and Foote won't be able bring back the Stanley Cup days. The Wild defence will continue to dominate. Take the Wild in 5.
- #4 Anaheim Ducks vs #5 Dallas Stars - This series could be a bloodbath. Both teams play a tough brand of hockey. The Stars come into the playoffs struggling and with some injuries. Marty Turco proved last year he could win a playoff series but this is a different season and they simply aren't good enough to dethrone the defending champions. Take the Ducks in 7.
Everyone does their conference picks at the beginning of the playoffs so here are mine. In the west I am going to take the San Jose Sharks and from the east I am going out on a limb and I am picking the Washington Capitals with the Sharks sipping from Lord Stanley's mug at the end.