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(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) New York Rangers
A rematch of the 2009 quarterfinal matchup that saw the Caps overcome a three-to-one series deficit to knock off the Rangers in seven games. This year, however, the matchup looks a little more lopsided and although King Henrik may be able to win the Blueshirts a game or two, Washington's offense and experience with the addition of Jason Arnott will be too much. Prediction: Capitals in five games.
(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Buffalo Sabres
In what may be the best series of the first round, the defending Eastern Conference Champions meet up with the red-hot Buffalo Sabres. Philly has hit quite a skid during the past few weeks, and all they can do is hope it does not persist into the playoffs. Buffalo, on the other hand, has been playing its best hockey of the year. If they keep heading in this direction, the Sabres should be able to pull of the upset. Prediction: Sabres in seven games.
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Montreal Canadiens
It just seems fitting that these two Original Six bitter rivals will meet for the third time in four years in the playoffs. Montreal won the season series four games to two, but Boston put an exclamation point on the season series during their last meeting, which resulted in a 7-0 slaughter of the Canadiens. Boston hopes to rebound from the embarrassing end to their season against the Flyers last year, and although Tim Thomas is having a historic season, the Bruins do not have enough to keep up with Montreal's playoff experience and penalty kill. Prediction: Canadiens in six games.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning
The Bolts are in the playoffs in Stevie Y's first season as a GM, and they will meet a depleted but tough Penguins team. Playoff sensation Evgeni Malkin will be out for the remainder of the playoffs for Pittsburgh, and nobody really knows if or when Sidney Crosby will return. Despite lacking their two superstars, the Penguins have continued to be one of the most dominant teams in the NHL, and they will not let the talented but young Lightning stop them. Prediction: Penguins in six games.