For my first set of playoff previews, I will give you my thoughts and run down on the Eastern conference matchups. These are only for round one and my Western Conference preview will come either tomorrow or Monday, as soon as the Standings are set.
Boston Bruins (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (8)
Prediction: Bruins in Five
The Boston Bruins are the mighty team from the East and although I originally said that they would be a first round upset but because Montreal has been on the decline for weeks and impaired by a serious injury to top defenseman Andrei Markov, I see no way they can defeat the Bruins. Carey Price has been very shaky and has never impressed me despite his fans saying he will be the next Patrick Roy. The Bruins will take a 3-0 series lead and the Canadiens will win the fourth game at home to prolong the series where it will then end in Beantown.
Washington Capitals (2) vs. New York Rangers (7)
Prediction: Rangers in Six
The New York Rangers haven’t fared well against the offensive powerhouse Capitals this season, but they were only outscored 13-11 in four games under Tom Renney, whose style allowed for no offense. John Tortorella’s new system matches up very well with that of Bruce Boudreau’s. The Rangers also have the edge in goaltending and defense and Marc Staal has always played Alex Ovechkin very tough. I only hope that if the Capitals win the series, AO’s celebration won’t be like he won the Stanley Cup.
New Jersey Devils (3) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (3)
Prediction: Hurricanes in Six
The Carolina Hurricanes have been the hottest team in hockey down the stretch, with momentum they carry right now. Cam Ward is on the hottest streak of his career and the Staal-Cole tandem is on fire. The Devils have found their game recently but have always played poorly against Carolina. Both goaltenders have won Cups so the experience factor doesn’t lie in goaltending, but in defense. With Joe Corvo and Anton Babchuk leading the way for Carolina, they easily top the Devils’ Paul Martin and Colin White.
Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (5)
Prediction: Penguins in Seven
Ever since Dan Bylsma took over as head coach the Penguins have been one of the hottest teams in the east. I’m still not sold on Marc Andre Fleury but he is much better then the Flyers’ Martin Biron. Philadelphia may have the largest group of twenty goal scorers in the league but I don’t think they can match up with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Throw in the fact that the Flyers will get penalized for every time they breathe on Crosby, and a well rested Sergei Gonchar, and they can’t win this series.