Time for M to show the Eastern Conference just a little bit o’ love. And heeeeeere we go! UPDATE: I know I’m posting this after the first day of games, but the internet in Italy doesn’t exactly understand timeliness. Or, for that matter, working in general. Booooo. -M
Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals
This would be a matchup to watch had the Capitals performed the way they should have during the regular season. But, inevitably as they always do, the Caps find a way to disappoint. But who knows, maybe that frustration will lead to a deep playoff run. Personally, I wouldn’t bet on it. The Bruins are just too good, even though I don’t think they’ll make it to the finals this year. Thomas is still an elite goaltender, and if you’re Washington, you can’t just expect those issues to go away. The Bruins have a grittier, deeper team, and they’re going to make a deep playoff run, starting with knocking off Washington. Bruins in 6.
Ottawa Senators vs. New York Rangers
Once again, this has to be no contest. The Rangers have dominated the regular season, and have an elite goaltender (with some sick flow) in Henrik Lundqvist. Not to mention, they have the character of a championship team. You see the guys in the locker room they have, they personalities on that team, and honestly I think because to the last few Stanley Cup Champions. With the Bruins last year you have Marchand, Ference, Seguin, all guys that know how to keep it loose in the locker room. With the Blackhawks, it was their role players like Burish, Versteeg, Byfgulien, Ladd, and Madden. This year, the Rangers have characters like Boyle to balance out the offense talents of Marian Gaborik, among others, and I truly think this team can be unbeatable if they keep their eyes on the prize. Rangers in 5.
New Jersey Devils vs. Florida Panthers
I can’t tell you how happy I am that the Panthers made it into the playoffs. Dale Tallon made too many big offseason moves for them not to have drastically improved upon previous years, and they did. I don’t think this series will be a blowout, because they’re both fairly evenly matched, but just for the sake of nostalgia, I’m hoping for a Panthers win here. They deserve it. And, as you’ll recall, I did predict they’d win a Stanley Cup in the next five years, so they need to get a little more playoff experience under their belts so they can git ‘er done. Panthers in 6.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
It’s only appropriate that I put a picture up of these two teams getting into a scrum, because let’s face it: this is going to be an all out fight to the finish and a series for the record books. You couldn’t have scripted it any better. I see this series as the Vancouver-Chicago series from last years playoffs. It’s two teams that legitimately hate each other, both are extremely talented, and both like to get under the other team’s skin (though I think Philly is a bit better at that). This series is for sure going to 7 games, and I think there are a few keys to show which team could come out on top. For the Flyers, it’s their goaltending. Bryzgalov is a talented guy, no question, but when he hits slumps, he just takes an epic tumble like that girl Scarlett from YouTube. But, the Flyers have Giroux, Jagr, Hartnell, Briere, Talbot, and all these other offense threats on their teams that give them a chance to balance out potentially poor goaltending every night. With that said, the Penguins are just too good to be true. Crosby has scored 25 points in 12 games since coming back for the second time from his concussion. But when you hear the names Malkin, Neal, Dupuis, Staal, Kunitz, Letang, etc., you might start shaking in your skates a bit. Too many Penguins are having career years for them to waste away in the first round. They need to keep a cool head and not let Philly get under their skin, because we all know that’s what they do. And, to be honest, it works, so why stop? The Pens need to just play their game and respond to all the trash talk by winning hockey games. Penguins in 7.