1) Welcome to the NHL's second (real) season. We would argue that there is NO better all around tournament in all of pro sports. Let the games begin! We will go through each series; dissect what the most important factors are, and come up with who will win in how many games. First we will do the East. Followed by the amazingly unpredictable and very powerful West. Enjoy.
- Capitals(1) vs. NY Rangers(8): REGULAR SEASON SERIES (3-1 Rangers). These are NOT the same Rangers that were playoff novices a couple of seasons ago when these teams last met, and the Rangers fell apart. Not to mention Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best in the business and on top of his game. Keys: Can the Caps play tough playoff hockey? Can the Rangers score enough? There won't be any blowouts here and perhaps a couple OT games deciding the outcome of the series.We don't think the Caps can play a tough, defense first grinding series of games and will (again) wilt in the spring heat of the NHL second season Rangers in 6
- Philadelphia (2) vs. Buffalo (7) Not a matchup most saw a month ago, but in the last few weeks the Sabres have surged to claim a playoff spot and the Flyers squandered a big lead to fall into 2nd in the East. The Flyers and Sabres have plenty of playoff history. Let's see if the Flyers can overcome their late- season slump to beat the surging Sabres. The Flyers biggest problem is the one that has followed them since Bernie Parent retired, goaltending. How long before they call on recently caled up Michael Leighton? As for Buffalo, is Ryan Miller healthy? Despite that, while the Sabres willl push the BroadStreet Bullies, the Flyers will prevail, but it won't be easy Flyers in 7
- Canadiens (6) vs. Bruins(3): REGULAR SEASON SERIES (5-1 Bruins) Can't be the post season without these two original 6 squaring off?! They meet for a 5th time in past 8 postseasons. In the past it doesn't seem to matter where either club is in the standings. Despite the positioning we see this as a much closer series than many might predict. There is still likely some bad blood here with the Chara incident still very fresh. Keys: Can Carey Price play up to the expectations and trade save for save with Tim Thomas now that Halak is no longer waiting in the wings? Will the Habs' best defensemen, Andre Markov play? In the end the Bruins should win this old Adams division/Original 6 battle, but not in a cake walk. Bruins in 7
- Penguins (4) vs Lightning (5): Another intriguing matchup. On paper it shouldn't be close with the Lightning superior fire power, improved defense and Roloson in net, and 87 on the shelf they should prevail, but hold on there. The Pens are one of the best coached teams in the NHL, that even without the best player in the game in the lineup they still were one of the best teams in the East. Can Fleury be the goaie he was for the Pen's Cup run 2 yrs ago? Can Stamkos produce like a superstar when it counts? Overall we think the boys from Pittsburgh will outlast the playoff novices from Florida and grind out a tough 7 game series. Penguins in 7