Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions

(The East was full of surprises this year, none bigger than the Capitals miracle run, the Canadiens rise to success, the Flyers rebound year, or the emergence of Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins.

My Predictions (Picks in BOLD)

(1)Montreal Canadiens
vs
(8)Boston Bruins
5 Games

Sweeping the season series 8-0, the Habs were virtually unstoppable when they played the Bruins. Led by rookie Carey Price, the Habs will be playing without leader Saku Koivu. However, a surprisingly good season by Alexei Kovalev eases the minds of Montreal fans.

(2)Pittsburgh Penguins
vs
Ottawa Senators
(7)5 Games

I don't like calling sweeps but if there was a series that was most likely to have one, it would be this one. The Senators, the fastest team in NHL history to 26 points have been dreadful since January 1st. In fact, since that time, they have the fourth worst record in the league. Without captain Daniel Alfredsson or second line center Mike Fisher, this series is going to be too much for the mediocre Senators. Expect Malkin and Crosby to have huge games.

(3)Washington Capitals
vs
(6)Philadelphia Flyers
6 Games

The only team as hot as the San Jose Sharks in the last stretch of the season was the Washington Capitals. Led by phenom Alex Ovechkin, who scored an NHL record (for left wingers) 66 goals, the Capitals managed to win the Southeast Division. Trade deadline pickups of Sergei Federov and Matt Cooke have paid off very well. On the other side, the Flyers come in after shutting out the Devils and Penguins in two consecutive games. The Flyers have been very streaky this year and I expect that trend to continue.

(4)New Jersey Devils
vs
(5)New York Rangers
7 Games

The Rangers won the season series 7-0-1 but most of those games were close. When it comes to the playoffs, no active goalie is better than Martin Brodeur. Putting those factors together, I like the Devils to shut down the Rangers offensively and play their usual defensive game. It will be up to Patrick Elias to provide the goals.

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How about we go a little further down the road? Here are my predictions for the rest of the playoffs:

(1) Montreal Canadiens
vs
(4) New Jersey Devils
7 Games

The Habs are good, that's an absolute, but Carey Price is a rookie and contrary to popular belief, not every rookie goalie is going to pull a Patrick Roy or Cam Ward. The Devils usually get better as the playoffs go along and they should have enough man power to take Alexei Kovalev out of the game.

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins
vs
(3) Washington Capitals
5 Games

All good stories must eventually come to an end and sadly for the Capitals, it will come against the team that has their number - the Pittsburgh Penguins. Great news for the NHL, though. A Crosby-Ovechkin matchup is exactly what they need.

__________________________

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins
vs
(4) New Jersey Devils
6 Games

The Pens are a very popular pick and the fact that I have them playing two five-game series makes me confident that they'll be well-rested by the time they play New Jersey. If Marian Hossa finally figures out how to score in the playoffs, it will be tough for the Pens to be defeated.

Eastern Conference Champ:

Pittsburgh Penguins

Next Up: The West!

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