With the second season of the National Hockey League upon us, I felt it was appropriate to offer the best fans in the world a preview and my personal view of each series in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. As an added bonus, I will make a prediction of who I think will be the winner of each series.
#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 Montreal Canadians
This matchup pits the best team in the NHL against a team that barely made it to the playoffs and struggled as of late.
Washington is the cream of the crop. They have one of the most potent offenses in the NHL and they’re also deep down the blue line. They’ve gotten a lot deeper as a team this season and that’s combined with the experience they got in last season’s playoffs. The only question mark when it comes to the Capitals is José Teodoro’s goal.
The Canadians have some strengths on their power play, are ultimately healthier than during their struggles and have some offensive threats.
Prediction: In the end, the Capitals are a much better team. They don’t need to win games 1-0 so goalkeeping shouldn’t be a problem early on because they can score with the best. The only chance the Canadians have is if their power play continues to shine and they dominate a poor Washington penalty, and goalkeeper Jaroslav Halak gets a header. Capitals in five games.
#2 New Jersey Devils vs. #7 Philly Flyers
However, the flyers were able to sneak into the playoffs on the last day of the season in a penalty shootout. They can possibly build on that momentum and carry it into their first-round matchup against the Devils. If anyone wasn’t happy about the Flyers’ win over the Rangers on the final day, it was the Devils, who have been beaten five of six times this season by the Flyers.
Prediction: The Flyers will scare the Devils in this first round and create a great series against the old Patrick Division Rivals. While the Flyers struggled later in the season, they showed they can beat top teams, including New Jersey at times. In the end, it’s tough going up against one of the best NHL goaltenders of all time in Martin Brodeur and an offense with the likes of Ilya Kovalchuck and Zack Parise. Devils in 7 games.
#3 Buffalo Sabers vs. #6 Boston Bruins
This matchup features another team, the Boston Bruins, who barely made it to the playoffs. The Bruins also proved tough in winning the season series against the Northeast division champion Sabers, even defeating them last Thursday.
I think this series will be a goalie story, with the Sabers being led by USA goalie Ryan Miller, many of whom believe he is the reason the Sabers are where they are (as is Team USA). ), and the situation in Boston with Tuuka Rask likely to be the starter over veteran Tim Thomas. If Tuuka struggles in his first NHL playoffs, it will be interesting to see how short of a leash he is on.
Prediction: The Bruins have been battle-tested all season and will continue to battle it out in a hard-hitting series between rivals. In the end, goalie Ryan Miller will continue to stand on his head and shut out the Bruins. Sabers in seven games.
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Ottawa Senators
Once again, the Penguins will be the fourth seed heading into the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. This worked out well for them last year, defeating the Detroit Red Wings in seven games to win the Stanley Cup.
The Penguins must prove the critics wrong this season as they have shown signs of inconsistency and unable to get up for the big games. They’ve also faced the injury bug quite a bit this season, with Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar on the shelf for some time. Their struggles lately also cost them to win their division title, which was very close at hand, as New Jersey didn’t want to take the crown towards the end either.
Speaking of having streaks, the Ottawa Senators have also done the same. At one point during the season he had established a winning streak of eleven and six games. If this team has run in the playoffs, it should be a force.
Prediction: In the end, the penguins will find their way. The depth up front combined with the experience the Senators possess moves them forward. Penguins in six games.