Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First Round Predicitions: Eastern Conference

Here is a look at my picks for the Eastern Conference. I'll be back with a look at the West tomorrow.

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 New York Rangers:

A tough matchup for the Capitals. As James Mirtle notes the Rangers scored more goals than the Capitals this season--hard to believe. An edge in goal for New York as well. Rookie Michal Neuvirth will get the Game 1 start for the Caps after a solid season, but New York has King Henrik. Lundqvist recorded 11 shutouts in the regular season including two against the Caps. New York will miss Ryan Callahan big time, but I see another 8-seed upset here with the Rangers in 6.

#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #7 Buffalo Sabres:

Another matchup where the lower seed has the advantage in the nets. The Flyers have been medicore down the stretch and the Sabres have been dynamite since the change in ownership. You would think after all these years the Flyers would have solved their goaltending issues. They haven't. Everyone likes Buffalo in the upset. I do to. Last year 7 and 8 played in the Eastern Conference Finals, this year I think they both get out of the first round. Sabres in 7.

#3 Boston Bruins vs. #6 Montreal Canadiens:

Bad blood all around. As E.J. Hradek points out the Bruins were the league's best even strength team and both goalies were great during the regular season. I don't see the Bruins sweeping as they did in 2008, but I do see them having a surprisingly easy time as they stay out of the box and outwork the Canadiens. Bruins in 5.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Tampa Bay Lightning:

Sidney Crosby won't dress for Game 1, but I do expect to see him later in the series. I think he is days from coming back. Tampa has a dynamite offense. They are going to have to dominate special teams if they are going to win, but the Penguins PK was the best in the league and they have an advantage in goal with Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh has been getting it done with hard work and defense, a new formula. They will continue to win and continue to hope their Captain gets to put his sweater on soon. Penguins in 5.

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