Here it is fans,some of the most exciting weeks in all of professional sports are the NHL playoffs. Starting Wednesday and ending, well sometime this summer (seems like August) the fast-paced frenzy of ice skates and pucks will run until we will find out who carries home Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The NHL Western Conference has some new teams in the hunt this year, while the NHL Eastern Conference has some old dogs up to the usual tricks. So, who has what it takes this year? Well hop on board as I break down all eight first round match-ups. Strap on the skates and lets go!
1. Washington Capitals vs 8. Montreal Canadiens
The Presidents Trophy, which is awarded to the team finishing with the most overall points was Washington’s to run away with this year. Now we have to see if the Caps can turn it into a Stanley Cup. Alex Ovechkin leads a very talented bunch into this series against a very sluggish looking Canadiens squad. The Caps will look to Jose Theodore in net, who has been red-hot of late. Goalie Jaroslav Halak of Montreal can get hot and be tough when he’s on, but I don’t see enough support from his teammates coming up to help. Simply put, this looks a lot like Washington’s year and the Habs look to be nothing more then a speed bump.
Prediction: Capitals in 5
2. New Jersey Devils vs 7. Philadelphia Flyers
[adinserter block=”1″]Different year, but the same ol New Jersey Devils back and ready for more. It seems like Martin Broduer has been playing forever, and is back in goal again this year for the Devils. However, the Philadelphia Flyers may not be so easy to rid of. This season they owned a 5-1 record against their hated rivals from Jersey, and managed to score 21 goals against Broduer who normally gives them fits. Philly needed every last possible second on Sunday against the Rangers to get here, and no matter how weak Brian Boucher has looked he seems to have decent games against the Devils and seems to be at his best under heavy pressure. Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise will need to provide the punch on offense and Philly will need to counter with size and strength in the form of big defenseman like Chris Pronger, who is making his 14th straight playoff appearance. It will not be so easy and the Flyers momentum may be enough to make this one interesting. Right now the Flyers play more like a team then anyone else in the East, so perhaps a big suprise?
Prediction: Flyers in 7
3. Buffalo Sabres vs 6. Boston Bruins
The Buffalo Sabres bring a rough and tough defensive approach and quality goal tending into this match up with the Boston Bruins. Ryan Miller of the U.S. Hockey team steps up and is back in playoff mode for the Sabres. Rookie goalie Tuukka Rask gets the nod for the Bruins since replacing another U.S. goalie in Tim Thomas. The Bruins are truly the walking wounded here, missing leading center Marc Savard and 3 of their top 6 defenseman to injury. Zdeno Chara may be 6 foot 9 but even he can’t cover the entire ice. The Sabres are one of the hottest teams in the NHL in penalty killing as well, which does not bode well for a Bruins team that is already the lowest goal scoring team to enter the playoffs. These games will be feisty, but no great surprises in the end.
Prediction: Sabres in 6
4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators
[adinserter block=”2″]Maybe the Ottawa Senators should have fixed a few games during the season? For the third time in four years they will meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs, and if history is any indication they should start making golf reservations. The Penguins do everything right. The have great talent, good defense, and tough goal tending. Meanwhile Ottawa keeps moving along as a middle-of-the-road team in the East, but they have no guns here. Alexi Kovalev is also done for the playoffs, which is a serious blow to the Sens. Imagine trying to win a gun fight when your Uzi locks up, that’s what the Sens have here.
Prediction: Penguins in 5
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