I did this the last 2 years now and basically it is just going to be my breakdown on the Eastern Conference Playoffs. I dont watch the West or follow any teams over there so I wouldnt have more than a guess to who I would think would be coming out of their. So lets start it off!
Montreal was one of the worst offensive teams in the East. I believe they were tied for the third worst goals for in the East. I just dont see them hanging with the Capitals in this department. Washington was the #1 offensive team and that should carry them this series.
I think Washington has improved over the past 3 seasons on D. I think both teams are not exactly defensive squads so this one is pretty hard to determin. Washington will probably get more production from its D where Montreal will have more defensive D men.
Jaroslav Halak is an outstanding goalie. He battled all year with Carey Price for the starting position but he clearly is the #1 in Montreal. He has the ability to steal games but the only concern is this is his first real post season. Jose Theodore will get the nod in net for Washington and he has had a solid season however he is starting to get up there in age and going by his performance last year in the playoffs this will be a huge concern for Washington. I don't see a Washington goalie stealing any games, however I could see them losing a few for the Capitals.
What to watch for:
Wheather or not the Habs can score, see if Halak can steal a few games, Washingtons goalie Jose Theodore and if the powerful offense can carry the Capitals.
Series: Washington in 5
Flyers scored only 14 more goals than the Devils all season. Carter, Gagne, Richards, and Briere can all put the puck in the net. The Devils picked up Kovalchuk to add some scoring depth to their lineup which includes Parise, Elias, and Zajac.
Both teams were built defensively this season. Flyers aquired veteran Chris Pronger at the draft to bolster their defense while the Devils have continued to be a defensive team as they have demonstrated for many seasons now.
Broduer vs Boucher. No contest. Broduer is clearly the better goalie. However his recent playoff appearances have been less than stellar. Boucher has playoff experience but none recently and his consistency has been off. He is entering the playoffs on a high with a 3-1 record in his last 4 games.
What to watch for:
Awesome Atlantic Division matchup to start. Look for a very low scoring series. Look for the Flyers to ride the emotional wave into the first round after a very dramatic win to get into the playoffs against the Rangers. Will the Flyers continue their dominace over the Devils or will NJ step it up? Flyers won the season series 5-1. Keep an eye on the defense because ultimately that is what the series is going to come down too. Which team is going to be better in its own zone and help their goalie out the most?
Series: Flyers in 6
No question here. Boston has too many issues putting the puck in the net. However to end the season the Bruins scored 10 times in the last 3 games including a 3-1 victory over the Sabres.
Depends if they will have Seidenberg back. Chara is a beast on the back end and Boston has won many games because of their D and goaltending. They struggle offensively so this is where they pick up their game. Defense wins championships but they are going to have to score to win.
Best goalie in the East. Without a doubt Ryan Miller is going to be the reason the Sabres make any noise in the playoffs. He will need to be ontop of his game if the Sabres want to advance. Tuuko Rask has been flying under the radar however and he may be the second best goalie in the East playoffs.
What to watch for:
This is going to be a good series as well. Hard to pick who will win this one. Watch for the goaltending to shine in this series and for the games to be low scoring. This series is lacking the big superstar names outside of Ryan Miller though. I think Miller or Rask will win the series for their team.
Series: Boston in 7
Crosby and Malkin have the experience. They know what it takes to win and Ottawa's offense has been up and down all season. They will need a big series from Spezza and Alfredson if they hope to make any noise.
Experienced once again. Gonchar is having an off season but Orpik has developed into a solid D man. Leopold adds some depth to the defense and Ottawa once again has been pretty inconsistent.
Goalies: Slight Edge Penguins
Fleury is not entering the playoffs on a high note. He has not looked very solid as of late and his entire career he has been off and on. It is really going to depend on which Fleury shows up for the playoffs. Brian Elliot had a great season but is struggling as of late as well. Honestly this is probably the least entertaining series in the East.
Watch to watch for:
I wouldn't really suggest watching this series. Unless your a fan of either team. Ottawa needs production from Spezza to win but I dont think they have the depth the Penguins have. I guess the biggest thing to watch for is the goaltending. See which goalie stands out the most and if either can steal any games. Elliot is solid but its his first postseason.