Eastern Conference Predictions

 Written by Andy Dunk

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Eastern Conference Predictions

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 New York Rangers

            The Capitals are in a similar situation to last season. Last year the Capitals compiled similar numbers and received the number one seed. Many thought that the Capitals would breeze by the Canadiens last year but the Canadiens pulled the upset. There is potential for this to happen again. The Capitals are led by their attack with Alexander Ovechkin back and healthy. Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom have provided secondary scoring throughout the year. If the Rangers are to pull the upset, they will need a big series by goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers have the potential to pull the upset, but I do not see the Capitals going out in the first round two years in a row. Rangers in 6

#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #7 Buffalo Sabres

            Earlier in the year many saw the Flyers as the team to be in the Eastern Conference. They started out strong but faded near the end of the regular season, losing the number one seed. They are questionable in goal with Sergei Bobrovsky stepping in. They are matched up against a tough Sabres team led by Thomas Vanek. In goal Buffalo has a game changer in Ryan Miller. We all saw in the Olympics what he can do when the pressure is on. In the playoffs goalies can win series for teams as we saw with the Blackhawks last year. While I see Buffalo putting up a good run, I think that the Flyers will eventually take this series. They gained valuable playoff experience during their Stanley Cup run last year and I see it paying off. Chris Pronger should be back on defense for this series and Claude Giroux will provide enough scoring for the Flyers to take this one…barely. Flyers in 7

#3 Boston Bruins vs. #6 Montreal Canadiens

            This is another one of those series that could go either way. Boston is a solid team led by the best goalie in the league, Tim Thomas who led the NHL in goals-against average and set a record with a .938 save percentage. He will be helped by the ferocious Zedeno Chara on defense whose physical presence will be felt. The Canadiens are also led by their netminder, Carey Price. He tied for the league lead in wins and also posted impressive statistics. On offense, both of these teams are well-rounded. The Bruins are led by Milan Lucic and David Krejci while Montreal will rely on Tomas Plekanec. In the end this series will boil down to the goalies and I think that Thomas is the one to bet on. Bruins in 6

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Tampa Bay Lightning

            This series could be one of the most talked about series in the post season. The storylines center around the Penguins success even in the absence of Crosby and Malkin due to injury. With both stars out for this series, many question whether the Penguins have enough fire power to advance. On the other side, the Lightning are led by three stars on offense. Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos both were in the top five in scoring in the NHL. Vincent Lecavalier should provide secondary scoring for the Lightning. Scoring has not been a problem though for the Lightning who were near the top of the NHL in goals. Defense and goaltending has been shaky for this team at times but the offense has overshadowed in. On Pittsburgh ’s side, Jordan Stall will need to step up and fill in as the star. Marc Andre Fleury has the stuff to be a brick wall in goal which is what the Penguins will need to win this series. I think that the injuries will catch up to the Penguins squad and that the Lightning will prevail. Lightning in 7
Andy Dunk

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