Welcome to the NHL preview for the first round of the playoffs. The greatest thing about the playoffs is that the seeds really dont matter, for example there have been numerous times that the #8 seed has defeated the number #1 seed in the first round. If you remember from last year the Flyers came out of nowhere and got all the way to the Cup Finals before bowing out to the Chicago Blackhawks. What about the improbable run of the Montreal Canadians last year defeating both the Capitals and the Penguins. It is really shaping up to be a great playoff this year so lets get to the match-ups.
#1 Washington Capitals vs #8 New York Rangers - The Rangers were on the outside looking in last year but this year they get in by the seat of their pants. They needed a loss in the last game by the Carolina Hurricanes and got it. The Washington Capitals after struggling for the most of the beginning part of the season seem to have gotten things together lately. The Capitals though have been disappointments in recent years in the playoffs, and Caps have be very nervous again this year. In the end, I think the Capitals will get it done in this series, if not there has to be some real questions raised about Alexander the Great.
#2 Philly Flyers vs #7 Buffalo Sabres - The Flyers come into the series and the playoffs on a bit of a downswing but do not let that fool you, this team is better then the team last year. They have looked a lot better this year, and if they can get solid goal tending they will be a tough out this year. The Buffalo Sabres do not do it with flash or big name players but they just get the job done. I think much of their success or failure is depending on how well Ryan Miller players. The defense for the Sabres cannot leave him out to dry though. The Flyers should win this series, they have more talent and they are deeper. The only way they lose is if they have a total meltdown in net.
#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 Montreal Canadians - There has been much bad blood between these two teams this season. This should be a very exciting series. The Canadians had a great run in the playoffs last year but they dealt Halak to the St. Louis Blues. The Boston Bruins have the Slovakian Crusher, Mr. Chara the captain, bringing pain to everyone that stands in his way. I really like this matchup its the best matchup in the Eastern Conference first round, the series should have great intensity. I think this one will go 7 games, and the Boston Bruins luckily get by the Canadians.
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Tampa Bay Lightning - In Pittsburgh they are saying no Crosby no problem, the team still does not know when the kid can come back but that has not stopped them from making the playoffs. This is another very interesting series, because I think that it will be a very high scoring affair. You do not hear much about the goal tending from either team, and both sides have very explosive offensives. This is the first series that I am putting the higher ranked seed on high upset alert. Tampa Bay is very talented and I think they are going to find a way to get it done.
#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #8 Chicago Blackhawks - The Blackhawks needed a Stars loss in the last game to get into the playoffs after losing half the team from last year due to cap problems. The Canucks have been the best team during the season. The only thing the Blackhawks have going for them is that they have had to play desperate for the last month to get into the playoffs and the Canucks have had no pressure on them for a while. Also, the Blackhawks have put the Canucks out of the playoffs the last two years, so there has to be some revenge on the Canuck's minds. I really think this series could go either way, so I am not picking either side because I do not want to jinx the Hawks.
#2 San Jose Sharks vs. #7 LA Kings - It was just a year ago when Niemi the goalie for the Sharks was helping the Blackhawks win the Cup now he looking for more in a different jersey. The San Jose Sharks will be looking to shake the failures of years past with early exits in the playoffs. The LA Kings have been playing good hockey as of late and they get very good goal tending from J. Quick. At first glance, one might think oh the Sharks are going to run the Kings out of the building, I think this is going to be a close series. The Sharks will win this series, but it is going to be tougher than most of the media thinks.
#3 Detroit Red Wongs vs #6 Phoenix Coyotes - The Red Wongs put the Coyotes out of the playoffs last year in a very hard fought series. I think the Coyotes will draw much confidence from the series last year but I do not know if they have enough talent to beat the Red Wongs. If the Coyotes want to win this series they are going to have to make things very tough on Jimmy Howard, the Red Wongs goalie. Detroit is an aging team and they are dealing with injuries, especially to Zetterberg. I hope I am wrong but I think that Red Wongs take the series in 6.
#4 Anaheim Mighty Ducks vs. #5 Nashville Predators - I think this is the best match-up in the first round of the playoffs in either conference. You have two up and coming teams with great goalies, much will depend on the health of Hiller the Ducks number one goalie. Both teams play very sound defense, especially the Predators being one of the lowest goals against teams in the league. Corey Perry and the rest of the Ducks are going to put that to the test, Perry led the league in goals this year. I really am excited for this series, and I think that this one is too close to call.
We will be back to preview the 2nd round match-ups once the first round is over. If you are still out work, God bless ya, you probably need a beer by this point. Have a great day.