Aside from the Flyers, there are a few other hopefuls in the Eastern Conference. I hope that their hope ends hopelessly, and hopefully our hopefuls reign supreme.1) Washington Capitals vs 8) New York Rangers
The Caps came out of nowhere to catch and pass the Flyers for the top spot in the conference. Their regular season success this year is thanks in large part to their focus on defense. Despite a bit of a rotation in net, they only surrendered 2 more goals than the Bruins. They had to compensate for a drop in scoring, after netting 94 less goals than last year. They still have no depth at center, and I’m not convinced they’re that solid of a playoff team. Meanwhile, the Rangers have a world-class goalie, but tons of issues up front. Their best scoring threat, Marion Gaborik had an average season. Brandon Dubinsky lead the team in scoring with a paltry 54 points. A bunch of guys were hot in the beginning of the season until the midway point, before tailing off. Washington will benefit if they try to open things up a bit, because I don’t think New York can hang with them. But I think they’ll stick to their defensive game plan, and then the Rangers stand a much better chance. That’s why I pick them in the upset, Rangers in 6.
2) Philadelphia Flyers vs 7) Buffalo sabres
Preview and prediction coming tomorrow and Thursday. You don’t want to miss either one, trust me. Tomorrow will be a very interesting twist.
3) Boston Bruins vs 6) Montreal Canadiens
As Borat would say, wa-wa-we-wa. Division rivals, bad blood, and a pair of fanbases that hate each other. This should be a treat. Boston is good, really good. Tim Thomas is a monster in net, the have depth down the middle in David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, and Milan Lucic has emerged into a bona fide scorer. With Chara on defense, everyone else is just that much better. His size is obviously an advantage over everyone, but even more so against the mini’s from Montreal. The best way to play him is to hit him a lot, and they just don’t have the players to do it. Montreal brings speed across all their lines, and they’ll rely on a big group effort to generate offense. PK Subban and Roman Hamrlik are good on D, but it thins out a bit after that. Carey Price has proven that he can handle the load on his own this season. Still, I think Boston is just too good, and they’ll take it in 5.
4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs Tampa Bay Lightning
I haven’t heard any reports of Crosby coming back, so most of the star power comes from the sunshine state. Vinny Lecavalier, Steve Stamkos, and Martin St. Louis bring the funk, while Simon Gagne adds some flavor. They’ve got offense, we know that. And the Pens reinvented themselves, mid-season, into a defensive team. Marc-Andre Fleury has been solid down the stretch. Tampa loves to hang back in the trap, and wait for turnovers. They kill impatient teams that just fall for their scheme. Dan Bylsma is too smart to let his team get caught up in that though. Still, as smart of a coach as he is, I don’t think Pittsburgh has enough to advance. Regular season success is nice, but you need some big time players to go deep, and all of their are in the press box. Tampa in 6.
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Topics: Borat, Brandon Dubinsky, Buffalo Sabres, Carey Price, Dan Bylsma, David Krejci, Eastern Conference, Eastern Conference Quarter Finals, Marc-Andre Fleury, Marion Gaborik, Martin St. Louis, Milan Lucic, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Patrice Bergeron, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, PK Subban, Prince Of Wales, Roman Hamril, Sidney Crosby, Simon Gagne, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tim Thomas, Vincent Lecavalier, Washington Capitals, Zdeno Chara