1 Capitals vs. 8 Rangers
The Rangers are a really inconsistent team, and their top player- Ryan Callahan- is out. That doesn’t mix well against a Capitals team that is *gulp* better than they were last year. They are now much better defensively than they were, and Mike Green’s return will signify even bigger and better things to come for Washington’s defense. Prediction: Capitals in 4. MVP: Mike Knuble.
2 Flyers vs. 7 Sabres
The Sabres have surged lately to get to the playoffs, and they will meet a tough match against the Flyers. The Flyers have been off defensively of late, but it is very difficult to stop Jeff Carter and Danny Briere. Kimmo Timonen will hassle Vanek and Stafford en route to a close playoff series victory for the talented Flyers. Prediction: Flyers in
6. MVP: Claude Giroux.
3 Boston Bruins and 6 Montreal Canadiens
Wow. What a draw! The tensions are still boiling after the Chara hit, but the Canadiens don’t have the talent to back it up. Carey Price and Tim Thomas will make up a battle between two Vezina finalists, but the Canadiens lack the star power that Boston has. It will be a great series that is filled with emotion, but the Canadiens just don’t have the offense. Scott Gomez has not stepped up at all, and rookie P.K. Subban will not be able to win it all by himself. Prediction: Bruins in 6. MVP: Tim Thomas.
4 Penguins and 5 Lightning
Dan Bylsma has to be the greatest coach in hockey. He has led his Pens without two of the best players in the leauge and has turned them into one of the best defensive units. They are also great at penalty killing. They will meet a really good Tampa team that features Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. Heck, Lecavalier and Gagne are great players too. This is going to be a must-see series, and I think the Pens win it because of their defense. The Lightning just don’t have the defense, but this serious can go either way. As a Pens fan, I hope my prediction is right. Prediction: Pens in 7. MVP: James Neal.
1 Canucks and 8 Blackhawks
Nobody should be fooled by this eighth seed. The Hawks won it all last year, and they are still a formidable foe. This is a battle of two heavyweights; the best teams of the past two years. I think the Sedin brothers prove the difference in what will be a series everyone will be talking about. Prediction: Canucks in 7. MVP: Daniel Sedin.
2 Sharks and 7 Kings
This is yet another great matchup in what should be one of the best NHL Playoffs in years. The Sharks are always unfairly called “chokers”, and I think they come up with a statement here. LA is a really good team with Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, and Dustin Penner among others. However, Joe Pavelski is the most clutch player in hockey, and I think he goes crazy in the postseason. Prediction: Sharks in 6. MVP: Joe Pavelski.
3 Red Wings and 6 Coyotes
Detroit is always up there every year, but I want to talk a little bit about Phoenix. They have done a great job of focusing and playing great hockey even in the midst of the whole Goldwater circus and the future state of their franchise. They are going to give this juggernaut all they have, but the Wings’ playoff experience will just push them by in the final game of the series. Prediction: Red Wings in 7. MVP: Nicklas Lidstrom.
4 Ducks and 5 Predators
The Ducks have been incredible down the stretch, and that’s thanks to former Stanley Cup MVP Ryan Getzlaf and especially Hart candidate and top goal scorer Corey Perry. Lubomir Visnovsky has been excellent, and Ray Emery has been a heartwarming surprise. Vezina candidate Jonas Hiller went down with an injury, and former Senators’ star keeper Emery was put in the starting spot. He has been great after being deemed washed-up due to many injuries. The Predators are a solid team, but these Ducks are loaded. Prediction: Ducks in 5. MVP: Lubomir Visnovsky.