Unlike the Western Conference.....the Eastern Conference was a complete failure for me. I got the collar in the East, 0-for-4. Here's hoping for the best in the second round, but I don't know how well off it'll be. I mean, who knew all the top seeds would be out-- COME ON!!
(4) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS vs. (8) MONTREAL CANADIENS
The folklore of Sidney Crosby continues to grow this year, with 14 points in his first series over the Ottawa Senators. A bigger point is 14 of the 21 guys who have hit the ice for the Penguins have a point, though playoff wonder of Ruslan Fedotenko has yet to register a point-- which is something that will be looked at if he can actually bounce back, especially since he seems to be playing only once a week and is a minus-3 in his two games this playoffs. Luckily, it seems that Evgeni Malkin is getting back from his slumping regular season with four goals, four assists in six games. The one good thing about this match-up is that Marc-Andre Fleury may not be as tested as the last round. Fleury had a 2.75 GAA and .890 save percentage that is something that you don't expect from a Cup winner.
The Canadiens can be considered a block party (I won't use a Bloc Quebecois joke) and Hal Gill has been a solid pick-up for that back-end for the Canadiens. In fact, the Habs had as many blocked shots as the Capitals had shots on goal in Game Seven. Jaroslav Halak has looked sensational after his game hiatus, but does seem to be beatable, though is numbers tell a different tale. However, the big issues is that only Gill, PK Subban, and Ryan O'Byrne are plus players on the team. The offense for the Habs is something that has been lead by Mike Cammalleri and to a lesser extent, Tomas Plekanec. The Habs scored less that three goals per game and could be vulnerable to an onslaught from an offensive team.
PREDICTION: Penguins in Six. While the Habs could give the Penguins some troubles in the first couple of games with their block ability, much like the Senators tried to do in the last two games of that series, the Penguins will adjust because they've seen it before and have seen the motive of the Canadiens game-plan.
(6) BOSTON BRUINS vs. (7) PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Not only is the big boost from the Bruins by winning the goalie war with Tuukka Rask over Ryan Miller, but the return of Marc Savard should prove to be something of at least a morale boost, but we'll see if a month or so off will give them a boost on the ice as well. With the likes of Mark Recchi, Miro Satan, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron being atop the team scoring charts for the last series. Savard can pack a punch if he's as good as he was when he left. The best part is that they're getting scoring from all around now, from maybe the unlikeliest of places. The story should be Rask, who was solid and could be the second goalie in as many years to be the story getting the Bs to the Conference Finals.
The story with the Flyers was the comeback of Brian Boucher, in a big way. It was about 10 years since he was really relevant. Boucher's 1.59 GAA and .940 save percentage are nothing short of stellar for the journeyman back-up in Boucher and proves a hot goalie will get you anywhere. However, Boucher will HAVE to be sharp; as Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, and Ian Laperierre will be lost for the Flyers going forward. While Daniel Carcillo and Claude Giroux have been clutch in their new roles, Mike Richards and Daniel Briere will have to really step up their game. Also, the likes of James van Riemsdyk and the new straight haired Scott Hartnell (AKA white Katt Williams) will need to be a whole lot better than the first round. It should be interesting to see what the week layoff will do to the Flyers.
PREDICTION: Bruins in Seven. With the depleted roster for the Flyers and the boost from Savard for the Bruins, the Flyers will be in deep if the top guys are not there for them. The Bruins will rely heavily on Rask to be the strong backstop and maybe the thing that sparks the team. However, if Rask can't spark them and the slackers on the Flyers can get on the ball-- it could be an interesting series from top to bottom.