Alright-- we've got the match-ups, we've got the buzz; now time for the typical picks. It's definitely something that's hack, but it's a given for most places. I'm no exception on this one. Have to be part of the herd on this one.
(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) New York Rangers
Prediction: Capitals in Six Games
Why??: The Caps are good and while they have some kind of question of goaltending-- all around, I think they are better than the Rangers. Plus, they have been preparing all year for these playoffs and now it'll truly show if the system change was worth it.
(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Buffalo Sabres
Prediction: Flyers in Seven Games
Why??: Ryan Miller can only carry the Sabres so far, but the Flyers are going to be in tough without Chris Pronger. The fact remains that the Flyers are second-seed for a reason and they won't want to fail after a great run last year.
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Montreal Canadiens
Prediction: Bruins in Six Games
Why??: Tim Thomas has been sturdy and will be the guy to keep the Bs in it this year. Plus, the added feeling of trying to get Mark Recchi another Cup ring before he retires may fuel the emotional side of the Bruins-- added to the Bs/Habs match-up we've come to know and love (or loathe).
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning
Prediction: Lightning in Six Games
Why??: While they have a rookie coach, the Bolts have a key guys who have been to the trenches when it comes to the playoffs, including Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier, couples with the ageless Dwayne Roloson-- who has pulled a couple rabbits out of his hat in Minnesota and Edmonton before.
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Chicago Blackhawks
Prediction: Canucks in Five Games
Why??: While the Hawks have had the Canucks' number in the past two playoffs-- the Hawks don't seem to be the same team, while the Sedins and Roberto Luongo will be wanting revenge for the past year failure. A lot of pressure on the Canucks, so they'll want to prove the critics wrong.
(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Los Angeles Kings
Prediction: Sharks in Five Games
Why??: Without Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, the Kings are going to be hard-pressed to deal with the playoffs in terms of scoring. Plus, it appears that Antti Niemi is back in his form that got him a Cup ring last year, added to the offense that Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Logan Couture will probably provide.
(3) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Phoenix Coyotes
Prediction: Red Wings in Six Games
Why??: The rematch from last year's first round probably won't go the full seven, but should be a solid one. I expect Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to step their game up, while Jimmy Howard will have to silence his critics somehow-- a long playoff run will do that. The offense for the Coyotes could be questioned, too-- as they only had one 20-goal scorer.
(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Nashville Predators
Prediction: Predators in Seven Games
Why??: While the Ducks have been on a hot streak, Pekka Rinne will be the guy to kill the Ducks, like so much Nintendo. Corey Perry will be the main guy on the Ducks, but expect Shea Weber to shut him down from the start.
That's how it is from me-- quick and dirty. No need to break it down scientifically because when have playoffs ever been scientific?? It's a bunch of lucky bounces, fate happens, and we saw that last year because the top-seeds in the East got eliminated last year in the first round-- you can't explain that. It starts for real on Wednesday-- so enjoy it.