Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Preview

Not terribly in depth, but I'll use my limited knowledge to my advantage:

Eastern Conference:

1 Washington Capitals vs. 8 New York Rangers

The Rangers nearly had the same fate as 2010, but when the Canes went and laid an egg, all was saved. The Caps had really flown under the radar for most of the season after HBO's 24/7, and had a late season charge to win the top seed in the East.. The Caps are still the same old Caps, they can score and skate, but goaltending lacks. They have some slight injury issues, but I don't see that becoming too big of an issue. The Rangers lost Ryan Callahan to Zdeno Chara's renegade puck to the ankle, and that will pose major problems. The Rangers have been streaky, and they're on the wrong side of one of those right now. The Caps are coming in expecting wins, and I think they'll have a relatively easy time with the Rangers. I know the Caps have had their playoff struggles, but they'll win this series.

Prediction: Caps in 5

2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. 7 Buffalo Sabres

The Flyers had another March malaise and nearly slipped all the way to fourth in the East after that. They secured the 2 seed with some trouble, but they are still a very talented and very deep team. The problems lie with injuires, and goaltending. Gee, that sounds familiar doesn't it? For Buffalo, they lost Derek Roy in December, but they've kept on ticking. They aren't a glamor team, they just work hard to score and they have one of the best goalies around in Ryan Miller. The Sabres have beaten the Flyers in many different ways this season, so a string of wins in this series shouldn't be a surprise. The Flyers need Sergei Bobrovsky or whoever's in net to step up big to prevent an early exit. Even without Chris Pronger, the Flyers are too good to lose in the 1st round, although this will be a grinding series.

Prediction: Flyers in 7

3 Boston Bruins vs. 6 Montreal Canadiens

33 times these 2 have met in the playoffs, and every time has been so much fun to watch. This year should be no different. With the bad blood between these 2 teams stemming from the Zdeno Chara incident, this should be a feisty series. The Habs have been backstopped by Carey Price all season, and they will need him plenty in this series. The Bruins are potentially the most complete team in the East right now, and they can score, check, and defend very well. The Habs seem to always play the B's better than any other team in the league, and they'll need to get after Tim Thomas early and often in order to steal games in Boston. Even though the Habs are a great team, the B's are just too good to lose in the 1st round with the team they've assembled.

Prediction: Bruins in 6

4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning

Even without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Pens managed to be a point away from the 2 seed in the East. They have needed guys like Jordan Staal, Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz, and others to step up big in the absence of the stars, and they have. The Lightning enjoyed a resurgent year, lead by one of the premier scorers in hockey Steven Stamkos, and they still have Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis to help out with that. The Lightning of the last few years have been focused on scoring, and the defense has been lacking. This isn't the case anymore, with wily veteran Dwayne Roloson between the pipes, and the presence of Eric Brewer and Victor Hedman has helped. The Lightning are a team on the rise, and they are so explosive that the Pens will be overwhelmed quickly.

Predicition: Lightning in 6

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