Yesterday, myself and special guest Troy looked at the playoff series in the West, today we’ll look at the East, which features the real marquee matchup of the first round in Philly-Pittsburgh.
#1 New York Rangers vs. #8 Ottawa Senators
The Battle of teams that are 6-8 places ahead of their pre-season predictions! That’s right, the Senators were expected to be near the bottom of the Conference, while the Rangers were thought to be a bubble team, sitting in their usual 7-9 spot, but yet, here we are. Both teams have worked very hard and been very well coached to get to this point, but the clock will strike 12 for one of these Cinderellas very soon.
Troy Says: How surprised is everyone to see the Sens on the playoffs? I don’t think there were many people this year that thought they had it in them. Karlsson has emerged as one of the best defencemen in the league. According to NHL.com he’s joined by Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, and Denis Potvin as the only players to lead blueliner scoring by more than 20 points. That’s just flat out impressive. Their goaltending has also been good this year even though Anderson has been inconsistent at times. The play of Alfredsson and Spezza has been a big boost and their veteran leadership will certainly help this team. Too bad they’re up against the Rangers though. New York is a team I’ve enjoyed making fun of for the last number of years because they’ve been trying to buy their way to a cup and each time they’ve fallen flat on their faces. This year though they’ve finally got it right. Brad Richards has fit in very nicely and their young D corps has been impressive. Add to that Lundqvist in the net and this will be a hard team to beat. The only chance Ottawa has it to outscore them, which they are capable of doing.
Most Interesting Story: Goaltending, goaltending, and goaltending! The Senators have been striking gold all season with their men in the cage. First Anderson plays dynamite, and then when he gets hurt, Lehner steps in, and then they give Bishop a whirl and he looks great too. It doesn’t matter who they seem to put in, they seem to have some success.
Success, though is in the eye of the beholder, as few goalies have been as successful as current Vezina favourite, and potential Hart Trophy nominee, Henrik Lundqvist, who has been absolutely lights out this year. These two teams oddly match up very well in every other position, great playmaking centre, dynamic (but injury prone) scoring winger, and some great young d-men, but when it comes to the most important position, it’ll be like Ancient Rome. The Senators may have to bow to the King, but it’ll be a close fight to the end.
Et tu Bishop?
Most Interesting Stat: The Rangers earned 17 more points than the Sens this year, and allowed 53 less goals than they did. Both of these differences are tops amongst all of the playoff matchups this year. That being said, the Sens scored 23 more goals than the Rangers.
Glen’s Prediction: Rangers in 7 with both teams combining for four shutouts along the way.
Troy’s Prediction: For my money though this is New York’s series.
New York in 6
Coin’s Prediction: Senators in 7
#2 Boston Bruins vs. #7 Washington Capitals
Let’s see, where do we even start here? The defending champions taking on a team that thinks “Because it’s the Cup” is a reference to their Jock Straps? Or Tim Thomas exercising his rights as a Free Citizen by winning some games in DC, or will that damn Lamestream Media throw him off his game?
This is a simply fascinating series both on and off the ice and will no doubt provide endless analysis going forward.
Troy Says: This is not going to be a fun series for Washington. Washington is a team that tends to choke in the playoffs and they’re going against the defending champs. Not good. What is good though is that Ovechkin finally decided in the last few weeks to put the team back on his shoulders again and he has been his old self which is fun to see.
Most Interesting Story: Toughness! You have one team that is perceived as being soft against another team that often has the words “Big” and “Bad” in front of their name. Both teams have a ton to prove.
Chara vs. Ovechkin will be the most interesting matchup on the ice to watch for the next two weeks. Both men are big, both men can hit, and both men can take a hit. Chara is one of the best in the league and slowing guys down, but if Ovechkin is truly motivated than he’ll have his work cut out for him.
Most Interesting Statistic: The Boston Bruins scored 61 more goals than they allowed this year, far and away tops in the NHL, while the Capitals allowed 8 more than they scored. The Caps join their division rival Florida as the only teams in the league to make the playoffs with a negative goal differential.
Glen’s Prediction: Bruins in 4 with both Alex’s combining for only 2 goals
Troy’s Prediction: This could be a fun high scoring series, but it’s not going to last long.
Coin’s Prediction: Capitals in 6
#3 Florida Panthers vs. #6 New Jersey Devils
Much has been said about how little the Panthers deserve this spot. They backed into the three seed with a series of losses, they only have the sixth best record in the Conference, they have an embarrassing -24 goal differential, they lost a zillion games in overtime, and I heard some people blame them for both the Kennedy Assassination and the hole in the ozone layer. But the fact is, all of this doesn’t matter. Sure the standings probably should be changed, but they haven’t been. The 2012 Florida Panthers are not the first inferior team to benefit from the standings, and probably won’t be the last one. Right now everyone has zero wins and that’s all that matters.
Troy Says: Florida?? Really? They still have a team? Wow….and not only are they in the playoffs but they won their division so they actually have home ice against the Devils. As much as I like to make fun of this team they are worthy of their position. They don’t have that high end talent but they are consistent and can wear you down. The Devils however do have that high end talent. And they have three 30 goal scorers this season so if one cylinder isn’t firing, they have lots more to go to. Add to that Marty Brodeur who – even though he’s gotta be in his 50s by now – is still a damn good goalie and I think Florida’s return to the post season will be short lived.
Glen’s Prediction: New Jersey Devils in five with three of the games going to overtime.
Troy’s Prediction: New Jersey is like Detroit in that once they’re in the playoffs all bets are off.
Coin’s Prediction: Devils in 5
Glen’s Prediction: Pittsburgh win in six of the best game you’ve ever seen
Troy’s Prediction: Pittsburgh in 7.
Coin’s Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6
Quick Picks: The 2nd and 3rd Rounds
Devils over Rangers in 6 stunning games
Penguins over Bruins in 7 heavy games
Penguins over Devils in 5 to move on to face the Canucks
Finals have Penguins over Canucks in five with Crosby scoring the Overtime winner to leave the city very conflicted.
Penguins over Senators in 6
Devils over Capitals in 4
Penguins over Devils in 7
Finals: Detroit over Pittsburgh in 5
Does the coin know it’s not 2008 anymore?