2012 NHL Playoffs: Eastern Conference Preview

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 14: A general view of Mellon Arena before the start of play between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 14, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The postseason begins tonight, and we've got all the news and notes you need to know to get yourself ready for all eight series.

#1 New York Rangers vs. #8 Ottawa Senators

The Basics:
The energetic and passionate Rangers have spent most of the year in first place in the East, but they face the surprising Senators, who managed to hold on to the 8th spot. The Rangers won the season series 3-0-1.
SB Nation:
[Blueshirt Banter, Silver Seven]
Mainstream Previews:
[NHL.com, ESPN, Puck Daddy]

What To Watch For:
- Can Ottawa get pucks by Henrik Lundqvist? King Henrik has never had a team this solid in front of him, and it's his series to lose.

- Both teams have explosive top lines, but whose will put more points on the board?

- How will Brad Richards fare with all the pressure of a #1 seed in NYC?

Prediction:
Rangers in 5.

Viewing Info courtesy of NHL.com:

DATE TIME (ET) #1 vs. #8 Networks
Thursday, April 12, 2012 7 p.m. Ottawa at NY Rangers NHL Network, CBC
Saturday, April 14, 2012 7 p.m. Ottawa at NY Rangers NBC Sports Network, CBC
Monday, April 16, 2012 7:30 p.m. NY Rangers at Ottawa CBC, CNBC
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 7:30 p.m. NY Rangers at Ottawa CBC, CNBC
*Saturday, April 21, 2012 7 p.m. Ottawa at NY Rangers NBC Sports Network, CBC
*Monday, April 23, 2012 TBD NY Rangers at Ottawa TBD
*Thursday, April 26, 2012 TBD Ottawa at NY Rangers TBD

#2 Boston Bruins vs. #7 Washington Capitals

The Basics:
In one of the more intriguing series, the big, bad, Bruins are matched up against the red hot Capitals. The Capitals won their season series 3-1.
SB Nation:
[Stanley Cup Of Chowder, Jaspers' Rink]
Mainstream Previews:
[NHL.com, ESPN, Puck Daddy]

What To Watch For:
- After last year's Cup winner, and spending the entire regular season with a target on their backs, do the Bruins have enough left in the tank for another deep run?

- As always, the Capitals go the way Ovechkin goes. Will he stay on his torrid pace, or fall apart again?

- The Bruins have a clear advantage in net, so how will Brayden Holtby step his game up?

Prediction:
Bruins in 6.

Viewing Info courtesy of NHL.com:

SERIES B TIME (ET) #2 vs. #7 Networks
Thursday, April 12, 2012 7:30 p.m. Washington at Boston NBC Sports Network, CBC
Saturday, April 14, 2012 3 p.m. Washington at Boston NBC, CBC
Monday, April 16, 2012 7:30 p.m. Boston at Washington NBC Sports Network, CBC
Thursday, April 19, 2012 7:30 p.m. Boston at Washington NBC Sports Network, CBC
*Saturday, April 21, 2012 3 p.m. Washington at Boston NBC, CBC
*Sunday, April 22, 2012 TBD Boston at Washington TBD
*Wednesday, April 25, 2012 TBD Washington at Boston TBD

#3 Florida Panthers vs. #6 New Jersey Devils

The Basics:
Florida is generally regarded as the worst division winner in a while, while New Jersey is generally regarded as "a pretty good team, I guess." This is generally regarded as a boring series. The teams split their season series 2-2.
SB Nation:
[Litter Box Cats, In Lou We Trust]
Mainstream Previews:
[NHL.com, ESPN, Puck Daddy]

What To Watch For:
- Can Marty Brodeur recapture playoff magic? His play has been off and on this season.

- How will the Panthers deal with the pressure of the playoffs?

- Does anyone really care who wins this series?

Prediction:
Devils in 6.

Viewing Info courtesy of NHL.com:

DATE TIME (ET) #3 vs. #6 Networks
Friday, April 13, 2012 7 p.m. New Jersey at Florida NHL Network, TSN
Sunday, April 15, 2012 7:30 p.m. New Jersey at Florida NBC Sports Network, TSN
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 7 p.m. Florida at New Jersey NHL Network, TSN
Thursday, April 19, 2012 7 p.m. Florida at New Jersey NHL Network, TSN
*Saturday, April 21, 2012 6:30 p.m. New Jersey at Florida NHL Network, TSN
*Tuesday, April 24, 2012 TBD Florida at New Jersey TBD
*Thursday, April 26, 2012 TBD New Jersey at Florida TBD

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Philadelphia Flyers

The Basics:
The de-facto "must watch" series features the cross-state rivalry of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. This should be a knock-down, drag-out series between two talented and experienced teams that do not like each other one bit. The Flyers won their season series 4-2.
SB Nation:
[Pensburgh, Broad Street Hockey]
Mainstream Previews:
[NHL.com, ESPN, Puck Daddy]

What To Watch For:

- Sidney Crosby. That is all.

- Will Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk make it back in time to impact this series?

- How will Ilya Bryzgalov respond to the pressure of the playoff run he was brought in for?

- Who will win the battles of firepower in terms of scoring and physicality?

Prediction:
Penguins in 7.

Viewing Info courtesy of NHL.com:

DATE TIME (ET) #4 vs. #5 Networks
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 7:30 p.m. Philadelphia at Pittsburgh NBC Sports Network, TSN
Friday, April 13, 2012 7:30 p.m. Philadelphia at Pittsburgh NBC Sports Network, TSN
Sunday, April 15, 2012 3 p.m. Pittsburgh at Philadelphia NBC, TSN
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 7:30 p.m. Pittsburgh at Philadelphia NBC Sports Network, TSN
*Friday, April 20, 2012 7:30 p.m. Philadelphia at Pittsburgh NBC Sports Network, TSN
*Sunday, April 22, 2012 TBD Pittsburgh at Philadelphia TBD
*Tuesday, April 24, 2012 TBD Philadelphia at Pittsburgh TBD
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