The Eastern and Western Conference matchups have come down to the last day of the season to settle out. Here is what they look like:
(1) Boston Bruins vs. (8) Montreal Canadiens
The Bruins have been the cream of the East this season, winning a total of 53 games and obtaining 116 points. They have also pretty much handled the Canadiens this season, winning five of their six games this season and the only loss came in the shootout. The Canadiens have been in a standard free fall since the second half of the season and GM Bob Gainey may need to win a playoff series to keep his job. The key word is may though, he did get them into the playoffs. This series looks to be the most lopsided of them all with the Bruins scoring the second most goals at home and allowing the fourth least. In saying that, the Canadiens are expected to win 32% of the time. The Canadiens may get one game in this but not much else.
(2) Washington Capitals vs. (7) New York Rangers
The Capitals and the Rangers have not faced each other since February 11th. This means that the wildcard of this series and every Rangers game, Sean Avery, hasn't been unleashed on the Capitals yet. The Rangers have been in the same freefall that the Canadiens have been in and they should be ready to go now with coach Tortorella barking the orders. Nothing is going to hold off Ovechkin though and he should be the best player in this series. The Capitals beat the Rangers three out of the four times they met this season and things shouldn't change much in the playoffs. The Capitals have the largest winning percentage out of all of the playoff teams at 54%. Capitals in six.
(3) New Jersey Devils vs. (6) Carolina Hurricanes
The league's hottest team as of late faces the team that has the aging wonder as goalie. The Hurricanes have won nine of their last eleven games to finish out the regular season including two games against this Devils team. The Devils have a rested Martin Brodeur of sorts after being injured for most of the season. This may help them in the long run due to the fact that Brodeur has seemed to be tired by the time the playoffs have come in the last few years. The Hurricanes should take this one in five. The Devils have been much better at home and that extra game will help them. Devils in six.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Philadelphia Flyers
The first battle series in the playoffs features two teams that really do dislike each other. The Penguins and the Flyers faced off in last year's playoffs with the Penguins coming out on top. This time around should be much closer. Both of these teams are evenly matched with a difference in winning percentage of one percent. This is probably going to be one of the few series that goes seven and if that is the case the Penguins will have the home field advantage. Penguins in seven.
(1) San Jose Sharks vs. (8) Anaheim Ducks
The second battle series is the second time a Battle of California has happened. The boys at Battle of California are thrilled. The Sharks are the President's trophy team and they are going to be the team to beat in the West. They also have had issues getting out of the second round in the last few years, losing there in the last three years. The Sharks should have a fun time with a very physical Ducks team and should win in five.
(2) Detroit Red Wings vs. (7) Columbus Blue Jackets
The feel good Columbus Blue Jackets head into the playoffs facing divison foe Red Wings. This may actually be a good thing for the Blue Jackets in that they split the season series this year and the crazy crowd at the Nationwide Arena will no doubt help. The Red Wings are a very experienced team that are trying to defend their crown. I really do think that the Blue Jackets are going to have a shot and say Jackets in six.
(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) St. Louis Blues
The Blues had one of those seasons. They lost their star defenseman to a freak golf cart injury to start the season and their starting goaltender to a freak red carpet incident. Then they made the playoffs. They face a Vancouver team that ended up stumbling into the Northwest division that the Flames gave them with their cap and injury issues. I really do think that the Blues are going to have way too much to handle with Luongo in net. Canucks in six.
(4) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (5) Calgary Flames
The Blackhawks have officially ignited hockey again in Chicago. The Flames have stumbled a little on their way to the playoffs. The main issue for Blackhawks in this series is going to be the youth of their team with most of the team never experiencing a playoff game before. Their goaltending is solid but its probably not going to be enough. Flames in six.