Canadiens in 5
Two teams with not a whole lot of recent playoff experience meet as the surprising Canadiens who landed the top seed in the East meets a familiar postseason foe in the Bruins. For year the Bruins were frustrated by the Habs who seemed to have a long playoff vodoo over them, a vodoo that seemed to be catching this year as the Canadiens won all eight regular season match ups. Look for more of the same as the Bruins are probably the weakest team in the playoffs.
Red Wings in 6
The Red Wings are the best team in the regular season yet again, in the past it has been heaven or hell for Hockeytown, as the Red Wings have won a Stanley Cup with a President Trophy, and have suffered the indignity of a first round exit. While the Predators have yet to taste playoff success they could prove pesky to the Wings, whose age makes a quick series almost a necessity. Look for the Preds to be resilient, but in the end the Red Wings have too many weapons.
Penguins in 5
Last year when these two met in the first round, the Penguins were a young green team just getting their first taste of the postseason while the Senators were finishing the season strong and poised for a long run. Now the Penguins are the team with the talent that looks ready for a long run while the Senators limped to the finish line, with Daniel Alfredsson likely to miss the entire series. If the Senators were healthy they could give the Penguins a run for their money, but the Senators will be hard pressed to even go more then five games in their current state.
Sharks in 6
The Flames have been pesky to the Sharks in the past, and this year was no different as Calgary won the season series. However, the Sharks have been perhaps the best team in the NHL down the stretch and have too much talent not to win the series. However, it won’t come without its moments of fright as the Flames will put up a good fight. However, in the end the Sharks will win the series behind their balanced scoring attack and Goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
Capitals in 7
No team finished the season hotter then the Capitals who are making their first postseason appearance in seven years, while the Flyers are completing a strong turnaround after posting the fewest points in the NHL last season. Look for this series to go long, as the young Capitals led by Alexander Ovechkin, may experience playoff growing pains at first. However, in the end the sheer talent will win out as Alexander the Great continues his MVP season by getting the Caps into the second round of the NHL Playoffs.
Avalanche in 6
With the return of Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote at the trade deadline, the Avalanche have a familiar look to them, as they seemed to reach the Conference Finals almost every season. While they may be a little older, they can still win some games, and will be able to match up well with the Wild. Look for the Avalanche to win the series in six games as the Wild are not quite built for a long playoff run.
Devils in 7
This is the best series of the opening round as the heated rivals separated by the Hudson River meet in playoffs for the fifth time. In the regular season the Rangers dominated winning 7-of-8, but the Devils know how to win in the playoffs, and when you have the big equalizer in net those regular season games don’t matter much. Look for this to be a series of one goal games, with at least one or two long overtime games, as the Devils and Rangers battle in another classic two week war, with the Devils emerging victorious.
Ducks in 5
On paper this may seem like an even match up as four versus five match ups are always expected to be the closest match up. However, the Ducks are defending champs, with the ability to win again as they enter the playoffs healthy and with the almost same team that won the Cup last year, while the Stars are allergic to playing in May, as they have become experts in the first round exit. Look for Marty Turco to talk that long sullen walk again as the Stars playoff beards never go beyond 5:00 shadow with the Ducks winning the series in five.