A Look At The Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals

In the "for what it's worth" department, here's my take on the other first round playoff series, starting in the Eastern Conference:

Washington vs. Philadelphia -- Both teams made it into the post-season by the skin of their teeth, really. The Capitals made an insane late-season push, and the Flyers squeaked in at the last possible minute. But they're here, and that's all that matters.

Washington goes as Alex Ovechkin goes, so naturally he will be the focus of attention by Philadelphia. Given the latter team's penchant for flat-out thuggish behavior, do not be surprised if someone tries something both dangerous and illegal to remove #8 from the lineup.

That said, if Ovechkin survives, even with a dozen Flyers draped all over him the man can light it up like no one else. Even if you set him aside, Washington is an overall better team than Philadelphia.
Predicted winner: Washington

Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa -- Say, didn't you used to be the Ottawa Senators, not hockey's reenactment of the Washington Senators? This team is more screwed up than your average Hollywood teen star. Sidney Crosby, even with his tender ankle, and Evgeni Malkin plus a stellar supporting cast must be licking their chops. Well, beaks.
Predicted winner: Pittsburgh

Montreal vs. Boston -- Montreal is to the Eastern Conference what Los Tiburones de San José is to the Western Conference, namely a team boasting a stellar record yet with "yeah, but..." seemingly permanently attached to their accomplishments. This duly noted, Le Bleu, Blanc et Rouge (hope I spelled that correctly) are loaded with far more firepower than the Bruins even with Saku Koivu hobbled. Also, Montreal has defeated Boston in eleven straight games, obviously going back to last year. That's 8-0 in favor of the Habs this year. Bye, Boston.
Predicted winner: Montreal

New York Rangers vs. New Jersey -- Send the children out of the room for this one. The teams hate each other, the fans hate each other, the states hate each other, and any time a Girl Scout troop from one state encounters their counterparts from the other all parties have to be wanded for switchblades hidden in their cookies. Other than that, it's a veritable lovefest whenever the Rangers and the Devils pay one another a social call.

Neither team can score worth a lick, and neither is exactly stellar behind the blueline which could make things moderately interesting. However, New Jersey has Martin Brodeur. New York has Henrik Lundqvist. Yes, he's played well this year. Yes, the Devils were 1-4-3 against the Rangers this year. But this is the post-season. And until Brodeur hangs up his mask, in a series where neither team has a decided advantage, he's all the advantage New Jersey needs.
Predicted winner: New Jersey