NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

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NHL Eastern Conference Playoffs




#1 Capitals versus #8 Rangers

Season series: Rangers won 3-1-0.

The Capitals were upset in the 1st round of last year’s playoffs, after being a top prediction pick to win the Stanley Cup. This year the team has focused on becoming more of a playoff team, and improving team defense. The result has been 36 fewer goals against, but also a lower goals for. The Caps averaged 1.14 goals per game, and Alex Ovechkin scored a career low 32 goals. However the Caps are a much more rounded team. 

The Rangers secured the 8th spot in the East this year, after missing the playoffs by 1-point last season. The Rangers are dealing with an ankle injury to their heart-and-soul forward Ryan Callahan. However, you can bet that goalie Henrik Lundqvist will be on top of his game and the Rangers best chance to upset the Capitals.

#2 Flyers versus #7 Sabres

Season series: Flyers won 2-1-1.
The Flyers are a top team in the East again, but their goaltending is still their weak point. Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky will start the series, but could be replaced by Michael Leighton if he plays poorly. Leighton is a decent option for the Flyers, helped the team reach the Stanley Cup final last year. A huge boost would be if Chris Pronger returns to the lineup. He has missed 16 games with a hand injury.

Buffalo has been one of the hottest teams in the NHL since the all-star break, thanks to Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller. He will once again be the key to the teams success. The Sabres will be looking to advance past the 1st round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

#3 Bruins versus #6 Canadians

Season series: Canadiens won 4-2-0.

This will be another epic battle between two great Original Six teams. Odds are the main focus of the battle will be between the pipes. As the series will feature two of the NHL's top goalies.

The Bruins Tim Thomas is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy after setting a NHL record with a .938 save percentage. While the Canadians Carey Price tied for the NHL lead, and franchise record, with 38 wins.

A side story may be the bad blood from the Zdeno Chara-Max Pacioretty incident.

Expect a low scoring, physical, old-time hockey type series.

#4 Penguins versus #5 Lightning

Season series: Teams tied 2-2-0.

Not many would have predicted the Penguins to finish 4th while missing their top forwards, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, for almost half the season.

Despite many players missing games due to injury, this team has rallied behind potential Jack Adams Award winner Dan Blysma. Bet on the same solid team play in the post-season. 

Crosby has yet to be cleared for contact in practice, and probably will not make an appearance in the series.

Tampa returns to the playoffs after missing the previous 3 years. This team should have an edge in the offensive category with Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier.

Dwayne Roloson may be questionable in goal. However, he does have the experience of helping the Edmonton Oilers reach the Stanley Cup final in 2006.



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