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As far as my NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Round 1 predictions go, I was 3-for-4. The Pittsburgh Penguins let me down and I finished the entire first round with an overall record of 7-1. The NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference quarterfinals didn’t lack for intensity and excitement, either. The Boston Bruins – Montreal Canadiens series was a 7-game thriller. The Philadelphia Flyers – Buffalo Sabres series was a 7-game thriller. Oh, and yes, the series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning went the full 7-games, too. The Washington Capitals dispatched the New York Rangers in 5-games. Onward we skate to the NHL Playoffs Round 2!
THE EASTERN CONFERENCE
See Tony’s predictions after the jump >>
The Eastern Conference 1st-round of the NHL Playoffs offers me the opportunity to provide a quick-and-dirty review, preview, and prediction. While a painfully long NHL regular season rolls into a painfully long NHL post-season, make no mistake about one thing – I’m a huge fan of all things hockey. I can make it through a lot of hockey en route to the NHL Playoffs and then I’m hard pressed to miss a whole lot of it.
The Eastern Conference
#1 Seed Washington Capitals hosting the #8 Seed New York Rangers
The New York Rangers have enough fire power to hang with the Washington Capitals. Don’t let the difference in seeding fool anyone here. In terms of statistical comparisons, call it a draw. The Rangers scored more goals during the regular season and the difference between them in goals against was exactly one. Defense and goaltending rule the playoffs and these two teams have a near identical showing in each category. Throw the seeds out the window in this contest because they simply confuse the issue. These two teams are about as evenly matched as they get and a Rangers win would be the furthest thing from an “upset” as I will have witnessed in recent years.
Hot Spots: For the Rangers it has to be the 11-shutout goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist. For the Capitals, it’s no surprise that it’s Alex Ovechkin that led the Caps to a sizzling close to the regular season as the Flyers fell back to the field.
I don’t see the Capitals choking two seasons in a row and pick them to win this series.
More on the Eastern Conference Round One after the jump >>
I guess because the Penguins/Capitals Game 7 was kind of a bust
— unless you are Pens fan — ESPN’s headline writers decided they’d phone it in on their image caption for the game. March of the Penguins? Is that the best you can offer? Surely you jest? Granted, there aren’t a great deal of pop culture references that fit Pittsburgh’s hockey team, but does that mean you have to force one on your website-viewing public? Hell, “Crosby, Skates and Smash” would’ve been better — provided you are aware of the Crosby, Stills and Nash reference.
OK, maybe not; but then again, I’m not responsible for creating these snappy headlines. Maybe my expectations are too high…