It's that time of year again! The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin tomorrow, so here are the official Atom-Bomb Bikini prognostications. I'll cover the Western Conference Wednesday (hopefully before the first puck drops!), and here's the picks for the East!
(1) Boston Bruins vs. (8) Montreal Canadiens
The Bruins and Habs come into this year's playoffs as mirror images of themselves from last year, with Boston dominating the Eastern Conference most of the year and Montreal scraping at the end to try to stay in the mix. The Bruins made it interesting against the Canadiens in 2008, something this fatigued and banged up Centennial Edition of Les Bleu, Blanc et Rouge will be hard-pressed to emulate. Bruins in five.
(2) Washington Capitals vs. (7) New York Rangers
I don't like the Capitals. I don't really much care for Alex Ovechkin. The broadcast team for Washington's games are a couple of grating, virtually unlistenable blowhards. And with the exception of a couple of my really good friends (great fans who realize the team was there before 2006), their fanbase is entirely composed of the kind of douchebags who would spend $190 on a personalized jersey with "Crosby Sucks" on the nameplate. That said, I really hope they can overcome their suspect goaltending, beat the Rangers and give all those Caps fans what they think they want, a second round matchup with Pittsburgh. Any way you look at it, it would be an exciting series...and the idea of beating them in the playoffs again is almost too delicious to contemplate. Capitals in six.
(3) New Jersey Devils vs. (6) Carolina Hurricanes
This will be something like the millionth straight trip to the playoffs (actually the 12th) for the Devils. For Carolina, it's the first time back since they won the Stanley Cup in 2005-2006, thanks to a couple late-season flops the past two years. They're familiar playoff foes, having met three previous times in the last ten years. The Devils are always dangerous with Martin Brodeur in goal...dude can steal a series... but the Canes are the hotter team, having won a dozen games in a row at home. I was there two weeks ago for a Saturday night Canes/Pens match, and that building rocks...Canes fans are INTO it. Still can't figure out why they show that video of Ted Danson every time they score, though. Hurricanes in seven.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers gave up a third period lead in the last game of the season and lost, enabling the Penguins to vault ahead of them in the standing and secure the fourth spot in the conference and home-ice advantage. I'm not sure how much it'll matter...I was actually kind of looking forward to the Pens splitting the first two games in Philly before heading home for games 3 and 4. But Pittsburgh has been great at home lately, and there's no reason to think that won't continue against a hated rival who knows they let one get away. Penguins in six.