(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (6) Carolina Hurricanes
So many little subplots in this one. The brothers Staal going at it with a trip to the finals at stake. Bill Cowher turning his back on his old home team and embracing the Hurricanes. But little actual hate. In fact, having spent years in living North Carolina, the Canes are one of those teams I generally root for when the Penguins aren't involved. Hell, I even created the banner for David Lee's Red and Black Hockey blog back before he migrated to Kukla's Korner. That said, I expect the warm fuzzy feelings to dissipate pretty quickly once the teams take the ice (and I already find another of their bloggers supremely annoying).
Both teams play a similar style and create a lot of offense, although I'd give a decided edge to the Pens skill players and their ability to score consistently. I think this series comes down to Cam Ward. If he can take over games the way he's capable and steal one, the Penguins may be in trouble. But if Evgeni Malkin can get on a hot streak and start scoring goals the way he's capable, look out.
My pal and Canes fan Davis made a trek down to Raleigh back in early April for the final regular season game between these teams, and although the Pens lost 3-2 in overtime, it was easily one of the most entertaining games I've ever been to. If there's a game six, we plan to make the trek again...so it'd be absolutely insane for me to predict anything besides Penguins in six.