(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) Montreal Canadiens
As much as I might like to think that a return to Montreal to play his old team will get in Jose Theodore's head and cause him to lose his shit, there's no way the Capitals don't win this series. The Habs are going nowhere...if the season lasted another week, their spot in the playoffs would no doubt be claimed by the Rangers. Besides, an early Caps exit would deny the world another Washington/Pittsburgh playoff matchup and an eighth Penguins victory. No way Gary Bettman is letting that happen. Capitals in five.
(2) New Jersey Devils vs. (7) Philadelphia Flyers
This one seems like a no-brainer until you consider that the Devils, despite their fine record, managed only one win in six tries against the Flyers this year. For whatever reason, Philly has had New Jersey's number. I think that changes in this series. Best Goalie Of All Time or not, Martin Brodeur has been outplayed, frankly, in the playoffs the last couple years. However, I simply can't believe that Brian Boucher will be able to duplicate the success that Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Ward had in 2008 and 2009. It'll be a long, tough series, but it'll ultimately be a win for the Devils in seven.
(3) Buffalo Sabres vs. (6) Boston Bruins
U.S. Olympic hero Ryan Miller and the Sabres against a Boston team who've been fighting just to cling to a playoff spot the last two months. The Sabres have quietly put together a very impressive season, and may well prove to be the ultimate fly in the ointment for some unlucky Eastern Conference team before it's all said and done. Boston has struggled all season to score goals, so unless Miller has an epic meltdown, this one oughta be over quick. Sabres in five.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Ottawa Senators
These guys again? This'll be the third time the Pens and Sens have faced off in the first round in the last four years. The overall score stands at 1-1, and though neither of those series was close, this one definitely promises to be. Both teams have been up and down all season: The Senators have had long losing and winning streaks, while the Penguins have been in win two, lose one, win two, lose one mode since the beginning of December. If I'm being perfectly honest with you, I'll admit that playing the Sens in the first round scares the shit outta me...in fact, logic almost dictates that I pick them to win it. But, with all the thrills and joy the Pens have provided over the past two seasons, there's no way I'm giving up on them now...So, in the words of Bud Brigman, "FUCK LOGIC!" Penguins in six.
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