Well it’s final; here are the matchups:
In the East:
Penguins vs Islanders
I’m going with the Penguins in this series. They have been a dominant team this season, and it’s been awhile since the Islanders have made the post-season. They have a great core, even without Crosby, with Malkin, Iginla, Morrow, Letang, Orpik, Martin, and Neal. Jussi Jokinen is also a key player going into the playoffs, an all-around player who can play all three forward positions and is one of the best face-off men in the league. He is also a great scorer and playmaker. They won’t need Crosby in the first round, but when he comes back, they will be even harder to play against. The only teams in the East that can challenge them I think are the Capitals and the Rangers.
Canadiens vs Senators
I see the Sens winning this series. They have been hot lately, while the Canadiens have had trouble winning lately. There really isn’t much else to say for this series.
Capitals vs Rangers
I’m seeing the Capitals winning this series. They have been almost unbeatable of late. Ovechkin has been hot, and so has the rest of the core. The Caps have had the ability to make comebacks in the last half of the season which is an important thing to have going into the post-season. I believe they can contend for the Cup this year.
Bruins vs Maple Leafs
I’m picking Boston in this series. The Maple Leafs have not been to the playoffs in eight years, and they are a young team. Most of the players have not had a taste of playoff hockey in their careers yet. The Bruins are one of those teams who consistently make the post-season, and are full of veterans.
In the West:
Blackhawks vs Wild
Blackhawks are going to win, but I think it will be a hard fought battle. They aren’t as good as they are on paper. They had that awesome stretch at the beginning, but in the second half, they went 15-7-2, which is very good, but, it is not the performance of an unstoppable team.
Ducks vs Red Wings
I pick the Ducks in this series. The Red Wings just barely made the playoffs, and they have a hard time scoring.
Canucks vs Sharks
I’m picking the Sharks in this one. Not much else to say.
Blues vs Kings
I think the Kings will defeat the Blues. They swept the season series, swept them in the playoffs last year, and have been very strong on the road, a very important ability to have in the playoffs.