1) Boston vs 8) Montreal
2) Washington vs 7) New York
3) New Jersey vs 6) Carolina
4) Pittsburgh vs 5) Philadelphia
1) San Jose vs 8) Anaheim
2) Detroit vs 7) Columbus
3) Vancouver vs 6) St. Louis
4) Chicago vs 5) Calgary
My picks for first round:
Boston in 7 - I know Montreal has sucked, but I think this will be a tough series given the history. I can see Montreal standing up for this matchup, even if Boston ultimately prevails.
Washington in 5 - Expecting Washington to go out in the 2nd round due to goaltending, but too much firepower for the Caps and too little for the Rags.
New Jersey in 6 - I think this one comes down to a mental battle. I see the Devils as the better team on paper (barely), but depends which team is more hungry. Either way, have to go for the team I have tattoo'd on my back
Pittsburgh in 6 - Philly's goaltending sucks too much to deal with Crosby and Malkin, especially after the trade deadline acquisitions.
San Jose in 5 - San Jose will continue to dominate as the playoffs start.
Detroit in 5 - Detroit will too.
Vancouver in 6 - I can see St. Louis stealing a game in OT and letting their goaltending steal another, but ultimately Vancouver is too good.
Calgary in 6 - Chicago is too young and inexperienced (reminds me of the first year the Pens went to the playoffs with Crosby), I see the leadership of Iginla and the goaltending of Kipper overwhelming them.
1) Boston vs 4) Pittsburgh - Boston in 6 - Boston is just too good to not make it to the conference finals, even if I think their first round will be long and hard.
2) Washington vs 3) New Jersey - New Jersey in 6 - I think Brodeur robs the Caps offense more than a few times if he is back to full form at this point, maybe making use of our checking line a little to counter them as well, and our top line (and to lesser extent our second line) overwhelm their goaltender.
1) San Jose vs 5) Calgary - San Jose in 5 - Anything Calgary can do, San Jose can do three times better.
2) Detroit vs 3) Vancouver - Detroit in 7 - I see Luongo frustrating the Wings like hell, but ultimately they prevail.
1) Boston vs 3) New Jersey - New Jersey in 7 - I don't know how, I just have faith.
1) San Jose vs 2) Detroit - San Jose in 7 - This series is a total toss up for me. To be honest I think Detroit could win too, I see it going 7 and being a pick 'em between two elite teams.
1) San Jose vs 3) New Jersey - New Jersey in 7 - I hope I think no matter the matchup in the finals, it will be at least 6 games and spectacular. The East has the firepower to compete against the West this year unlike last year, when we all knew Detroit would roll over the Pens.
Conn Smythe - Brodeur, finally winning it with a strong playoff showing who steals at least 4-5 games for the Devils over the course of the playoffs.