Boston Bruins (1) vs Montreal Canadiens (8)
Ahhh yes, nothing like an old Adams division rivalry to get it started. It won't have Ray Bourque or Patrick Roy, but that shouldn't make it any less exciting. These two teams met in the first round of the 2002 playoffs with the Bruins owning the number one seed and the Habs knocked them off in 6 games. I hope Habs fans got their fill back then because history isn't going to repeat itself. Montreal's goaltending is shaky at best with Carey Price and they will be without the services of Mathieu Schneider and Andrei Markov. The Bruins beat them 5 out of 6 times in the regular season and I don't see this ending any differently. B's in 5.
Washington Capitals (2) vs New York Rangers (7)
Last season, the Caps were knocked out of the playoffs because they simply didn't show any guts. The Flyers pushed them around, did whatever they wanted to Cristobel Huet and lost out in 7 games. This year, they better show some balls because they have Sean Avery and the New York Rangers to deal with. The Capitals have infinitely more talent than the Rangers, but if they don't show up looking to play "playoff hockey", they'll get upset again. Having said that, I think the Caps will bombard Lundqvist with shots and knock out the Rangers in 5, maybe 6.
New Jersey Devils (3) vs Carolina Hurricanes (6)
Here's an interesting matchup between two teams going in opposite directions. The Devils looked like they were going to grab the top seed, then fell apart at the end. The Canes on the other hand have been streaking late in the season and grabbed the 6 seed. Of course, none of that matters now. Its playoff hockey where everything changes. The Devils have the depth, the scoring, the defense and the fresh goaltender in Martin Brodeur to make a big postseason run. Devils in 5 games.
Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs Philadelphia Flyers(5)
Congratulations Penguins! You worked really hard to get that home ice and will now get to face... the Philadelphia Flyers. Yay. This is like in the Price is Right where you pass on the good showcase in hopes of getting something better, but you get a fridge and a dining room set. You could have gotten something better if you had stayed put, but now you're getting something lousy. Sure, the Pens will beat the Flyers, there's no doubt in my mind about that, but its not going to be a quick 5 game series like it was last year. Its going to be a rough and tumble six or seven game series that will leave the Pens tired and beat up going into the second round. Not the kind of first round opponent you want to play when you're hoping to go deep into the playoffs. Penguins in 7.