WESTERN CONFERENCE

Los Angeles Kings #8 versus Vancouver Canucks #1

     This series could really go either way, and is going to be determined by how three factors play out.  The first being, will Jonathan Quick continue to play at his regular season level.  Will Roberto Luongo play at a top notch level or will Cory Scheinder have to step in, and take his place.  The third factor is probably the most important.  I have no question that Los Angeles will play strong defense, but will they be able to score?  If they can, and Jonathan Quick can play at a high level the Kings have a chance.  If the Canucks come out storming in this series, the experience, and depth of the Canucks will  lead them into the second round.  Vancouver in 5

San Jose Sharks #7 versus St. Louis Blues #2

     San Jose has had to play a little different than in years past.  Usually the Sharks coast to a division championship, and playoff birth, but not this year.  The Sharks had to fight hard until the last week of the season.  Maybe that will actually be the difference.  The Sharks are a solid, and deep hockey team that does not have the expectations of years past.  The St. Louis Blues are a low scoring team that wins on defense and goaltending.  They surprised the hockey world with a second place finish in the western conference.  I worry that the inexperience will hurt the Blues.  It  just seems like success in the regular season does not equal success in the playoffs.  The lack of scoring will be the Blues stumbling block.  The lack of offensive depth does not make this something that they can overcome quickly.  San Jose in 6

Chicago Blackhawks #6 versus Phoenix Coyotes #3

    The Coyotes are back in the playoffs for a third straight season, and after two early exits they are ready to give it a third try.  The outstanding play of Mike Smith earned them a division championship, and home ice in the first round.  They face the inconsistent Chicago Blackhawks.  With Jonathan Toews questionable for the playoffs the Blackhawks will have to dig deep, and play solid hockey to get past the Coyotes.  The Blackhawks score in bunches, but also struggle to keep the puck out of their net.  The play of goaltender Crawford will be critical.  He must play at a higher level than he did in the regular season.   With a goals against of 2.83, and a regular season save percentage of .902, Crawford must step up to win this series.  The one factor that should really help the Blackhawks is experience.  The Hawks won the Stanley Cup just two years ago, and experience will really pay off in the post season.  Chicago in 6

Detroit Red Wings #5 versus Nashville Predators #4

     When I look at this series I see two teams that are so evenly matched.  It is going to be a long great series.  Detroit has experience, and a solid offensive core.  With Howard in net, and Lidstrom on defense they should not have any problems defense either.  Nashville also has very few weaknesses.  Rinne is a unbelievable goaltender, and has the capability of carrying this team.  The Red Wings and Predators are both capable of winning this series, but I think experience is the only different aspect in this series.  Detroit in 7

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Ottawa Senators #8 versus New York Rangers #1

     This will be the quickest series in the east.  It is a surprise that the Senators have made it to this point.  The Senators have played well as a team, but this team does not have the depth to get past the New York Rangers.  The Rangers are more of a blue collar team this year.  The goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist has been amazing again this season.   If the Rangers continue their stingy defense, and keep scoring by committee the Rangers should be in good shape.  New York in 5

Washington Capitals #7 versus Boston Bruins #2

     The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup last season, and everyone knows how hard it is to repeat.  The Capitals have struggled a great deal this season.   They are not the Capitals of years past.  Since Hunter has taken over as coach the focus has changed from offense to defense.  This match-up should be very interesting with the Capitals winning the regular season battle 3-1.  The two biggest question marks going into this series is how will Capitals goalie Holtby hold up under the pressure of the playoffs, and will the Bruins have the scoring depth to get through a seven game series.  The inconsistency of the Capitals is likely to catch up to them in the post season.  Boston in 6

New Jersey Devils #6 versus Florida Panthers #3

     The New Jersey Devils look like the odds on favorite in this series, but they have some question marks that will play a factor in their success.  The goaltending of Martin Brodeur has not been what it was in the past, and it is questionable how he will hold up in the playoffs.  The defensive core is also very young, and inexperienced.  This also does not help out the goaltending inconsistency.  The Devils can score, and I think that Zach Parise will have an amazing series.  The Panthers are kind of the unknown team.  With a completely changed roster from years past the Panthers are kind of the sleeper of the playoffs.  Florida in 7

Philadelphia Flyers #5 versus Pittsburgh Penguins #4

     This is the most talked about series of the playoffs this year.  It is going to be a grueling battle, that is going to be unreal.  The Flyers and Penguins have both had up and down seasons.  There are a few factors that will determine the outcome of this series.  The Flyers must abuse the Penguins physically, and Bryzgalov must take charge in the net.  The Flyers can score, but defense is their style.  They have to jump out quick, and control the game.  The Penguins success is going to be determined by Malkin’s scoring pace, and if he can continue his unbelievable pace.  The most important factor is if Sidney Crosby can survive the physical play the Flyers will be attacking him with.  Crosby was limited to just 22 regular season games because of continued concussion problems.  It is going to be a classic series.  Philadelphia in 7

Brad Burud the owner/editor of the Inside Edge Hockey News. I am a huge fan of hockey, from youth hockey, to junior hockey, and of course professional hockey. I have played, coached, worked as statistician, and watched hockey all of my life. Hockey is not just a game, it is a lifestyle and family. The game of hockey is great! It can bring you nights of great enjoyment. It also brings nights where you feel like your team will never win. I am proud to be a journalist for the greatest game in the world. I have a degree in Business Administration, Psychology from Minot State University. I also have a Hockey General Manager and Scouting, and Sports Communications/Journalism degree from Sports Management Worldwide. I am also a member of the Sports Executives Association. Most of all I am a fan. Hockey is a huge part of my life and my families life.

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