Montreal (8) vs. Boston (1): The Canadiens have talent, but there's just been too much dysfunction on the team. The deep Bruins will prove ornery in the right spots and be just too deep to handle. Goalie Tim Thomas wins his first-ever playoff round. Bruins in five.
New York (7) vs. Washington (2): The Rangers will show some grit, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist will turn away a mess of shots. That won't be enough to stop Alex Ovechkin and his merry band. Washington defenseman Mike Green should soar and the Caps could put up a six spot or two. Capitals in six.
Carolina (6) vs. New Jersey (3): The Devils wanted this matchup, and beating the Hurricanes in the season's last game ensured that they got it and avoided the Penguins. Surprise, surprise. Carolina is tougher than you think. Sorry Marty. Hurricanes in seven.
Philadelphia (5) vs. Pittsburgh (4): The best first-round series in either conference. The Flyers will win some games, but goalie Martin Biron will ultimately be had, and Sidney Crosby won't let the Penguins lose a Game 7. Penguins in seven.
Anaheim (8) vs. San Jose (1): Poor San Jose. All that great work in the regular season and the Sharks end up with this: a No. 8 seed with a Stanley Cup pedigree, and a defensive trio of Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin. In a long, tight series -- at least two games will go to OT -- the Presidents' Trophy-winners go down. Ducks in seven.
Columbus (7) vs. Detroit (2): Detroit scored 295 goals during the regular season. They won't get that many in the first round -- though it may seem like it. Under relentless pressure, Columbus's rookie goalie, Steve Mason, will finally crack. Red Wings in five.
St. Louis (6) vs. Vancouver (3): Vancouver's nasty. St. Louis is willful and rich with confidence. The Blues will not go quietly, and they'll get some key goals from unlikely sources. But Vancouver's experience and edge will win out. Canucks in six.
Calgary (5) vs. Chicago (4): Calgary will get its woeful power play rolling -- thank you, Mike Cammalleri -- and Jarome Iginla will take over a game as he does almost every spring, and before you know it, the Flames will be in control of this series. The Blackhawks, meantime, will file these games away as a learning experience for next year, when they'll surely be back. Flames in five.
Carolina (6) vs. Boston (1): Fresher off the first round, Boston will jump out early in this one and gutty Carolina won't quite be able to claw back. Bruins winger Milan Lucic will be physical, feed off of it, and score some big goals. Bruins in six.
Pittsburgh (4) vs. Washington (2): Another matchup for the marquee. Somehow I don't think Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Semin will be brunching together on off days. Ovechkin's goal celebrations may ratchet this series up, but Marc-Andre Fleury, outplaying whoever's in Washington's net, will bring it back under control. Penguins in six.
Anaheim (8) vs. Detroit (2): Rested and focused under coach Mike Babcock, Detroit will wear down the already taxed Ducks. Look for the Red Wings' dominance to truly show itself late in the series. Red Wings in six.
Calgary (5) vs. Vancouver (3): It's Luongo time. In a head-to-head with the Flames' terrific Miikka Kiprusoff, Vancouver's Roberto Luongo will truly assert himself among the league's elite and refuse to be beaten. The Canucks' Sedin twins, smelling silver, will also thrive. Canucks in six.
Pittsburgh (4) vs. Boston (1): The Penguins will set the tone with a little pinch of Orpik and a smash of Gill. By playing a bit tougher than usual early in the series, Pittsburgh will start to find open ice. Uh-oh. Penguins in five.
Vancouver (3) vs. Detroit (2): Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk will be beginning to close in on the Conn Smythe Trophy by now, and the Wings will ward off the Canucks' nettlesome pair of forwards, Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler. Once again, goalie Chris Osgood will find a way to do just enough for Detroit. Red Wings in six.
Pittsburgh vs. Detroit: Ah, the rematch. Pittsburgh will do Detroit one better this time, but only one better. Prepare for a truly fabulous edge-of-your-seat final, and prepare to once again see the Red Wings' depth and versatility conspire to bring the Stanley Cup to Detroit for the second year in a row. Red Wings in seven.
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