So I ended the first round of my playoff pool going two for eight. Man, these playoffs! Thursday night saw the elimination of both the Ottawa Senators (RIP) and the Florida Panthers. Therefore, rounding out the rest of round-two in the Eastern conference are the favoured New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils.
Now, we’ve spoken of upsets before this season. Although the Rangers and the Devils were the favourites to win their respective series’, the other two first-round series’ in the East were magnificent underdog victories.
The Philadelphia Flyers took the Stanley Cup favourites out in six games – even starting the series with a 3-0 lead over Sidney Crospy and his precious Pittsburgh Penguins. It was one of the highest scoring series’ of all-time, which included Claude Giroux setting a franchise record for most points within one series. The Washington Capitals also managed to take the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Boston Bruins, to seven games – and win! This was probably the most shocking upset of the entire first-round.
The unpredictability of this post-season renders the following comments completely useless, but here is a look at how I see the next round unfolding in the East.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils
This seems like the no-brainer of round two. It may seem strange to say, considering the Devils finished only one point behind the Flyers in the regular season, but the Broadstreet bullies should be just that in this series and coast through New Jersey.
When you compare the performances of their last rounds, the Flyers took the heavy Cup favourites out in six games. The Devils struggled with a team that were division champs, but technically eight points below them. To boot, that struggle lasted seven games. The New Jersey Devils have significantly less time to rest before heading into Philadelphia to face a calm, rested, and confident Flyers team. That’s a scary thought.
If their is an advantage for New Jersey, you could say it’s goaltending. Although Philly won their first-round, it definitely wasn’t because of Ilya Bryzgalov. Martin Brodeur, on the other hand, did come up big on several occassions for the Devils against Florida. But the firepower that is the Flyers should still prove to be too much for him.
Philadelphia Flyers in six or less.
New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals
Now, as an Ottawa Senators fan, I’m rooting for Washington is this one. But there is more than that one reason. The Washington Capitals took the Boston Bruins, defending champs, seven games to beat them in overttime. Towards the end of the regular season, it looked like the Caps may not even make the playoffs, let alone move on to the next round. But here they are. Not that it gets any easier from here as they now go up against the Eastern conference leaders, the New York Rangers.
The Rangers didn’t look to impressive against the Senators, going seven games – struggling with their offence and even getting shut-out once. But, at least rest won’t be a factor – both teams will still be feeling the effects of the last round. One thing is clear though – Washington know that the offense supplied in round-one will not suffice with Henrik Lundqvist in net, and that’s what the Caps need to focus on. Seeing Lundqvist stopping a barrage of shots from Spezza, Michalek, Turris and the like, the Capitals have to put the pressure on early and keep it on.
With the right support coming from Dale Hunter and the rest of the Washington Bench, I believe the Washington Capitals could win another seven-game series here.