A quick glance the at the Eastern Conference matchups:
(1) Washington (54-15-13, 121 points) vs. (8) Montreal (39-33-10, 88 points)
The skinny: Thirty-three points separated the teams, but three of the regular-season meetings went to overtime. The Capitals and Canadiens have never met in the playoffs. Former Canadiens netminder Jose Theodore has won only one playoff series since he departed from Montreal following the 2003-04 season. The Habs will have to find a way to slow down sniper Alex Ovechkin, who registered his third 50-goal season in his last four years.
Season series — Tied at two wins apiece.
- Jeff Marek — Washington in 5.
- Scott Morrison — Washington in 5.
- Tim Wharnsby — Washington in 4.
(2) New Jersey (48-27-7, 103 points) vs. (7) Philadelphia (41-35-6, 88 points)
The skinny: The Devils are the San Jose Sharks of the East. They haven't advanced past the first round in the past two years and have won only two series since the lockout. After missing the playoffs in his first two seasons in Hartford, Chris Pronger will play in his 14th consecutive post-season.
Season series — Philadelphia 5-1-0
- Jeff Marek — Philadelphia in 7.
- Scott Morrison — New Jersey in 5.
- Tim Wharnsby — New Jersey in 4.
(3) Buffalo (45-27-10, 100 points) vs. (6) Boston (39-30-13, 91 points)
The skinny: This is the eighth playoff meeting between the division rivals, but first since 1999. Both teams have key injuries. The Bruins have been without Marc Savard (concussion), while the Sabres likely will miss Drew Stafford (concussion) for the opener. In addition, Buffalo's Tim Connolly (foot) and Jochen Hecht (finger) are also nursing injuries.
Season series — Boston 4-2-0
- Jeff Marek — Boston in 6.
- Scott Morrison — Buffalo in 6.
- Tim Wharnsby — Buffalo in 5.
(4) Pittsburgh (47-28-7, 101 points) vs. (5) Ottawa (44-32-6, 94 points)
The skinny: The two teams meet for the third time in four playoffs. The Senators' success lies in how well goaltender Brian Elliott plays in his first foray into the Stanley Cup playoffs and how well they can deal with the Penguins' strength down the middle with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Should the Penguins get by Ottawa, there remains the possibility of a Crosby-Ovechkin clash for the second straight post-season.
Season series — Tied at 2-2-0
- Jeff Marek — Pittsburgh in 6.
- Scott Morrison — Pittsburgh in 6.
- Tim Wharnsby — Pittsburgh in 7.