Looking to the East
Hockey Night in Canada's Harry Neale gives his take on the Eastern Conference's first round matchups.
52-21-8-1, 113 pts VS (8) NY Islanders 35-24-11-2, 83 pts
I'm not sure the Islanders have the goaltending it takes, but they do have a strong defence corps. It think Ottawa will win with maybe a little more trouble than you might think.
Prediction: Ottawa wins series in six games
(2) New Jersey 46-20-10-6, 108 pts VS (7) Boston 36-34-11-2, 87 pts
New Jersey is going to beat Boston. The Bruins have trouble in goal and I don't like their defence corps as a group. On the positive side they are getting (Sergei) Samsonov back, who will give them a little offence and they could use that. But New Jersey will stifle them.
Prediction: New Jersey wins series in five games
(3) Tampa Bay 36-25-16-5, 93 pts VS (6) Washington 39-29-8-6, 92 pts
This is a tough one. Tampa has been the better team recently, but Washington's got (Peter) Bondra and (Jaromir) Jagr and if they ever decide it's important to play I don't know if Tampa can handle them.
I know Tampa is the Cinderella team of the Eastern Conference, but think Washington is going to beat them in a long series.
Prediction: Washington wins series in seven games
(4) Philadelphia 45-20-13-4, 107 pts VS (5) Toronto 44-28-7-3, 98 pts
This is a real coin toss. You might be a little more enthused about Toronto's chances if they had all their injured players back.
The Leafs may get a lot of players back during the run of the series, but a lot of them haven't played often lately and the playoffs are not an easy time to start playing again. With some hesitancy, I'm picking the Flyers over the Leafs
Philadelphia wins series in seven games