(1)Montreal Canadiens v. (8)Boston Bruins
--Les Habs dominated Boston in their season series. Montreal, somewhat quietly, scored the most goals in the NHL this season. We look for Boston to try to clamp down and win 2-1 games, with Montreal trying to be more aggressive and take advantage of their awesome powerplay.
Key injuries: MTL: Saku Koivu (broken foot); BOS: Marc Savard (broken bone in back)
TST Official Prediction: Canadiens in 5!
(2)Pittsburgh Penguins v. (7)Ottawa Senators
--Re-match. Ottawa seems to be on the ropes and very unstable and to make matters worse, their captain and two of their best checking forwards (Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly) are unavailable.
Key injuries: PITT: None; OTT: Daniel Alfredsson (knee), Fisher (knee), Kelly (broken leg)
TST Official Prediction: Penguins in 5!
(3)Washington Capitals v. (6)Philadelphia Flyers
--Washington is the cinderella story of the NHL, coming from worst to first. They have been playing great hockey but they have played 7 straight non-playoff teams. Washington's core of players (Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Green) have not played in the NHL playoffs. We think they're in for a rude awakening; much like Pittsburgh got last season. Philly is aggressive but will need to stay out of the box and get better goaltending then they've gotten to have a chance.
Key injuries: WSH: Michael Nylander (shoulder), Chris Clark (groin), Shaone Morrison (likely shoulder); PHI: Daniel Briere (knee), Simon Gagne (concussion)
TST Official Prediction: Flyers in 6!
(The day you see a Cryers logo on this blog will be the day this editor is spinning in a grave)
(4)New Jersey Devils v. (5)New York Rangers
--This might be the most hard fought, "hand to hand combat" type series of them all. Both clubs are scrappy, wear-you-out type teams built for long, grinding series. We give the skill forward and overall defensemen edge to NYR but you'd have to give the goalie advantage to NJD. Lundqvist is a great goalie but Brodeur is one of the best of all times.
Key injuries: NJD: none, ; NYR: Jaromir Jagr (disinterest)
TST Official Prediction: Rangers in 7!
(1)Detroit Red Wings v. (8)Nashville Predators
--Detroit's stigma of a great regular season (they won the President's Trophy again this year) followed by an untimely playoff exit will continue this year. That's what happens when you rely on a goalie so old and plagued by injuries. But it won't happen in the first round.
Key injuries: DET: Tomas Kopecky (knee), Brad Stuart (finger); NSH: Martin Gelinas (knee), Steve Sullivan (back)
TST Official Prediction: Wings bust out the brooms!
(2)San Jose Sharks v. (7)Calgary Flames
--The Flames are a tough playoff team; they make a name for themselves grabbing a low seed and then buckling down defensively and seeing if Iginla can pull them past a favorite. But we're not going against San Jose; they may have been a letdown in year's past, but the addition of Brian Campbell makes them a really complete and scary team. They'll need better play/production out of Patrick Marleau but that might be a "next round" problem.
Key injuries: CGY: Craig Conroy (upper-body); SJS: none
TST Official Prediction: Sharks in 6!
(3)Minnesota Wild v. (6)Colorado Avalanche
--This seems to be one of the prime upset picks already, as Colorado has more recognizable names (Sakic, Forsberg, et al.) and Minnesota plays a much more non-descript (but effective) brand of hockey. The NHL playoffs are about the best team, and we like Minnesota in this one.
Key injuries: MINN: Kurtis Foster (broken leg), COL: Forsberg (everything), Marek Svatos (knee)
TST Official Prediction: Wild in 6!
(4)Anaheim Ducks v. (5)Dallas Stars
--Doesn't it seem like Dallas draws a terrible matchup every year? This is no different. The Thug Ducks are going to run wild on the Stars; they're more physical, skilled and better in every category. Shame for Dallas, they're probably the best team that we've got packing it in this early.
Key injuries: ANA: Corey Perry (cut leg); DAL: Sergei Zubov (foot)
TST Official Prediction: Ducks in 5!
Holy crap, did we really just pick every higher side in the West to hold serve? Yes, yes we did. And really, what would be better than a potential Detroit/Anaheim 2nd round matchup? Not too much.