Much like the West, I'll be taking on the East. For some reason, I think that the East will be a little harder to choose, since there is a chance for many upsets in the first two rounds, which could lead to the Finals being a little out of whack. Of course, you can get that in the West, but it's a little less likely. Once again, your results may vary.
(1) Ottawa Senators vs (8) Tampa Bay Lightning : Ottawa wins in six games
Though you can never count out the champs, the Senators up and down have a better roster output from their guys. The top trio of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, and Jason Spezza has trumped that of Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, and Brad Richards. With both goaltenders being suspect, it should be down to who can score more, and with that-- I have to go with the Sens.
(2) Carolina Hurricanes vs (7) Montreal Canadiens: Montreal wins in six games
I know it's a bold choice, but the way the Habs have been playing, they look like the same team that took out the 2nd seeded Bruins in '04 coming back from down 3 games to 1. If Alexei Kovalev, Saku Koivu, and Michael Ryder can come out firing, they should be able to go far. That's not to go against the experience of Mark Recchi and Doug Weight with the brilliance of Eric Staal, but I like the way the Habs look with Cristobal Huet in net, as opposed to Martin Gerber in Carolina's net.
(3) New Jersey Devils vs (6) New York Rangers: New Jersey wins in six games
The Rangers have mucho fire power with Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, and Michael Nylander, but the Devils have an 11-game winning streak coming into the playoffs, as well as Martin Brodeur. Brodeur has the most experience of any goalie in the NHL Playoffs this year and that experience, combined with that of Scott Gomez, Brian Rafalski, and Jamie Langenbrunner, should help the Devils take themselves a long way. The Devils are also my pick to take the East.
(4) Buffalo Sabres vs (5) Phildelphia Flyers: Buffalo wins in six games
Though it's hard to go against the play of Peter Forsberg and Simon Gagne, the Flyers goaltending hasn't been as good as usual. Robert Esche and Antero Niittymaki have shown their cracks, while Ryan Miller and Martin Biron have improved from their late-season slump. Add that to Tim Connolly, Chris Drury, and Daniel Briere heating up down the stretch, it could be a long, high scoring series, going to the Sabres in the end.
I know, I'm using six games a lot, but I like to give them the benefit of the doubt. With the new rules, any team can take control of the game at any time. Plus, the home crowd can sway a game if the energy is just right in the rink.
It should be a great playoff for sure. Of course, anything is better than having nothing last April/May/June, though the World Championship kind of help the Canadian fans along they way. So, sit back, enjoy, and make sure you listen into the Show tonight and throughout the playoffs to get our takes in a 2-hour form.
Also, if you're a fan of playoff beards, check out PlayoffBeard.com, where Cap'n Bosh will take you through those who have fantastic beards and those who need some lessons or hormones to help their progress along.