#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 Montreal Canadiens
I want to be very clear – I’m not picking the Canadiens because I’m a fan. I’m picking the Canadiens because history tells us that barring very few exceptions, Montreal beats Boston in the playoffs. It’s that simple. I don’t care how good Tim Thomas is or how badly the B’s beat the Habs in their last game. Carey Price is just as good, and we’ll recall, the Habs gave the Bruins plenty of trouble this year.
But all of that means nothing. I’m basing this choice on history. It’s like Red Sox-Yankees… once in the bluest of blue moons, the Sox win – but we know how the rest of that story goes.
Not only will history repeat itself, but PK Subban and Price are going to make huge statements in this series. Jacques Martin will disappear when it counts and Kirk Muller will start running the show, which will allow Subban the freedom to play the high-risk-high-reward hockey he’s capable of and will be a huge difference-maker. Price will finally, once and for all, prove he’s a big-time playoff goalie and simply shut the Bruins down.
Just days’ after the Bruins’ first-round evaluation, Mark Recchi will be seen at a golf course accusing the bird he hit with an errant drive of faking a broken wing.
Habs in 7 & Subban scores the series winner
#1 Washington Capitals vs #8 New York Rangers
As long as Alexander Ovechkin is wearing the captains’ C in Washington, I will never choose the Caps to win anything. Bruce Boudreau seems to have coached his way out of getting fired – for now – but making a guy like Ovechkin captain will always come back to bite a coach in the ass. The classic example is the Flyers never winning a Stanley Cup with Eric Lindros as captain, not to mention Team Canada’s performance at the Nagano Olympics with Lindros wearing the C.
On the other side of the coin, the Rangers might have been struggling lately, but they have one of the best goalies in hockey in Henrik Lundqvist and you can’t help but think coach John Tortorella will find a way to get his boys to win a round against a team as vapid as the Caps.
Rangers in 5 & Boudreau falls on his sword
#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs Buffalo Sabres
Much as it pains a Montrealer to say, Philly is simply too deep and talented not to go at least two rounds into the playoffs. The question will always boil down to the Flyers’ goaltending, but if they can get anything close to the performances they got out of Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher, they’ll be able to get past Buffalo. Besides, speaking of goaltending, it’s worth having the Flyers advance if only to get the chance to hear Jay Onrait say “Bobrovsky” for another week or so.
For Buffalo to win, somehow Ryan Miller’s going to need to be healthy enough to steal a series. Seems doubtful.
Flyers in 6
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Tampa Bay Lightning
If Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were in the lineup and healthy, it would be another story. But even with having one of the two or three best coaches in the NHL in Dan Bylsma and a fairly deep lineup that’s kept the Pens in the hunt, they simply won’t be able to overcome losing two of the game’s top players.
On the other hand, Guy Boucher (who should be behind the Canadiens bench instead of Jacques Martin – but that’s for another post) has led the Lightning to an incredible turnaround season after last year’s 12th-place debacle and his team is poised for a playoff win.
Lightning in 5