2012 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals Preview & Live Updates

(1) NEW YORK RANGERS

VS.

(8) OTTAWA SENATORS

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New York leads series 2-1

SCHEDULE:
Game 1: Ottawa 2 New York 4 FINAL
Game 2: Ottawa 3 New York 2 FINAL/1st OT
Game 3: New York 1 Ottawa 0 FINAL
Game 4: Wednesday, April 18 @ ScotiaBank Place 7:30 PM Eastern (CBC, CNBC)
*Game 5: Saturday, April 21 @ Madison Square Garden 7 PM Eastern (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
*Game 6: Monday, April 23 @ ScotiaBank Place TBA (TBA)
*Game 7: Thursday, April 26 @ Madison Square Garden TBA (TBA)

*- If necessary

SEASON SERIES:
Ottawa won season series 3-1-0

OFFENSIVE TEAM LEADERS:

New York (left), Ottawa (right)
G: Gaborik (41), Michalek (35)
A: Richards (41), Karlsson (59)
P: Gaborik (76), Spezza (84)
+/-: McDonagh (+26), Kuba (+26)

GOALTENDING MATCHUP:

New York:
Henrik Lundqvist: 39-18-5, 1.97 GAA, .930 SV%, 8 shutouts

Henrik Lundqvist’s fantastic season has been a big reason as to how the Rangers got to where they are now.
PHOTO CREDITS: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

Ottawa:

Craig Anderson: 33-22-6, 2.84 GAA, .914 SV%, 3 shutouts

ANALYSIS:
New York in 5 Ottawa has certainly come a long way, especially with most pegging them to finish the season towards the bottom of the standings.  The Rangers are easily the stronger team all around, and it all starts with arguably the best goaltender in the league: Henrik Lundqvist.  They also have four solid lines that coach John Tortorella can roll, and blueliners such as Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh, and Dan Girardi can also chip in offensively.  I think the Sens will take either game 3 or 4, but the Rangers will be too much for Craig Anderson & co. to handle.

The News of Sports:

The New York Rangers come into the playoffs with a 109-point regular season, tied for second in the entire league with the St. Louis Blues. They will face off against the Ottawa Senators, one of only two Canadian teams (The Vancouver Canucks are the other) in the playoffs this year. The Rangers have arguably the best goalie in the league, Henrik Lundqvist, who once again led the way for New York to reach the playoffs as the number one team in the Eastern Conference. If the Rangers are to advance, they’ll need more stellar goaltending from Lundqvist, as well as some offense from Marian Gaborik and off-season signing Brad Richards.

The Senators come in to this series as the relatively unknown. They had to fight to keep the 8th seed from the Buffalo Sabres, but have some aging yet still capable stars in Daniel Alfredsson and Sergei Gonchar, and younger stars like Jason Spezza at center. If the Senators are to win, they’ll need some great goaltending from Craig Anderson against the dangerously potent Rangers offense and they’ll need to get the puck past Lundqvist, and both are extremely difficult.

My pick: Rangers in 6 games

Jason Spezza leads the way for the Ottawa Senators. The question is, how much of a factor will he be against Henrik Lundqvist and co.?
PHOTO CREDITS: Robb Carr/Getty Images

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(2) BOSTON BRUINS

VS.

(7) WASHINGTON CAPITALS

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Boston leads series 2-1

SCHEDULE:
Game 1: Washington 0 Boston 1 FINAL/1st OT
Game 2: Washington 2 Boston 1 FINAL/2nd OT
Game 3: Boston 4 Washington 3 FINAL
Game 4: Thursday, April 19 @ Verizon Center 7:30 PM Eastern (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
*Game 5: Saturday, April 21 @ TD Garden 3 PM Eastern (NBC, CBC)
*Game 6: Sunday, April 22 @ Verizon Center TBA (TBA)
*Game 7: Wednesday, April 25 @ TD Garden TBA (TBA)

*- If necessary

SEASON SERIES:
Washington won season series 3-1-0

OFFENSIVE TEAM LEADERS:

Boston (left), Washington (right)
G: Seguin (29), Ovechkin (38)
A: Bergeron (42), Wideman (35)
P: Seguin (67), Ovechkin (65)
+/-: Bergeron (+36), Ward/Alzner (+12)

GOALTENDING MATCHUP:

Boston:
Tim Thomas: 35-19-1, 2.36 GAA, .920 SV, 5 shutouts

The reigning Conn Smythe winner will look to repeat his performance from last season’s Cup run for the Bruins. PHOTO CREDITS: Elsa/Getty Images

Washington:

Tomas Vokoun: 25-17-7, 2.51 GAA, .917 SV%, 4 shutouts
Michal Neuvirth: 13-13-5, 2.82 GAA, .903 SV%, 3 shutouts
Braden Holtby: 4-2-1, 2.49 GAA, .922 SV%, 1 shutout

ANALYSIS:
Boston in 5.  Let’s face it, this is not the same Washington team that we are all accustomed to seeing.  Yes, Nicklas Backstrom is back, but can he really be the difference maker?  The ‘Caps goaltending is a big question mark with their health issues, and they really lack the depth that the Bruins have.  We all saw what Tim Thomas did in the playoffs last season, and there’s no doubt he will be nothing but a brick wall once again.  The additions of Greg Zanon and Brian Rolston at the trade deadline strengthened what is already a solid lineup for the Bruins, as GM Peter Chiarelli made a statement to the rest of the league that the Bruins want to repeat as Cup champs again.  Ovechkin’s line will be shut down, and the Caps will be looking at an early round exit.

The News of Sports:

The defending champions Boston Bruins avoided the championship hangover and had some stellar play from their key players during the season, topping 100 points again this year. They come into their first round series against the ultimate underachievers, the Washington Capitals, as favorites, but they have to be weary of Alexander Ovechkin and Co. nonetheless. The Bruins will survive against the dangerous Capitals behind continued brilliance from wunderkind Tim Thomas and a very good offense led by Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, fan favorite Brad Marchand, and others. Of course, you can’t forget about the wall behind them in Zdeno Chara, who you can bet on smashing a couple of Capitals into the boards hard.

The Capitals, previously known as a regular season overachiever who never experienced true playoff success, struggled mightily during the regular season and only a last minute surge could keep them in the playoff race. They tied with the Senators with 92 regular season points, and superstar Alexander Ovechkin and Mike Green also struggled. However, there is definitely hope for the Caps. Ovechkin only could manage a measly 65 points in 2011/2012, a career low in the NHL, but was starting to heat up at just the right time. The goaltending is an issue, but Michal Neuvirth will have to keep his nerve if the Capitals will want to survive. Even then, it’s a tough task, and I don’t see this series going all that far.

My pick: Bruins in 5 games

Nicklas Backstrom returned to the lineup late in the season, but can even he help what has been an underachieving squad in the first round?
PHOTO CREDITS: Greg Fiume/Getty Images

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(3) FLORIDA PANTHERS

VS.

(6) NEW JERSEY DEVILS

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Series tied 1-1

SCHEDULE:
Game 1: New Jersey 3 Florida 2 FINAL
Game 2: New Jersey 2 Florida 4 FINAL
Game 3: Tuesday, April 17 @ Prudential Center 7 PM Eastern (NHL Network, TSN)
Game 4: Thursday, April 19 @ Prudential Center 7 PM Eastern (NHL Network, TSN)
*Game 5: Saturday, April 21 @ BankAtlantic Center 6:30 PM Eastern (NHL Network, TSN)
*Game 6: Tuesday, April 24 @ Prudential Center TBA (TBA)
*Game 7: Thursday, April 26 @ BankAtlantic Center TBA (TBA)

*- If necessary

SEASON SERIES:
Florida won season series 2-1-1

OFFENSIVE TEAM LEADERS:

Florida (left), New Jersey (right)
G: Flesichmann (27), Kovalchuk (37)
A: Campbell (49), Elias (52)
P: Fleischmann (61), Kovalchuk (83)
+/-: Garrison (+6), Salvador (+18)

GOALTENDING MATCHUP:

Florida:
Jose Theodore: 22-16-11, 2.46 GAA, .917 SV%, 3 shutouts
Scott Clemmensen: 14-6-6, 2.57 GAA, .913 SV%, 1 shutout

New Jersey:

Martin Brodeur: 31-21-4, 2.41 GAA, .908 SV%, 3 shutouts

A veteran of the playoffs, Martin Brodeur will look to the shine when it matters the most.
PHOTO CREDITS: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

ANALYSIS:
New Jersey in 5.  Slightly biased being a ‘Canes fan, but Florida is a bit overrated.  New Jersey is far and away the better team, and Florida’s going to have a rough time against one of the stingiest defensive teams in the East. Not to take anything away from the Devils’ offense as well, which includes the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and Patrik Elias.  Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen are very solid goaltenders, but they are no Martin Brodeur, and the D in front of them will find it hard to contain the Devils snipers.

The News of Sports:

Ageless wonder Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils face off against the surprising #3 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Florida Panthers. The question on Devils fans’ minds is whether Brodeur, who’s been slightly shaky during the regular season, will hold up. However, he has a lot of good players in front of him, like superstars Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, and of course Ilya Kovalchuk, coming off a great rebound season in New Jersey after an awful first year. The Devils will upset the Panthers if they can get past former Capitals goalie Jose Theodore and the Panthers D, but also if Brodeur plays well, which is usually a guarantee, but this year, it hasn’t been. Perhaps he’s finally realizing his age.

The Panthers are a bit of a surprise to be the #3 seed after finishing dead last with 72 points last year. They increased that points total by 24 this year, and their rebuilding certainly paid off. They have former Washington outcast Jose Theodore in net, and he’s been solid, with a career high save percentage. However, he is a bit weak, but the Panthers success on defense this year mainly is thanks to former Blackhawk Brian Campbell and others. Their offense isn’t bad either, with Campbell’s fellow Stanley Cup champion (with the Blackhawks) Kris Versteeg at Right Wing, Scottie Upshall, Tomas Kopecky, Tomas Fleischmann, John Madden, and others. Wow, there are a ton of former Blackhawks on this team, and the ones I noticed right away were Campbell, Kopecky, Versteeg, and Madden. The Panthers will win if their defense plays well and they get the puck past Brodeur.

My pick: Panthers in 6 games

Tomas Fleischmann surprised many in his first season as a Panther, but will he and his teammates be able to continue their Cinderella season?
PHOTO CREDITS: Al Bello/Getty Images

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(4) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

VS.

(5) PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Philadelphia leads series 3-0

SCHEDULE:
Game 1: Philadelphia 4 Pittsburgh 3  FINAL/1st OT
Game 2: Philadelphia 8 Pittsburgh 5 FINAL
Game 3: Pittsburgh 4 Philadelphia 8 FINAL
Game 4: Wednesday, April 18 @ Wells Fargo Center 7:30 PM Eastern (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
*Game 5: Friday, April 20 @ Consol Energy Center 7:30 PM Eastern (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
*Game 6: Sunday, April 22 @ Wells Fargo Center TBA (TBA)
*Game 7: Tuesday, April 24 @ Consol Energy Center TBA (TBA)

*- If necessary

SEASON SERIES:
Philadelphia won season series 4-2-0

OFFENSIVE TEAM LEADERS:

Pittsburgh (left), Philadelphia (right)
G: Malkin (50), Hartnell (37)
A: Malkin (59), Giroux (65)
P: Malkin (109), Giroux (93)
+/-: Letang (+21), Hartnell (+19)

GOALTENDING MATCHUP:

Pittsburgh:
Marc-Andre Fleury: 42-17-4, 2.36 GAA, .913 SV%, 3 shutouts

Philadelphia:

Ilya Bryzgalov: 33-16-7, 2.48 GAA, .909 SV%, 6 shutouts

Ilya Bryzgalov will look to silence his critics, after sputtering in his last two playoff appearances.
PHOTO CREDITS: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

ANALYSIS:
Pittsburgh in 7.  Quite possibly the most anticipated series in the first round, and for good reason.  This series will be full of bad blood, and it would not surprise me one bit if all seven games were close contests. However, not having Chris Pronger, who has been out for most of the season, will truly hurt the Flyers, and they will have a hard time dealing with the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Staal, and Neal.  Even if you shut them down, you still have to deal with the likes of Steve Sullivan and Pascal Dupuis, both who are anything but pushovers.  Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how Ilya Bryzgalov performs in the playoffs, after his two recent poor performances with the Coyotes.

The News of Sports:

 

My pick: Panthers in 6 games

It’s the most awaited first round matchup of the first round, and possibly of the entire playoffs, especially by the fans of these two teams and anyone in the state of Pennsylvania. The rivalry that is something more comes to the first round. If the Flyers are going to win, they’ll have to limit Sid The Kid and Evgeni Malkin, as well as scoring against Marc-Andre Fleury, not an easy task, especially come playoff time. Also, Ilya Bryzgalov will be hungry to win a playoff series after repeatedly failing with the Coyotes.

The Penguins are thrilled to have Sidney Crosby back from concussion like symptoms after missing most of the regular season. In his absence, Evgeni Malkin played like a NHL MVP, amassing 109 points, leading the league. If the Penguins are going to win, they’ll need solid netminding from Bryzgalov and find a way to score against Penguins, and Fleury’s always at his best in the playoffs.

My pick: Penguins in 7 games

Should Crosby and Malkin go dry, you can bet that this man will step up his game.
PHOTO CREDITS: Justin K. Aller

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4 Responses to 2012 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals Preview & Live Updates

  1. I really can’t see the Penguins coming back against the Flyers. For that to happen, they need to step it up on defense. 6.7 goals per game is unacceptable.

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