It took a little bit longer to figure out who would be playing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals due to the fact three of the four series went to seven games, and two of those into overtime. None the less the teams that made it out fought hard and long to make it here and those teams are The Washington Captials, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Washington, the east’s number one seed is coming out of a series where they beat the New York Rangers in five games, while the Lightning are coming out of a seven game series against the Pitsburgh Penguins. The fact that the Capitals have not played since April 23rd and will not be playing till the 29th plays into the rust or rest theory, does the long break benefit them with rest or will they be slow on their return. Washington does not blow teams out like they have in the past, they play a more mature and defensively committed game now. Just look at Ovechkins numbers through the regular season. However, with Alexander Ovechkin, Nikolas Backstrom, and Alexander Semin in the lineup they can score in bunches when they need to. Along with the offensive game they are anchored defensively by Michal Neuvirth in net. The Lightning are also strong in net with a seasoned Dwayne Roloson between the pipes, who is 6-0 in elimination games. The Lightning have offensive weapons as well in Martin St.Louis, Steven Stamkos, and Vincent Lecavalier. Look for the Capitals’ offensive powers to rip through the somewhat mediocre defense of the Lightning and for Neuvrith to bail the Capitals out of a tight spot or two. The Caps take the series in 5 games.
Both Boston and Philadephia are coming out of game seven overtime wins where they beat the Montreal Canadiens and the Buffalo Sabres. It was a year ago were the Flyers came back from being down 3-0 in a series against Boston, to eliminate the Bruins in seven games, there is no lack of a story line here. This will be a hard hitting series with Carcillo of the Flyers and Lucic of the Bruins sure to be throwing around their bodies every chance they get. The Flyer are lead by Daniel Briere who seems to be chalk full of playoff magic every season, scoring six goals in the first round on a very tough Ryan Miller. Anchored by a strong defensive core in Brayden Coburn and Chris Pronger, who is only getting healthier as the playoffs progress the Flyers are a big man team and very strong in front of the net. The only question mark presented for the Flyers is in net. They started three different goalies in the first round and became the first team to advance in the playoffs when doing so. However, it looks like Brian Boucher found his grove through the last game and a half against the Sabres, but look for Boston to test him early. Boston’s success in the series will depend on whether or not Tim Thomas’ flail around like a fish type of goaltending is spot on when they need it to be. Boston did not score once while on the power play in the first round that will definitely have to change if they want to have a shot at winning this series. The Flyers will get past the Bruins riding Danny Briere and his dirty Frenchman playoff stache. Flyers in 6.