Eastern Conference

1 - Washington Capitals
8 - Montreal Canadiens

It would be hard to fathom anything but a Capitals onslaught and expecting anything less may be illogical. Alex Ovechkin had another solid campaign, despite not winning either the Art Ross or Rocket Richard trophies and is still a force. Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom both had breakthrough season for the 'Caps and Mike Knuble was a surprising goal scorer playing on the teams top line. Ovechkin's 50 goals and Semin's 40 goal mark account should be enough on it's own to make quick work of the Canadiens, but through in roleplayers like Eric Fehr and Eric Belanger who had a lot of success as bottom six forwards this year and advancing may be a dream for 'Habs fans. In order for Montreal to have any success, standout goalie Jaroslav Halak will have stand on his head and be the difference. The only real weakness on Washington's end may be the strength on the Montreal side, goaltending. Jose Theodore has been named the teams starter and regardless of public opinion, should be enough of a difference to make short work of his old team.

Washington in 5 Games

2 - New Jersey Devils
7 - Philadelphia Flyers

The broken record that has played consistently in Philadelphia for years has been the lack of elite goaltending in the Flyers net. Philadelphia has been decimated this season by injuries, particularly in goal where seven different net minders have attempted to hold down the fort. Brian Boucher will start the playoffs for Philadelphia and while he may hold the NHL record for consecutive shutouts in consecutive games (five in a row to be exact), this is definately not a situation where you expect him to pull off a miracle. On the other end of the rink is arguably the best goal tender of his generation in Martin Brodeur. Brodeur had another strong season for New Jersey, and even though he was yanked in favour of Roberto Luongo during Team Canada's Gold Medal run in February, he is still more than capable of having a strong second season. Not to mention another strong year by team star Zach Parise, a comeback season by Patrick Elias, and the acquistion of elite sniper Illya Kovalchuk and much like 'Caps/'Habs series, this may be a short series.

New Jersey in 5 games

3 - Buffalo Sabres
6 - Boston Bruins

Very few teams this season have been hurt as much by injuries as the Boston Bruins and it's a true testament to this team that they are in the playoffs this season. One of the biggest surprises this year for Boston has been the play of former backup goalie Tuuku Rask, who in turn replaced former starter (and reigning Vezina trophy winner) Tim Thomas. Rask has enjoyed a tremendous season and is one of the main reasons they finished as high as they did at seasons end. Bostons real strength this year has been their strong defensive play, but have had tremendous difficulty scoring goals. Injuries have all but made it worse with Milan Lucic being injured throughout the year and perrenial set-up man Marc Savard out for the seasons, as well as Phil Kessel being dealt in the off season. The goal scoring issue will be a major problem in this series as Ryan Miller suits up for the Buffalo Sabres. Miller enjoyed a tremendous year for Buffalo, being at or near the top in every statistical category. Rookie defenceman Tyler Myers has enjoyed an excellent year for Buffalo and been a major surprise around the league with his offensive potential. Buffalo has no shortage when it comes to roleplayers on their team, as even many of their top offensive players fit the "lunch pail" mentality that is needed in the post-season. Watch for Derek Roy and Jason Pommenville to have a dominate series.

Buffalo in 4 games

4 - Pittsburgh Penguins
5 - Ottawa Senators

As far as the Eastern Conference goes, this should easily be the most competitive series. The reigning Stanley Cup Champions versus one of the streakiest teams in the NHL this season. With Pittsburgh, the usual suspects are the keys their success. Sidney Crosby is entering the playoffs after having one of his best seasons to date (which is scary to think). Crosby ended the season tied for the goal scoring lead with Tampa Bays Steven Stamkos to earn his first Rocket Richard trophy with 51 goals. Evgeni Malkin, while injured much of the year still had a productive year for Pittsburgh, and third line center Jordan Stall had another solid campaign with another 20+ goal season. No team in the NHL is as deep at center as Pittsburgh is with the afformentioned names listed here. As well, goal tender Marc-Andre Fleury has been as consistent as anyone at his position for the past three years, including a Stanley Cup Championship last June. Ottawa comes into this post season without one of their biggest off-season acquisitions in Alex Kovalev. The egnimatic and often controversial winger will miss the playoffs due to injury, eliminating an offensive weapon for the aresenal. Team Captain Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza both continue to show unique chemistry with one another and are both coming off of excellent offensive seasons for Ottawa. Gritty winger Mike Fisher had a breakthrough season with the team and will be relied upon to help carry the team. The big question mark for Ottawa is young goal tender Brian Elliot. Elliot had a tremendous year for Ottawa and has given them the starting goal tending that has been lacking for the Senators for many years. However, as good as Elliot has been this year, the lack of playoff experience may be 'Sens downfall this post-season.

Pittsburgh in 7 games

Western Conference

1 - San Jose Sharks
8 - Colorado Avalanche

The Sharks have been a perrenial disappointment during the last several post-seasons and not having success this year may be the straw that breaks the camels back. Star center Joe Thornton has been heavily critiqued for the past several years for not having the playoff statistics expected of a player of his skill set. He's not the only one, as Patrick Marleau and goal tender Evgeni Nabokov have been thrown under the boss consistently as well. The Sharks made big waves in the off-season this year trading for sniper Dany Heatley. Heatley, along with Marleau and Thornton have been dynamic together all year and have been so dominant that all three players made the Canadian Olympic team and played as a line there. Other changes included moving the captaincy to ageless defenceman Rob Blake and a surprising year by winger Devon Setoguchi. Colorado came into the season with very few expecations and exceeded them all with a very young line-up. Rookie of the year candidate Matt Duchesne has proven as an 18-year-old entering the league that he will be a dominant fixture in futue years with the Avalanche along with fellow rookie Ryan O'Reilly. Craig Anderson took over the goal tending duties in Colorado and almost single handidly carried the team all season regularly facing over 40 shots a game. Unfortunately for Colorado, Duchesne is entering the post-season with an injury and Anderson struggled at the end of the year (he played the majority of the teams games).

San Jose in 5 games

2 - Chicago Blackhawks
7 - Nashville Predators

Very few teams in the NHL are as dominant with the puck as the Chicago Blackhawks are. 21-year-old captain Jonathan Taews and Patrick Kane are two of the games brightest young stars and continue to improve at an alarming rate. Throw in another big offensive players such as Patrick Sharp and former all-star Marion Hossa and the Blackhawks are a team that can attack at every angle. They also feature one of the top defensive pairs in hockey with Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, making them a very difficult team to play against at both ends of the rink. The Nashville Predators counter with one of the best work ethics in all of hockey, being one of the most well coached teams for the past several sesaons. Steve Sullivan of the Predators may be the come back player of the year after missing almost two full seasons and having an excellent offensive year. All-star defenceman and Olympian Shea Weber may have one of the most feared shots and can change a game if Nashville can out-hustle Chicago to get power play opportunities. However, in the grand scheme of things the 'Hawks offensive potential should be too much for the 'Preds to handle.

Chicago in 5 games

3 - Vancouver Canucks
6 - Los Angeles Kings

The Vancouver Canucks were expected to contend for their division, but they not only contended for the division, they dominated the second half of the season to claim it. The Sedin twins and Alex Burrows found great chemistry as the top line in Vancouver and saw Henrik Sedin capture the Art Ross trophy as the leagues top scorer. Vancouver finished the year with the most balaced attack of any team. (Six players scored 25 goals or more for the Canucks) Throw into the mix Roberto Luongo who had another stellar year (not to mention an Olympic Gold Medal) and this may be as good a team as Vancouver has ever had entering the playoffs. They play a Los Angels Kings team that has finally broken into the leagues elite as they make a return to the playoffs. Anze Kopitar had a tremendous offensive season for the Kings, at times leading the league until slumping late in the season. Workhorse Ryan Smyth has added the grit to the team that they have been lacking for several years and team captain Dustin Brown continues to put up solid numbers. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises this year has been the play of second year defenceman Drew Doughty, who has put together a dominant season statistically for an offensive defenceman. Doughty has been so good this year that he made Team Canada and may even be a Norris Trophy candidate as the leagues top defenceman. The trouble for the Kings may lie in goal as young goalie Jonathan Quick enters his first playoff opposite of Roberto Luongo.

Vancouver in 7 games

4 - Phoenix Coyotes
5 - Detroit Red Wings

The most intriguing series of the playoffs should be the Coyotes against the Red Wings. Phoenix was picked to finish dead last by most analysts this season due to their off ice issues and coaching changes, but they proved most everyone wrong as they put together the most successful regular season in franchise history. Illya Bryzgalov is one of the main reasons for their success as he has often been put into the same category as Ryan Miller in Buffalo as the best goalie this season. Phoenix also sports a solid attack with consumate professional in Team Captain Shane Doan and sniper Matthew Lombardi. Much of their offense this year has also came from the defence as Keith Yandle, Ed Jovanovski, and Adrian Aucoin have had great offensive years. They are playing a Detroit Red Wings team who was marred by injury most of the year and was questionable to even make the playoffs during points of the season. Most of the usual suspects appear with the winged wheel with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, but where Detroit really shines is with their roleplayers. Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby continue to do what they do best with their shutdown capabilities, but Dan Cleary, Darren Helm, and Patrick Eaves have been great as a third line this season. Rookie goal tender Jimmy Howard has carried this team into the playoffs this season, taking over for Chris Osgood between the pipes. The main issues with Detroit may be that they have too much playoff experience this time around, playing in the past two Stanley Cup Finals and the third round the year before that and fatigue could be a factor, a long with an unproven playoff goal tender.

Phoenix in 7 games