Now that the Habs have upset the Caps in Game 7 last night, I can break down my predictions for Round 1 for the Eastern Conference. Also, I appoligize for not giving my Round 2 predictions yesterday. They will be in a seperate post, hopefully a little bit later today.
New Jersey v. Philadelphia. I said it would be Philly in 7, but it only took the Flyers 5 games to oust the Devils. After Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne went down I didn't give the flyers much of a chance, but Brian Boucher played well during this series, and Flyers rallied around each other and played a great team game. It didn't hurt that Brodeur was a little off his game during this series. Mike Richards did a good job as a set up man, getting a little over 1 assists per game, on average. Pronger did a good job of shutting down the Devils big guns, Parise and Elias. Kovalchuk was just about the only player on the Devils to notch a couple points consistently throughout the series.
Buffalo v. Boston. I said it would be Buffalo in 5, but it was actually Boston in 6. Tim Thomas couldn't get it done, and Tukka Rask came in and never looked back. He played well for Boston, but would he have done as well if Stafford and Vanek were available to the Sabres the whole series. Miroslav Satan did a good job leading the charge for the B's by netting 2 and assisting on 3 others while still leading the B's top scorers (with 5 points each, Recchi, Krejci, and Bergeron) in plus/minus. Ryan Miller played consistent with his great work during the regular season, but the Sabres lacked secondary scoring from guys like Gerbe, Grier, and Kaleta.
Pittsburgh v. Ottawa. I said it would be Pittsburgh in 5, but it actually took the Pens 6. So far the Pens look like the team that is peaking at the right time. Crosby and Malkin wiped the floor with the Sens. Marc-Andre Fleury played well, but wasn't up to par where he was last year (can't blame him since he won it all last year). It appears that Ottawa's glaring weakness is on the back end. Pascal Leclair and Brian Elliott let in 24 goals against in 6 games. That could be due to lack of good defensemen in front of them. Ottawa's saving grace was Daniel Alfredsson, who played outstanding no matter if the Sens were winning or losing, on the road or at home, during the 1st period or overtime. He was by far the Sens best forward.
Washington v. Montreal. I said Washington in 4, but boy was I wrong as Montreal won it in Game 7 last night. I think it's safe to say that we all expected Ovechkin, Backstrom and company to win after having a comanding 3-1 lead on the Habs. Varlamov did a good job in relief of Theodore, who looked horrible. Jaroslav Halak on the other hand turned himself into a brick wall, when he came in for relief of Carey Price. The shot totals that he faced seem more like totals from games that went into double or triple overtime, not 3 regulation periods. Once Montreal figured out how to defend themselves against Washington's attack, guys like Hal Gill and Roman Hamerlik were able shut down and clear the Caps out of Halak's crease. It didn't hurt that Cammalleri found his stride and Tomas Plekanec continued his production.
As usual, the links will take you to a card from each player that is for sale through SportsBuy.com.