#1 New York Rangers Vs. #8 Ottawa Senators
The Sens doged a bullet in that New York will play some straightforward Hockey. A first round date with boston would have resulted in an embarrassing beating and probably several injured players. Instead, they will be hit by a smaller, less rough bullet. Ottawa doesn’t have the guns to beat Henrik Lundqvist, nor the D to match NYR’s low scoring style. The Rangers are a fantasy enigma in that they have the potential to go far, but don’t have any attractive fantasy players. Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards have both enjoyed offensive success in the playoffs, but the Rangers will live and die by their goaltending. Fortunately, their goaltending is amazing. The Rangers are good for multiple rounds, so taking a few Rangers might pay off in the long run.
New York – Brad Richards (round 2), Marian Gaborik (round 2), Ryan Callahan(round 4)
Rangers in 5
#2 Boston Bruins Vs. #7 Washington Capitals
Neither team should be happy about how this bracket ended up. Boston would have mauled a smaller Ottawa team and the Capitals had a much better chance at upsetting the Rangers. This will be a surprisingly tough series but Boston is battle tested as the reigning champs and built for the playoffs. It is extremely well documented that Washington’s problem is not being built for the playoffs. Alex Ovechkin is wrongly singled out for Washington’s playoff woes, as he has averaged more thana point per game in the postseason every year he’s played. That makes him good for a mid round pick, but don’t be the guy who takes him with second overall pick and loses the pool because of it (i.e. me in the regular season.) The Bruins on the other hand are loaded with players whose offensive contribution in the playoffs greatly exceeds their regular season numbers. Don’t hesitate to take Bruins players, even at a premium. They will go far.
Boston - Patrice Bergeron(round 1), David Krejci (round 1), Milan Lucic (round 1), Tyler Seguin (round 2), Brad Marchand (round 2), Rich Peverley (round 3), Zdeno Chara (round 3), Nathan Horton (check injury status), Chris Kelly(round 5) Joe Corvo (round 6)
Washington – Alex Ovechkin (round 2)
Bruins in 6
#3 Florida Panthers Vs. #6 New Jersey Devils
The annual 3rd -6th paradox has the Devils drawing the Panthers in the first round. The Caps, the Cane and the Lightning have brought respectability and star power to the SouthEast in recent years and now it’s Florida’s turn. Florida’s a bit of a wild card to me. Their big offseason acquisitions (Versteeg, Campbell, Jovanovski, Bergenheim, Kopecky) all have enjoyed success in the playoffs. It’s that kind of invaluable playoff experience that makes Florida another dark horse team. On the flipside I can never count out Martin Brodeur. Zach Parise’s a clutch guy as well, and he’ll be hungry for a new contract. I think this series will turn out to be much more entertaining than it seems on paper.
Florida – Kris Versteeg (round 3), Sean Bergenheim (round 4), Tomas Kopecky (round 5), Brina Campbell (round 6)
New Jersey – Zach Parise (round 2), Ilya Kovalchuk (round 3), Adam Henrique (round 5), Travis Zajac (check injury status)
Panthers in 7
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins Vs. #5 Philadelphia Flyers
The script writes itself. State rivals. Historical enemies. An increasingly bitter feud. Bafflingly inconsistent goaltending. This one will be won in the trenches. I think in the end Pittsburgh’s magic superstars will show why they’re the best in the world. Evgeni Malkin has been motivated and productive all year and will end up being the difference maker in the end. People tend to forget he’s 6’3” 200# and a former 100 PIM guy and Conn Smythe winner – he’s not afraid of the rough stuff.
Pittsburgh – Evgeni Malkin (first overall pick), Sidney Crosby (round 1), The Real Deal James Neal (round 2), Jordan Staal (round 3), Kris Letang (round 4), Steve Sullivan (round 5)
Philadelphia – Claude Giroux (round 1), Jaromir Jagr (round 2), Scott Hartnell (round 3), Daniel BRiere (check injury status), Wayne Simmonds (round 5)
Penguins in 7