First round predictions:

Eastern Conference

(1) Boston vs. ( Montreal

Boston in five. Bruins exorcise some demons of losses to the Habs in past playoffs.

(2) Washington vs. (7) New York

Washington in seven. Lundqwist makes it a series, but the Caps eventually overpower the Blueshirts.

(3) New Jersey vs. (6) Carolina

Carolina in six. The Canes enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league. The Devils? Not so much right now.

(4) Pittsburgh vs. (5) Philadelphia

Pittsburgh in five. It won't be 4-2, 4-2, 4-1, 2-4, 6-0 like last season's matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it will still be over in five closely-matched tight games.


Western Conference

(1) San Jose vs. ( Anaheim

San Jose in five. The games in this all-California showdown will likely be on so late that folks on the East coast may be able to catch Sharks-Ducks live OT hockey when they wake up for work the following morning.

(2) Detroit vs. (7) Columbus

Detroit in five. Steve Mason will stand on his head for one win, but the Blue Jackets don't have the playoff experience to match up with the Red Wings.

(3) Vancouver vs. (6) St. Louis

Vancouver in seven. The Blue Notes may be able to make this a series for a while, but when the chips are down, Luongo will come up big.

(4) Chicago vs. (5) Calgary

Chicago in six. Welcome to the playoffs, Kane and Toews. The kids help knock former Blackhawk bench boss Mike Keenan out of the playoffs.