EASTWASHINGTON (1ST) vs. MONTREAL (8TH)
Washington isn't as solid as they appear, as they're dangerously offense-heavy. Can they overcome Jaroslav Halak and his .924 save%? Yes. Montreal appears to be better defensively, but it's all smoke and goaltending. They let up more shots per game than Washington (and most other teams in the league). They can't score at even strength, and while the Caps don't have a very good PK, they're the one team that had a better powerplay than the Habs.
WASHINGTON in 5: The Habs have an advantage in nothing.
NEW JERSEY (2ND) vs. PHILADELPHIA (7TH)
Philadelphia isn't all bad. They don't have goaltending (due to injuries and general lack of stopping the puck) and therefore allow more goals, but when it come to the Devils, who doesn't? The Flyers score more, have better special teams, and are much, much more physical (league leading 80 majors this year). New Jersey is a better team, but not insurmountably so, especially given the difference in style of play. Basically it's goaltending vs scoring and being a huge steaming pile of douche, as Briere, Hartnell, Carcillo and Pronger are wont to do.
NEW JERSEY in 7: Never underestimate the importance of goaltending (and classiness) in the playoffs.
PITTSBURGH (4TH) vs. OTTAWA (5TH)
After watching the Versus announcers, as Paula put it, "sucking off the Pens" for the whole game last night, I don't even want to preview this. Pittsburgh is not "a top team in the East" as they would have you think, and last night wasn't "a rough night for Fleury". The Pens were 27th in the league in SV% (Fleury had a .905) and 20th in GA. They have offense, but somehow no powerplay. They take more penalties but less majors than Ottawa, which basically means they're a bunch of Savvy-killing punks* that should be knocked out (of the playoffs, but also literally) as soon as possible.
PITTSBURGH in 7: God do I not want to see Pittsburgh win, and therefore the entire Versus studio simultaneously get off. But Ottawa is that bad.
*Jordan Staal is ok.
WESTSAN JOSE (1ST) vs. COLORADO (8TH)
This is the only series in which one team has the edge in literally everything. San Jose has a better record, WRA, GF, GA, PP%, PK%, SV%, shots for, and shots against. Only one or two of these stats are even close. However, Colorado has something- something intangible, something that gives them the ability to fight and claw their way to victories. You could call it youth, excitement, the desire to forge an identity as post-Joe Sakic Avs, but I think it's best described as "not being San Jose". I mean, seriously, San Jose? You can't win game one at home? The Sharks got three shots in the 2nd period last night. Three.
COLORADO in 6: Let's not ruin Joe Thornton's playoff streak.
CHICAGO (2ND) vs. NASHVILLE (7TH)
As I said in a previous post, Chicago has decent-ish goaltending at best, but they don't need any better than that, at least not against Nashville. The Hawks let up 25 shots/game, enabling a team that's 23rd in SV% to be 5th in GA. They also get an incredible 34 shots/game themselves. Nashville is mediocre to bad in everything. They have a slight edge in goaltending (16th), but that's all. The Preds also aren't feisty enough to overcome any of this.
CHICAGO in 4: If anyone's going to sweep, it's the Blackhawks.
VANCOUVER (3RD) vs. LOS ANGELES (6TH)
Any team with Ryan Smyth is sure to have some spunk, at the very least when he's on the ice. However, Vancouver is good, and that isn't just the setup to a hilarious joke. They really are good. The Canucks can actually score this year. In fact, their offense has been better than their defense and goaltending, which leads me to believe that they'll be even better in the playoffs. Luongo will improve on his regular season .913 SV%, and if the Sedins keep it up, Vancouver could reasonably be a top contender for the Cup.
VANCOUVER in 6: LA will put up a good fight, but they're no match for Swedish twins and the Italian Stallion.
PHOENIX (4TH) vs. DETROIT (5TH)
Phoenix is a bit like the Bruins, in that they can't score and rely very, very heavily on their goaltender. They're bad at everything offensive and good at everything defensive. Detroit, on the other hand, is respectable in every category. This probably gives the edge to the Red Wings, even though they've had the exact same team for 7-8 years now. Phoenix has a bit more spark to them, though not as much youth as one would expect. The only notable young gun I can pick out is Keith Yandle, who, despite being from Boston gave the most Canadian-sounding interview I've ever heard last night. Promising.
DETROIT in 7: I don't believe enough in Bryzgalov to bet the series on his goaltending, especially over that of Jimmy Howard.