Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eastern Conference Semifinal Preview
The first round is over and the Capitals, Flyers, Bruins, and Lightning have emerged out of the Eastern Conference to battle in the semifinals! The Capitals will engage the Lightning while the Flyers and Bruins rekindle last year’s rivalry.
Before Black & Blue & Gold’s staff preview the two ECSF series, how did they do in the quarterfinal round? I went 2-2 with not a single series predicted perfectly, Alex went 3-1 with the BOS/MTL series predicted perfectly, Tom went 2-2 with the WSH/NYR series predicted perfectly, and Jay went 3-1 with not a single series predicted perfectly. Onto the series previews!
5th Seed Tampa Bay Lightning vs 1st Seed Washington Capitals
Vulgar Stats Playoff Power Ranking:
Regular Season Series: WSH wins series 4-1-1
Phil: I feel like the Capitals are the most complete team in the playoffs right now, but Roloson is hot and a hot goaltender can be a soul-crusher. It won’t be enough this time. Washington will keep thinking that these series end in 5 games even after Tampa Bay’s special teams cause some consternation. WSH in 5
Alex: The Capitals are probably the most talented team left in the finals, especially with their goaltending playing extremely well at the most opportune time. WSH in 6
Tom: Washington is a legitimately scary team. They’ve bought into the fact that defense is necessary in the playoffs, and fought through another case of ‘here we go again’. Tampa doesn’t have the goaltending to keep Washington’s offense at bay to win a full series. WSH in 6
Jay: Washington looks to have a slight edge in talent, but playoffs come down to toughness, and the ability to shut other teams down. Tampa definitely has the bigger and meaner defensive core, and I think in the end that will be what it comes down to. TBL in 6
Vulgar Stats Playoff Power Rankings:
Regular Season Series: BOS wins series 3-0-1
Phil: Boston is a more powerful Sabres team. Solid forward corps, a defense anchored by a giant blueliner, and a Vezina-winning goaltender in net. Their strength comes from the little things they do. That being said, I don’t see the Bruins getting revenge for last year’s embarrassing collapse, despite Mark friggin Recchi. PHI in 6
Alex: Tough series to call. Philly was 0/7 on the power play versus Boston in the regular season. Boston was 0-fer on the power play in the first round. I think Philly’s depth gets them through another series. PHI in 7
Tom: Philadelphia only played one good all around game against Buffalo, and that was in game 7 against a very depleted lineup. They showed problems handling physical play when the Sabres pushed the issue, and Boston is a team that will bang you all night long. Assuming the NHL sticks with it’s playoff policy of not calling majors, this series could be ugly. Boston matches up in the front, and maintains a significant goaltending edge. BOS in 6
Jay: I think Boston will have run out of gas being pushed to the limit and beyond with Montreal. Philly is charged up, and Briere has been on fire as of late. The true X-Factor in this series is easily the play of Chris Pronger. PHI in 5