(1) Washington vs. (8) Rangers
Rangers in 6. I'm going Rangers here, because, well just because. I think Washington is ripe to be knocked off, until they can prove otherwise. I think if Hank can get hot, and if all the Rangers scoring doesn't disappear at once, they can take this. Washington is a good team, and Ovechkin can't be taken lightly, but they don't scare me that much.
(2) Philadelphia vs. (7) Buffalo
Philadelphia in 5. I don't think Philadelphia is as strong as last year, but I don't think they are going out in the first round either. Although if they did, Rangers fans wouldn't complain.
(3) Boston vs. (6) Montreal
Boston in 7. I really feel strongly that Boston will win, and it may be sooner, but I'm going on history and ugliness and grittiness and thinking this series will go the distance. This is the series, besides the NYRs, I'll be keeping my eyes on the most.
(4) Pittsburgh vs. (5) Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay in 6. I just don't think Pittsburgh has anything to threaten right now. Tampa Bay can fire on all cylinders when they want to (Thank you again, Tampa!) and have such a threat of scoring from so many different players. True, Fleury can get hot and can make this series last longer, but I just see it as an early exit for Pitt this year.
(1) Vancouver vs. (8) Chicago
Vancouver in 5. I think it'll be an interesting series, due to rivalry reasons, but Chicago limped into the playoffs. Vancouver, perhaps more than ever, seems poised for a long run. I'm going to go with them until they prove me wrong.
(2) San Jose vs. (7) Los Angeles
San Jose in 6. I am not counting L.A. out, because San Jose has proven little over the long term, but I think I give the Sharks the benefit early in the playoffs. Injury to Kopitar did not affect L.A. as much as I expected in late games, but playoffs are a different story.
(3) Detroit vs. (6) Phoenix
Phoenix in 7. I think it'll be another long series, and I'm hoping the Coyotes can pull it off in this year's rematch. This is really just a hope/heart pick, I'll be honest.
(4) Anaheim vs. (5) Nashville
Nashville in 5. I think Nashville is an underrated team with a great goalie. If Rinne gets hot, Anaheim go home. It's that simple.