Yes, we all know that the Leastern Conference doesn't hold a candle to the rough and tumble West, but according to tradition they get to fill out half of the Stanley Cup playoffs anyway.
Follow after the jump as Chris and I make our 1st round picks for the East...
#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 Montreal Canadiens
Dirk: Sorry Montreal, there's just no way that the Canadiens will keep up with Alex Ovechkin's Flying Circus. The Caps can score the pretty goals and the gritty goals, and Montreal just doesn't have enough to slow them down or keep up with their pace. Caps in four.
Chris: The Capitals won the President's Trophy with 121 points. The Canadiens limped into the playoffs, clinching with an overtime loss to the Maple Leafs. Washington has the best combination of talent in the NHL, and the league's top power play. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alexander Semin provide a bevy of primary scoring, while Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich, and multiple others make up the best secondary scorers out there. Montreal's only, and I mean only, chance at winning a game in this series is Jaroslav Halak, who is capable of shutting down the most high powered of offenses, especially with a high shot count. Anyway, it doesn't matter. Caps in 4, three if it were possible.
#2 New Jersey Devils vs. #7 Philadelphia Flyers
Dirk: The Devils appear to be a very balanced team, and certainly have reliable veteran goaltending behind them. The Flyers have sensational top-end talent, and if they can get away with loading up the ice time on those guys, they could make this a tough fight. The real story to me is watching Ilya Kovalchuk in his first bid to really drive deep in the playoffs. Will he play like he's trying to win the Cup, or just looking ahead to the KHL next fall? Devils in seven.
Chris: Now this is an interesting one. The Flyers had trouble getting in, and have a career backup in net with no insurance plan. That said, Philadelphia holds the ability to fight (sometimes literally) their way through rivals and has much better special teams than the Devils. But while Brian Boucher is horribly inconsistent, you know what Martin Brodeur will bring- solid, rarely spectacular netminding. The key for New Jersey is to get a lackluster power play going and to light a fire under Ilya Kovalchuk. I like the Flyers to make it very interesting, but the Devils' advantage in net is significant. New Jersey in six.
#3 Buffalo Sabres vs. #6 Boston Bruins
Dirk: Congrats to the Bruins for making the postseason after losing Marc Savard, but I don't see anything special to recommend them this spring. Enjoy that 2nd-overall draft pick from the Phil Kessel deal, though. Holy cow, they made out like bandits on that one. Sabres in five.
Chris: Unless you love goaltending clinics, the matchup between Tuukka Rask and Ryan Miller looks on the surface to be a snore fest. Looking deeper, though, the Bruins struggle more than any other playoff team to score without Marc Savard. The Sabres, on the other hand, are just about above-average in goals scored and allowed. If Miller is anywhere close to his regular season form, Boston will find themselves out of work until next year. Sabres in five.
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Ottawa Senators
Dirk: The Penguins obviously have lots of playoff experience working in their favor, but they also enjoy the basic statistical advantage as well. Pittsburgh has a decent Goal Differential (+20), while the Senators (-13) have the worst among all NHL playoff teams. The Senators are a streaky bunch, and without Kovalev, I don't think their next streak will be a good one. Penguins in five.
Chris: I keep hearing all this chatter about how Ottawa has the best chance at an upset in the first round, the Penguins aren't ready, this, that, the other. Not buying it. All three of Ottawa's goalies don't have a minute of playoff experience and Alexei Kovalev tore his ACL. The Pens, besides being the defending champions, brought in Jordan Leopold and Alex Ponikarovsky to chase the Cup once more. Pittsburgh's the team to beat in the East. Until they run into Washington, that is. Penguins in five.