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2010 NHL Playoffs: Eastern Conference 1st round matchups

Thanks to the Devils’ win over the Buffalo Sabres, we can finally be sure about the Eastern Conference playoff seeding. Let’s take a look at the first round.

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 Montreal Canadiens
My goodness, this could be an absolute bloodbath barring a miraculous performance by Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak. The Canadiens are limping their way into the playoffs, losing three in a row and going on a 3-4-3 streak in his last 10 games. Sometimes the simple stats tell everything: the Canadiens are the only team in the postseason with a negative goal differential (-6) while the Capitals sport an absurd +85.

2. New Jersey Devils vs. 7. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers will be headed into the playoffs with Brian Boucher getting them there down the stretch, although there’s a possibility that Philly turns to Johan Backlund. With the emotion that Boucher is playing with now, I can’t see how they give up on too quickly. That being said, it’s going to a drawn out, defensive battle that definitely favors the New Jersey Devils. This is what they acquired Kovalchuk for.

3. Buffalo Sabres vs. 6. Boston Bruins
This is a very, very interesting matchup. Three months ago, this would have been a lock for the Sabres. Yet with Tuukka Rask in net for the Bruins, anything is possible. This is going to be the goaltending battle of the first round, with Ryan Miller doing his best to once again magically carry a team to glory. Neither team has much offense, so I’m expecting a number of overtime games. Since I said that, that means the average score in each game will be 5-3.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 5. Ottawa Senators
I’m not going to be picking the series just yet, but I’m completely up in the air on this series. The Senators had a run of horrible games right after the Olympic break and looked to be falling apart, but have pulled it together at the end of the season. The Penguins, on the other hand, have some questions as they enter the postseason in search of a second straight Stanley Cup. The Pens could win in five, or the Senators could win in six. Hmm....