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2010 NHL playoffs: Eastern Conference first round predictions

This is what everyone loves to do as we gear up for the first of four rounds of playoff hockey: throw a dart at the wall and hope we can come close to predicting the outcomes of each series.

So we are, Pro Hockey Talk’s predictions for 2010 NHL Conference Quarterfinals:

(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) Montreal Canadiens (full preview here)

Season series (Tied 2-2) Nov. 20: Montreal 3 @ Washington 2 Nov. 28: Washington 4 @ Montreal 3 (SO) Jan. 5: Montreal 2 @ Washington 4 Feb. 10: Washington 5 @ Montreal 6 (OT)

Brandon: You have to feel bad for the Canadiens, who have a decent shot of scaring the Capitals. But Washington is too hungry and too talented. Washington in 5.

James: I have to admit that I’m surprised so many people are picking the Habs. Is this just for attention? Did someone not get hugged enough growing up? Washington in 5.

Joe: This will be Washington’s test, at team that has great goaltending, a semi-adherence to defensive hockey and some scoring touch. Caps will still win but it’ll be annoying for them. Washington in 6.

(2) New Jersey Devils vs. (7) Philadelphia Flyers (full preview here)

Season series (Philadelphia won 5-1) Oct. 3: Philadelphia 5 @ New Jersey 2 Nov. 16: New Jersey 2 @ Philadelphia 3 Dec. 12: Philadelphia 1 @ New Jersey 4 Feb. 8: New Jersey 2 @ Philadelphia 3 Feb. 10: Philadelphia 3 @ New Jersey 2 (OT) March 28: New Jersey 1 @ Philadelphia 5

Brandon: If the Flyers had any sort of reliable goaltending, I’d be seriously tempted to go with the fellas from Broad St. Yet Boucher has been too inconsistent; is Michael Leighton better? New Jersey in 6.

James: The Devils haven’t been a great playoff team since the lockout, but thankfully the Flyers are an absolute mess. That being said, don’t discount the Flyers’ overall talent in this one. New Jersey in 6.

Joe: I don’t trust Brian Boucher in the playoffs, but I do think he can steal a couple of games. New Jersey in 6.

More after the jump.

(3) Buffalo Sabres vs (6) Boston Bruins (full preview here)

Season series (Boston won 4-2) Nov. 7: Buffalo 2 @ Boston 4 Nov. 20: Boston 2 @ Buffalo 1 Jan. 29: Boston 1 @ Buffalo 2 Feb. 9: Boston 3 @ Buffalo 2 March 29: Buffalo 3 @ Boston 2 April 8: Buffalo 1 @ Boston 3

Brandon: Of all the teams for the Sabres to get, it had to be Boston. The Bruins match up perfectly with Buffalo, in what will be an extremely low scoring series. Buffalo in 7.

James: Nothing makes more sense to me than the Bruins ending their season at home; they barely went over .500 in Beantown (18-17-6). People assume that the Sabres lack firepower because they don’t have a big name star, but they have too much offensive depth for Boston. Buffalo in 6.

Joe: This will be a slow, bleeding death for the Sabres against a dreadfully boring team that can get by with one or two goals a game. Unless Olympics Ryan Miller shows up, the Sabres are going to struggle. Boston in 7.

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Ottawa Senators (full preview here)

Season series (Tied 2-2) Oct. 12: Pittsburgh 4 @ Ottawa 1 Nov. 19: Pittsburgh 2 @ Ottawa 6 Dec. 23: Ottawa 2 @ Pittsburgh 8 Jan. 28: Ottawa 4 @ Pittsburgh 1

Brandon: Upset special! The Penguins were too inconsistent at the end of the season, while the Senators finally pulled it together in front of Brian Elliott. The Senators get first round revenge for 2008, against a tired and pressured Penguins team. Ottawa in 7.

James: If I were to pick an upset in the East, it would be this. The Senators are frisky and the Penguins are tired. That being said, Evgeni Malkin hasn’t been right all year (dropping from 113 points to 77 points), so if he gets things together the Penguins are dangerous. Again. Pittsburgh in 6.
Joe: Everyone that wants to pick a sweep never does and says it’ll end in five games. Screw that noise. Pens in four over a brutally over matched Sens team. Pittsburgh in 4.