Not content to stick our noses in other people's business within our own conference, the Defending Big D staff offers opinions on the Eastern Conference now that we've had a chance to watch the first round and ponder just how much worse it is than the West.
The predictions are loquacious enough without my jabbering, so here we go...
Tell us yours in the comments.
(1) Washington Capitals vs (5) Tampa Bay Lightning
Brandon Worley: The Lightning are the feel good story of the postseason so far, rebounding in an incredible way with a new G.M. and a new coach. After barely surviving against Pittsburgh, however, they'll face a completely different animal in the Washington Capitals -- a team that is absolutely firing on all cylinders. It will be interesting to see just how much the Caps have learned from the disappointments of previous seasons, but it appears that with a goaltender in net that can actually stop the puck the Capitals have something in the postseason that hasn't been there in a long time: confidence.
Not to mention the fact that Alex Ovechkin turned on the afterburners against New York and is playing like a man on a mission. If he can avoid letting the pressure that is on his shoulders bring him down -- which happened last season against Montreal -- then the Capitols will be on their way to the Conference Finals. Caps in 6
Continued after the jump...
Art Middleton: The Caps looked quite dominant in their series against the Rangers while the Lightning needed a come back to just get by a Penguins team that had their two best players sitting in the press box the entire series. I think that fact along with this idea that the Caps are a much deeper team in terms of talent and have more playoff experience is why almost everyone is picking the Caps to win this series. But I can't ignore that while the Caps committed to playing better defence throughout the season, the Bolts were actually better offensively than Washington this season. Both teams were great at home and very solid on the road. I think this series is going to be a lot closer than I think many are expecting it to be and it's my pick to be the most enjoyable series of the second round. Lightning in 7
Brandon Bibb:Tampa Bay's been the feel good story of the first round. They have a likeable team, a likeable coach, and they have Steve Yzerman as their GM, who I admired during his playing days even though he played for the hated Red Wings.
But Washington seems like it's learned from it's past playoff failures. At the bedrock of this playoff run is something they haven't had before. Solid netminding from Michael Neuvirth. They also have more scoring from top to bottom and should put away the Lightning without much resistance. Capitals in 6
Pat Iversen: For me, this series comes down to rest. Washington, having knocked out the Rangers in five games, has been resting for the last week. While the Caps nurse their wounds, the Lightning have had to play a grueling seven-game series against the Penguins, including eking out a three-game win streak just to stave off elimination. That physical and emotional exertion will take a toll on them in this series.
And where I think it will most hurt them is in net. Dwayne Roloson, at 41 years of age, isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore. He's played brilliantly for most of the season and against the Penguins, don't get me wrong. But I wonder if he can keep it up as the playoffs roll ahead. It'll help if Michael Neuvirth remembers he's a rookie. People seem to be surprised that Neuvirth has played so well in the playoffs, but what they don't realize is that Neuvirth backstopped the Hershey Bears to a Calder Cup in the AHL last season. He's no rookie when it comes to playoff pressure. If he can stare down Henrik Lundqvist, he'll stare down a tiring Dwayne Roloson. Caps in six
Taylor Baird:The Caps have a fantastic wall in net with Michal Neuvirth between the pipes. With an offense in front of him that puts many a puck in net, I think this could be the Caps team to challenge for the Cup.
Tampa Bay played a dogged fight to 7 games in their series against the Pens. They showed they can beat you both ways in that series - they can light you up with 8 goals or they can hold you to 0 goals and still beat you. They'll need their offense to not pull another disappearing act in order to beat the Caps, scoring on Neuvirth is
hard enough as it is. In this one, I'm pulling for the little guy. Marty St. Louis, that is. Lightning in 7
(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs (3) Boston Bruins
Brandon Worley: This is going to be one gnarly series, and perhaps one of the best we've seen in quite some time. The Bruins will be looking for payback a year after the Flyers made history with their 0-3 comeback and after having to win another close series against Montreal just to advance, the Bruins have much to prove. They've been a top team in the East for a few seasons now but have faced nothing but disappointment in the postseason; the Flyers got a taste of glory last summer and you can tell that this is a team hellbent on getting back to where they believe they deserve to be.
It's going to be physical, it's going to be nasty and I guarantee you there's going to be some suspensions. I can't wait. Flyers in 7
Art Middleton: Round 1 had Canucks vs Blackhawks for big time drama series, round 2 has Bruins and Flyers meeting again a year after the big Bruin 3-0 collapse. Much like last year, I'm convinced that the Flyers goaltender(s) will be the team's downfall but the team in front of the net is too good to dismiss. The Bruins got by the Canadians thanks in large part to their ability to be overly physical and shutdown a smaller Habs squad, but they won't have that on their side this time against the Flyers. This whole series may come down to which power play unit shows up first and if that's the case at least Philly's has shown a tiny bit of life so far compared to the B's. Flyers in 6
Brandon Bibb: Just as Vancouver had a chance to exorcise playoff demons in the first round, so to will the Bruins have that chance against the Flyers in the 2nd round over in the East.
Both teams got pushed to the limit in the first round and both teams have issues with their power plays. The Flyers were terrible with it in the first round. Boston's was worse.
But I do think Philly has a little bit more scoring depth than Boston does. But I think Tim Thomas is better than anyone Philly can throw out there in net.
So I'm flipping a coin...and...it...says: Bruins in 7
Taylor Baird: The Flyers had a lot of scoring depth in their first round. Eight different players scored at least one goal. When you're getting that kind of depth scoring, the goals can come from anyone at any time which makes it hard to defend against.
Boston had one of the worst power plays in the first round, going 0-for-21 in the series. They are the only team in NHL history to win a series without a powerplay goal. The good news is that the Flyers didn't have a spectacular PK in their first round, so maybe they can break their PPG drought. Flyers scoring depth versus Tim Thomas in net with an ailing power play. Who comes out ahead? I'm going with Timmy Thomas and his acrobatic saves. Bruins in 6.