The 2014 NHL playoffs are upon us. As part of our continuing coverage, the staff of Defending Big D has their predictions ready. We'll start in the eastern conference. The fun part to realignment this year is that we've all seen each team in the east at least once so it's easier to be able to predict these matches.
(And if you're looking for someone to give you the most accurate predictions....well, just stay away from mine for the most part!)
(1) Boston Bruins vs (4) Detroit Red Wings
Brad Gardner: Lol, please.
Brandon Worley: The Boston Bruins are built for the postseason and have one of the deepest rosters seen in the NHL in quite some time. Bruins in 5.
Erin Bolen: Detroit has a storied history and some aging stars, but the Bruins are a machine that won't be challenged this early. Bruins in 4.
Taylor Baird: Boston just looks too dominant to allow the Red Wings to take them down. Bruins in 5.
Josh Lile: Bruins walk through Detroit in 4 games.
Brandon Bibb: Detroit lucked out and drew the paper tiger Ducks in the first round in their last season in the Western Conference. This year, no such luck against the Bruins, who take this series in 5.
David Wilson: Detroit outdid themselves just reaching the playoffs. But Boston are too strong. Bruins in 5.
Huw Wales: Boston feels like they are head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference. The Redwings might be back in the playoffs again but they won't last. They'll get a game though. Boston in 5.
Ismael Hammoudi: The Red Wings are on fire right now and with Datsyuk and Zetterberg coming back the combination of their veteran awesomeness and the emergence of some great young players. But, the Bruins are the deepest team in the league with a great top six and good D with the always amazing Rask in net. Every game's going to be tight, but the Bruins are just too good and will be too much for the young Wings to handle. Bruins in 5.
(2) Tampa Bay Lightning vs (3) Montreal Canadiens
Brad Gardner: Hey look, Canada got a team into the playoffs. Tampa in 7.
Brandon Worley: The Ben Bishop injury throws this entire series into another light. This is a toss-up for me. Give me Montreal in 7.
Erin Bolen: The Canadiens are the paper tiger of the east, but this whole series really rests on the wrist of Ben Bishop. The Lightning are still unsure when he'll return, and that probably spells the end of them. Habs in 6.
Taylor Baird: The loss of Ben Bishop could ruin the Lightning's chances. I think it will be really close, but I'm giving Tampa Bay the edge because of the Steven Stamkos factor. Lightning in 7.
Josh Lile: Montreal knocks off Tampa Bay in 6 on the strength of Carey Price. If Ben Bishop had a clean bill of health I would take them.
Brandon Bibb: I have nothing by way of analysis because, outside of their games against the Stars, I saw very little of either team. I do know Ben Bishop is very good. If he's healthy, Lightning probably win this in 5.
David Wilson: For me, this one hinges on Ben Bishop. He missed the final three games of the regular season, and his return is still somewhat in doubt. If he's in, he and Stamkos can lead the Bolts to a win in 6. If he's not? Canadiens in 7.
Huw Wales: Montreal is the lone Canadian team in the playoffs and after the first round there won't be any. I think this one will go all the way to game seven but Tampa will finish on top in the end. Lightning in 5.
Ismael Hammoudi: This is going to be one of the most exciting first round matchups. Both teams have a lot of speed and a lot of offense. This series is going to have an awesome combination of a lot of goalscoring at the same time as awesome goaltending, but advantage Montreal because of Price. Habs in 7.
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (4) Columbus Blue Jackets
Brad Gardner: We have respect for Columbus, and questions about Penguin goaltending. I want to say...Blue Jackets in seven?
Brandon Worley: Columbus is a team of destiny. Blue Jackets in six.
Erin Bolen: Marc-Andre Fleury is allergic to the playoffs, and the team in front of him isn't nearly as dominant as previous versions. Plus the Jackets are the Stars new best friends forever. Jackets in 7.
Taylor Baird: I like what Columbus has going for them, but I don't think they advance...yet. The future is bright there, though, and they'll give Pittsburgh a fight. Penguins in 6.
Josh Lile: I'm not betting on Fleury. Columbus in 5.
Brandon Bibb: I think the Pens are vulnerable this year, for whatever reason. I thought they were vulnerable against the Islanders last year, too. While I think Lumbus gives them a scare, I still say Pens in 6.
David Wilson: I'm picking the Blue Jackets as the Cinderella story of this year's playoffs. Well, them, and the Stars of course. Although the disgraceful exit of the Pens last season could serve to motivate them that bit more this time around. Still, 'Lumbus in 6.
Huw Wales: The Penguins have been good and the Blue Jackets have done well in their first season out east. I think this matchup is going to have a surprising end and that's based on nothing but a gut feeling. Blue Jackets in 5.
Ismael Hammoudi: The Blue Jackets played some great hockey to get into the playoffs and they play a good team game. Pittsburgh is superficially good and doesn't have the depth to go deep, but Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz and Letang are capable of putting up a lot of points and that will be too much for the young Blue Jackets in round 1. Bobrovsky will steal a game or two but it won't be enough. Penguins in 6.
(2) New York Rangers vs (3) Philadelphia Flyers
Brad Gardner: The 6th ranked possession team versus the 23rd. Give me the Rangers in 6.
Brandon Worley: This is another fun as hell series to watch. Who cares who wins, just watch for the theatrics. Rangers in 7.
Erin Bolen: The Flyers have the offensive edge, but the Rangers have the defense and goaltending. A streaky hot Claude Giroux is a huge factor, but Steve Mason missed the last game of the season after being shook up in a collision. A slugfest, but Rangers in 7.
Taylor Baird: Henrik Lundqvist is the secret weapon to stymying the Flyers offensive weapons. Rangers in 6.
Josh Lile: I'm not betting on Steve Mason. Rangers take it in 4.
Brandon Bibb: All those who trust Steve Mason in the net for the Flyers in this series, raise your ha...OK, that's what I thought. Rangers in 6.
David Wilson: This series makes me wish I cared about the Eastern Conference a little bit more. My pick to go the distance, with Lundqvist and home ice giving the Rangers the advantage. New York in 7.
Huw Wales: I think the Rangers are going to win this won and it will be an ugly playoff series. The Rangers are stingy in the goals against category and they'll be able to shut down the Flyers. Rangers in 6.
Ismael Hammoudi: This is going to be another amazing round one matchup because of a lot of the bad blood between these teams. The Rangers have a big advantage in net with Lundqvist, even though Mason has been good this year. However, the Flyers are an overall better team and their key players are producing at the right time. Their young forwards are good enough to shut down New York's big three and that will win them the series. Flyers in 6.