It’s that time of the season again – well a bit early this year – for our “if” the 2013 NHL playoffs started today. In this shortened season the Eastern Conference is a mess. For example the Rangers, Flyers and Lighting all have 17 points right now currently tied for the 8th and final playoff spot.
After tonight’s games this could all change and the Eastern standings could change completely. But to have some fun, let’s take a look at the current standings in the Eastern Conference and do a breakdown of each potential playoff scenario.
Be sure to take the poll below on who you think will make it to the Stanley Cup Finals based on these standings and also be sure to comment below with your opinion. All comments are welcomed!
EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTER FINALS
(1) Montreal Canadiens vs (8) Tampa Bay Lightning
The Habs are surprising a lot of people right now, including myself. I had them no where in my final 8 teams before the season started, and boy am I sorry for not adding them. They are red hot and Carey Price is playing lights out, having a stacked defense in front helps. We talked about how the Canadiens may move a defenseman a few weeks back but why would they? Defense wins championships and that’s what’s helping this Canadiens team roll along. The Lighting on the other hand, started the season off hot then trailed off. Surprisingly though they still lead the NHL in goals for even though they have trailed off as of late. In terms of this match-up I don’t think the Bolts have the goaltending they are looking for just yet. This is Anders Lindback’s first season in the Eastern Conference and he is learning quickly how different it is. He would be the downfall in this match-up letting the Canadiens win in 6.
(2) New Jersey Devils vs (7) Ottawa Senators
Not many people expected the Devils to remain this solid forechekcing team when they lost Zach Parise in free agency, well entirely not the case. The Devils appear to be the same team as last year, only difference is their not flying under the radar anymore. Brodeur is still Brodeur and Kovalchuck is getting better and better as each game rolls on in this Devils system. As for the Senators, they lost two key players to injury and I refuse to mention their names because they were my underdog team this season and it appears they will probably not even make the playoffs this year. I hope I’m wrong but since those injuries, they haven’t shown much on offense, and against the Devils you need offense. Craig Anderson will stand on his head and it will be a great goaltending battle, but the Devils will eventually skate away in 5 games.
(3) Carolina Hurricanes vs (6) Toronto Maple Leafs
How about them Maple Leafs, where did they even come from? We talked about how they took a gamble before the season started and boy did it payoff. Only thing to me though is, the Leafs always start every season hot then eventually get cold and trail off. This shortened season may actually benefit them in a big way this year though. The Canes snuck into first place in their division but are missing Jeff Skinner, and to me, No Skinner, no playoff chance. Cam Ward is picking his game back up, but won’t be good enough against this red hot Leafs team. Leafs in 6
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (5) Boston Bruins
This one would be an exciting match-up to watch, only problem is, Boston would shut all the Penguins fans up on their own ice. Since you know, the Penguins are just 3-4 this year at home and sucked at home all last season. I’m convinced the building is cursed, something with Lemieux and pouring water at center ice on opening night. But anyways. The Bruins are one scary team and to make matters worse Boston haters, they have the cap space to add additional pieces to this Bruins team. The power play is still a mess but who cares, they won the Cup before without a power play. Bruins in 5
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMI FINALS
(1) Montreal Canadiens vs (6) Toronto Maple Leafs
Imagine if this happened, just imagine the intense games we would witness. This would probably be one of the best match-ups in NHL history, especially if the Leafs got James Reimer back. But remember this is now and he is injured. This match-up would be a battle from start to finish, but let’s be honest, Carey Price would steal the show. Ben Scrivens wouldn’t stand a chance against this Canadiens team in the playoffs. Habs in 5
(2) New Jersey Devils vs (5) Boston Bruins
For the past 2 seasons I’ve always said that the Devils were the team to beat come playoff time and for that I rode them all the way to the Finals last season night after night, with some big payouts too. And looking at this match-up I will back them again. Tuukka Rask would be the downfall along with the Bruins power play in this series. The Devils are too disciplined and too aggressive on the forecheck NOT to beat the Bruins in this spot. Maybe if the Bruins went on a hot streak and got the power play clicking, things could be different. But I don’t see it happening, because remember, this is now, not a few months from now. Devils in 6
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(1) Montreal Canadiens vs (2) New Jersey Devils
Here it is, the projected – in the now – Eastern Conference finals. I’m going to be honest with you, this one is a hard one to examine. Both the Canadiens and Devils play aggressive forechecks and both play tight on the back-end. I can’t see any of these games being high scoring, and the team to win each game would be the team to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes. Special teams would be the deciding factor in this one. Considering the Devils are a bit tougher and the Habs do need toughness come playoff time, I’m going to give the keys to the Devils to advance. The Devils have been down this road last year and they know what it takes to win. Devils in 6
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