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NHL Eastern Conference Semifinals Predictions

Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs are in the books, and only 8 teams remain in the quest for the cup.  Here are my predictions of how the Eastern Conference Semifinals will end up.

First up is the #1 seeded Washington Capitals versus the #5 seeded Tampa Bay Lightening.  Washington looked very strong in their series against the #8 seeded New York Rangers, losing only one game.  Capitals goalie, Michael Neuvirth, looked especially strong during the series with a 1.38 GAA, a shutout, and a .946 save percentage.

The Lightning overcame a three to one game deficit to beat the #4 seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games in their quarterfinals series. Winger Martin St. Louis led the team with eight points (four goals and four assists) in the series.

During the season, the Capitals won their season series with the Lightning four games to two.  Even though the Lightning have shown that they can come back from a large deficit, the Capitals are not the Penguins.  If the Lightning fall down two games to none to the Capitals, it will all be over.

I think that Neuvirth is going to be a major factor in how well the Capitals do in this series.  If he stands on his head like he did against the Rangers, knowing how good the Capitals are at scoring at whim, I think that the Capitals will win in six.

The other series pits the #2 seeded Philadelphia Flyers against the #3 seeded Boston Bruins.  Both of these teams won their series in seven games.

The Flyers rebounded from a three games to two deficit to win the next two games and defeat the #7 seeded Buffalo Sabres. Winger Claude Giroux led the Flyers in scoring in the series with nine points (one goal and eight assists).

The Bruins also escaped the brink of elimination, being down two games to none to come back and win the series in seven over the #6 seeded Montreal Canadians.  Center Patrice Bergeron lead the Bruins in scoring for the series with seven points (two goals and five assists).

This is going to be a very interesting matchup.  The Flyers have home field advantage, but the Bruins took the season series three games to one. 

If Bruins goalie Tim Thomas can play like he played against the Canadians, I think the Bruins have a very good chance of taking this series from a Flyer team who used three different goalies in their series against the Sabres, each of them looking good and bad at different points. 

The Sabres seemed to be able to score fairly easily against the Flyers, and the Bruins have a much better offensive team, so based on offensive ability and goalie prowess, I think that the Bruins will take the series in seven.

While I believe that these are very good, educated guesses, this is the playoffs: where anything can happen and legendary stories are made.  These two series will certainly be entertaining and nail biting down to the very last whistle, and if one team makes even one mistake, it can drastically affect either series.

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