Rangers-Caps: Basically, we get to see if the Caps are truly committed to their defensive gameplan of the past few months. We also see how much regular season success carries over to the playoffs. I still remember when Tampa played the Islanders in 2004, the Islanders won the season series, but still lost in 5 games. The Rangers have the goalie advantage, the advantage at the blueline (which they didn't have in '09), but without Ryan Callahan, some needs to step up (Marian Gaborik?) to put the puck in the net. No prediction, because I'm a biased Rangers fan, may as well get that out of the way.
Flyers-Sabers: The key to this series is will Chris Pronger play. If he does and plays well, the Flyers will win. If not, the Sabres are more dangerous on offense and Ryan Miller can be the difference maker. I still say the Flyers win, because they have better forwards and just need their goalie(s) not to lose it. Flyers in 7.
Bruins-Canadiens: The best series of the first round. Montreal has the history and they have the season series edge, 4-2. The Bruins have the psychological edge after their 7-0 win in March. Who wins? Boston has clear advantages at forward and the blueline, and goaltending is a wash. Unless the Bruins either don't play their physical style, or play it too much, they should win in 6.
Penguins-Lightning: Once again, the question is about a player coming back. This time, it's Sidney Crosby. I don't think he comes back and Pittsburgh has to make due without him. While the Lightning have terrific players such as Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vinny LeCavalier, I don't think they're ready to win yet. Pittsburgh, with Marc-Andre Fleury leading the way, grinds out a series win in 6.
Canucks-Blackhawks: Are the Canucks capable of finally beating the Blackhawks. Everyone was saying that Vancouver should be upset to play the Hawks again. I think they should be thrilled. To become the champ, you must beat the champ and the Canucks must get over this hill if they are to win. I think it's a challenge they accept and the fact that they have the deepest team in the playoffs, best scoring, best in goals against and they should win. Canucks in 5.
Sharks-Kings: The Kings had a chance to do big things this year, until losing Anze Kopitar. Now they are stuck with a San Jose team who's lurking as a sleeper to win, instead of a favorite. Sharks win in 6.
Red Wings-Coyotes: Until this afternoon, I was willing to make the Coyotes are my upset of the round. Then came the news they could be moving back to Winnipeg after the playoffs (sorry for no link, but I have no time to get one). This means the crowds in Phoenix, which weren't bad last year, will be either empty or full of Wings fans. Plus, it's never smart to pick against Detroit. Wings in 6.
Predators-Ducks: Barry Trotz should be commended for the job he does with a Nashville team who can't score, but seem to make the playoffs every year. If they played 10 years ago like this, they'd have a Cup. Unfortunately you need to score and the Ducks can with Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne. Not enough firepower again for the Preds. Ducks win in 7.