NHL Playoff Preview Capsules Print
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Tuesday, 08 April 2008 13:15
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 Capsules of NHL first-round series:
EASTERN CONFERENCE
No. 1 MONTREAL CANADIENS (47-25-10) vs. No. 8 BOSTON BRUINS (41-29-12).
2007-08 series record: Montreal 8-0 (one win in overtime).
Playoff History: Montreal 23-7. Last meeting: Montreal 4-3 in 2004 conference quarterfinals.
MONTREAL: Canadiens have won 11 straight over Boston, dating to March 20, 2007. ... Led Bruins for 345 minutes, 41 seconds of 485 minutes of season series. ... Second time in playoff history teams meet after one club won at least eight times during season. ... Canadiens one of seven No. 8 seeds since 1994 to defeat top seed, knocking off Bruins in 2002. ... Since being recalled from minors on Feb. 4, Carey Price (24-12-3) has become first goaltender under the age of 20 to win 20 games in a season since Tom Barrasso and Patrick Roy did it in 1985-86.
BOSTON: The 11-game skid is the Bruins' longest in the franchise's 84-year history against the Canadiens. ... Teams separated by 10 points in standings, the smallest margin for a 1 vs. 8 matchup since format went into effect in 1994. Boston and Montreal finished 14 points apart in 2002 when the Bruins were the top seed and Canadiens were eighth, the previous smallest margin. ... Bruins squandered 3-1 series lead when teams met in 2004 playoffs. ... C Marc Savard was cleared for full contact in practice after missing the final seven games of the regular season with broken bone in his back. C Patrice Bergeron also was cleared for practice contact for first time since serious concussion in October.
OUTLOOK: Montreal loses one but stays dominant over old rival. Canadiens in 5.
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No. 2 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (47-27-8) vs. No. 7 OTTAWA SENATORS (43-31-8).
2007-08 series record: Ottawa 3-0-1 (one win in overtime).
Playoff History: Ottawa 1-0. Last meeting: Ottawa 4-1 in 2007 conference quarterfinals.
PITTSBURGH: Penguins won division crown for first time since 1997-98 season. ... C Evgeni Malkin led NHL with 65 points after Jan. 1, including 32 goals. Had 20 goals and 26 assists in 28 games captain Sidney Crosby missed with ankle injury. ... Crosby was tied for NHL lead with 63 points at time of Jan. 18 injury. He rested for regular-season finale at Philadelphia, a game in which Senators coach Bryan Murray suggested was tanked so Penguins could get favorable matchup with banged-up Ottawa. ... Crosby was second on Penguins with 72 points in only 53 games.
OTTAWA: Led Eastern Conference as recently as Feb. 23. ... Will be without injured captain Daniel Alfredsson and fellow forward Mike Fisher for part of series if not all. ... A No. 7 seed won a first-round series every season from 1997-2006. East No. 7 has won six times in 10 years. ... Team that scored first in four regular-season matchups lost. ... Senators in playoffs for 11th straight season. Reached Stanley Cup finals last year, falling in five games to Anaheim. ... Outscored Penguins 18-10 in 2007 first-round win. ... Line of Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza has been NHL's top scoring trio three straight seasons.
OUTLOOK: Pittsburgh gets revenge for last year's ouster. Penguins in 5.
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No. 3 WASHINGTON CAPITALS (43-31-8) vs. No. 6 PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (42-29-11).
2007-08 series record: Series tied 2-2 (Washington won one in overtime).
Playoff History: Washington 2-1. Last meeting: Philadelphia 4-2 in 1989 Patrick Division semifinals.
in 14th of 15th place at midpoint of season. Capitals were last in 15-team East on Dec. 30. ... Ovechkin scored 51 goals after Boudreau was hired. ... Washington, in playoffs for first time since 2003, has 15 first-time playoff performers on roster.
PHILADELPHIA: Three of four meetings decided by one goal, and the other by two when Philadelphia scored an empty-netter in 6-4 win on Jan. 13. ... Flyers, who had worst record in NHL last season, had league's best turnaround with 39-point increase. Washington was second at plus-24. ... Martin Biron wrested the No. 1 goalie spot away from Antero Niittymaki and played in 18 of final 20 games, going 10-4-4. Will be making postseason debut. ... Flyers were most-penalized team in East with 17.9 minutes per game. Washington was second-least penalized at 11.9 minutes. ... Philadelphia had NHL's second-best power-play unit, clicking at 21.8 percent. ... Philadelphia went 7-1-1 in last nine. ... Forward Danny Briere battling sore knee.
OUTLOOK: Washington proves worthy, then runs out of gas. Flyers in 6.
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No. 4 NEW JERSEY DEVILS (46-29-7) vs. No. 5 NEW YORK RANGERS (42-27-13).
2007-08 series record: New York 7-0-1 (three wins in overtime).
Playoff History: New York 3-1. Last meeting: New Jersey 4-0 in 2006 conference quarterfinals.
NEW JERSEY: New Jersey is in playoffs for 11th straight season, tied with Ottawa for second-longest current run. ... Devils didn't earn win in series with New York until winning shootout in season finale. Clinched home-ice advantage once game went to overtime. ... Outscored Rangers 17-4 in 2006 playoff sweep but scored only nine goals in this season's series with New York. Devils were shut out twice by the Rangers and lost three times in OT. Martin Brodeur had a 1.95 goals-against average in the eight games. ... Zach Parise scored two of his team-high 32 goals against Rangers. Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner also had two.
NEW YORK: Rangers forwards Scott Gomez (1998) and Brendan Shanahan (1987) were first-round draft choices of New Jersey. In his first season with New York since leaving Devils as free agent, Gomez had one goal and six assists versus New Jersey. ... Captain Jaromir Jagr had lowest NHL total with 25 goals, and ended up with disappointing 71 points, but surged in final week with five goals and two assists in last four games. ... Behind Henrik Lundqvist's 2.23 goals-against average, the Rangers posted 12 shutouts. The Devils were blanked 11 times. ... Rangers carried 17-6-5 finish into first-round sweep of Atlanta last season. Closed this season with 18-5-7 spurt.
OUTLOOK: No Stephane Matteau this time, but New York settles it in Game 7 overtime. Rangers in 7.
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