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Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Joel Auerbach/2011 Getty Images

No. 1 Washington Capitals (48-23-11) v. No. 8 New York Rangers (44-33-5)

2010-11 Season series: Rangers 3-1-0

Breakdown: The Capitals have a more defensive style than in previous years but will need all their big guns to get to Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Caps superstar Alexander Ovechkin had a mere 32 goals but goes into the regular-season playoffs with three goals and four assists in his past four games. Caps expect defenceman Mike Green back from a concussion to start the series.

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Washington in 5

No. 2 Philadelphia Flyers (47-23-12) v. No. 7 Buffalo Sabres (43-29-10)

2010-11 Season series: Flyers 2-1-1

Breakdown: The Flyers should be favoured but are uncertain in goal with rookie Sergei Bobrovsky. Star defenceman Chris Pronger may not play because of a hand injury. The Sabres have goaltender Ryan Miller back in the lineup and he is the key to this series.

Buffalo in 7

No. 3 Boston Bruins (46-25-11) v. No. 6 Montreal Canadiens (44-30-8)

2010-11 Season series: Canadiens 4-2-0

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Breakdown: Goaltender Carey Price is arguably playing better than 2010 playoff hero Jaroslav Halak was a year ago for the Habs but don't look for another playoff miracle. The rest of the team is not nearly as good as Price and Boston netminder Tim Thomas was only the best goaltender in the NHL during the regular season.

Boston in 6

No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins (49-25-8) v. No. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning (46-25-11)

2010-11 Season series: Even split at 2-2-0

Breakdown: The Penguins did a great job shaking off the losses of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and winning as a lunch-bucket defensive team. If they are to continue this run, the Pens have to shut down Bolts scorers Steve Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. This depends on goaltender Marc-André Fleury, who should prove to be the difference in this series.

Pittsburgh in 7

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More

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