2010 NHL playoffs: Eastern Conference first round predictions

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This is what everyone loves to do as we gear up for the first of four
rounds of playoff hockey: throw a dart at the wall and hope we can come
close to predicting the outcomes of each series.

So we are, Pro Hockey Talk’s predictions for 2010 NHL Conference
Quarterfinals:

(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) Montreal
Canadiens (
full
preview here
)

Season series (Tied 2-2)
Nov. 20:
Montreal 3 @ Washington 2
Nov. 28: Washington 4 @ Montreal 3
(SO)
Jan. 5: Montreal 2 @ Washington 4
Feb. 10:
Washington 5 @ Montreal 6 (OT)

Brandon: You have to feel bad for the
Canadiens, who have a decent shot of scaring the Capitals. But
Washington is too hungry and too talented. Washington in 5.

James: I have to admit that I’m surprised so many
people are picking the Habs. Is this just for attention? Did someone not
get hugged enough growing up? Washington in 5.

Joe: This will be Washington’s test, at team that has great goaltending, a semi-adherence to defensive hockey and some scoring touch. Caps will still win but it’ll be annoying for them. Washington in 6.

(2) New Jersey Devils vs. (7) Philadelphia
Flyers (
full
preview here
)

Season series (Philadelphia won 5-1)
Oct.
3:
Philadelphia 5 @ New Jersey 2
Nov. 16: New Jersey 2 @
Philadelphia 3
Dec. 12: Philadelphia 1 @ New Jersey 4
Feb.
8:
New Jersey 2 @ Philadelphia 3
Feb. 10: Philadelphia 3
@ New Jersey 2 (OT)
March 28: New Jersey 1 @ Philadelphia 5

Brandon: If the Flyers had any sort of
reliable goaltending, I’d be seriously tempted to go with the fellas
from Broad St. Yet Boucher has been too inconsistent; is Michael
Leighton better? New Jersey in 6.

James: The Devils haven’t been a great
playoff team since the lockout, but thankfully the Flyers are an
absolute mess. That being said, don’t discount the Flyers’ overall
talent in this one. New Jersey in 6.

Joe: I don’t trust Brian Boucher in the playoffs, but I do think he can steal a couple of games. New Jersey in 6.

More after the jump.

(3) Buffalo Sabres vs (6) Boston Bruins (full
preview here
)

Season series (Boston won 4-2)
Nov. 7:
Buffalo 2 @ Boston 4
Nov. 20: Boston 2 @ Buffalo 1
Jan.
29:
Boston 1 @ Buffalo 2
Feb. 9: Boston 3 @ Buffalo 2
March
29:
Buffalo 3 @ Boston 2
April 8: Buffalo 1 @ Boston 3

Brandon: Of all the teams for the Sabres
to get, it had to be Boston. The Bruins match up perfectly with Buffalo,
in what will be an extremely low scoring series. Buffalo in 7.

James: Nothing makes more sense to me than
the Bruins ending their season at home; they barely went over .500 in
Beantown (18-17-6). People assume that the Sabres lack firepower because
they don’t have a big name star, but they have too much offensive depth
for Boston. Buffalo in 6.

Joe: This
will be a slow, bleeding death for the Sabres against a dreadfully
boring team that can get by with one or two goals a game. Unless
Olympics Ryan Miller shows up, the Sabres are going to struggle. Boston
in 7.

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Ottawa Senators (full
preview here
)

Season series (Tied 2-2)
Oct. 12:
Pittsburgh 4 @ Ottawa 1
Nov. 19: Pittsburgh 2 @ Ottawa 6
Dec.
23:
Ottawa 2 @ Pittsburgh 8
Jan. 28: Ottawa 4 @
Pittsburgh 1

Brandon: Upset special! The Penguins were
too inconsistent at the end of the season, while the Senators finally
pulled it together in front of Brian Elliott. The Senators get first
round revenge for 2008, against a tired and pressured Penguins team. Ottawa
in 7.

James: If I were to pick an upset in the
East, it would be this. The Senators are frisky and the Penguins are
tired. That being said, Evgeni Malkin hasn’t been right all year
(dropping
from 113 points to 77 points), so if he gets things together the
Penguins are dangerous. Again. Pittsburgh in 6.


Joe: Everyone
that wants to pick a sweep never does and says it’ll end in five games.
Screw that noise. Pens in four over a brutally over matched Sens team. Pittsburgh
in 4.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

austonmatthews
Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.