NHL: How the East Will Be Won
The NHL's Eastern Conference has showcased a wealth of quality teams throughout the season. The amount of teams from the East that appear capable of winning the Stanley Cup is vast, much more so than the counterparts from the Western Conference. Trying to pick a favorite from this conference seems as difficult as picking a perfect NCAA tournament bracket. Alas, only 8 teams will make the playoffs. Of those eight teams, some have at least been more consistent, or bolster more talent than the competition. Those teams are Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, and Pittsburgh.
The Washington Capitals have shown inconsistency throughout the year, at one point losing eight consecutive games. However their roster has proved full of talent, enough so to carry the team to the top spot in the conference. A preseason favorite, the Capitals have seen their top player Alex Ovechkin falter in his offensive production. Even so, they have found ways to consistently win games, 48 of them in fact. With Mike Green healthy and back on the blue line this team is extremely dangerous. If Washington can continue to have a balanced attack in the postseason, rather than relying on Ovechkin and Alexander Semin to produce all the offense, the Caps could easily find themselves in the Stanley Cup. If Washington repeats recent history and exits the playoffs early then Bruce Boudreau may be on his way out of the nations capital.
The Flyers rank in the top ten in the league in goals, assists, points, +/-, and hits. This means that while Philly knows how to score, they are also not afraid to mix it up or play rough with the opposition. Quite the desirable set of traits when looking for a playoff contender. Not to mention the fact that the Flyers are battle tested having been to the Stanley Cup just last season. 10 players on this team have 30 points or more, yet somehow the team ranks 19th on the powerplay. Philly must be able to strike on the man advantage in the playoffs in order to win games consistently. While goaltending has been steady this year, it is worth noting that the Flyers are the only team in the league which is yet to record a shutout.Continued on the next page