NHL: How the East Will Be Won - Page 2
The Bruins are a threat largely because Tim Thomas has refused to let pucks into the net all season. His play has been truly spectacular. He has a .940 save percentage. Therefore if you shoot 100 pucks at him only 6 are going in. Couple that with the fact that Boston gave up the second fewest shots in the league and you have a real recipe for success. With that kind of play between the pipes Boston does not need tremendous offense in order to win playoff hockey games. That's a good thing because they only have 3 players with 20 goals or more. This is not to say Boston's offense is anemic, in fact they rank 5th in the league in goals. They just don't appear to have a superstar who can take over a game offensively. But with Tim Thomas in net, and behemoth Zdeno Chara guarding the blue line, they may not need one.
The Penguins will enter the playoffs as a bit of an unknown. They know how to win having been to the finals two of the last three years, but their leader Sidney Crosby has missed the second half of the season with a concussion. Even so, he still leads the team in goals with 32. It feels as if the Penguins playoff hopes rest on the shoulders of number 87. Sure Marc-Andre Fleury is a great goaltender, and this team has other players with skill. The addition of James Neal was particularly beneficial. But does anyone think this team can make a run without their star and captain?
These teams feel most equipped for success in the postseason. However, Buffalo has a goaltender in Ryan Miller who has been known to carry a team to the finals (maybe not in the NHL, but we all remember the Olympics of a year ago). The New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens lurk at the bottom of the playoff picture, but both have the potential for an early round upset. So while there are favorites to advance, in this conference, anyone can win.