NHL Playoffs East Capsules

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

(1) WASHINGTON CAPITALS (54-15-13)

(8) MONTREAL CANADIENS (39-33-10)

Season Series ...

Habs won it 2-1-1, though all games were relatively close. Montreal's 6-5 win on Feb. 10 on a Tomas Plekanec OT goal ended a franchise record 14-game win streak for the Caps.

Last Playoff Meeting ...

The Habs have played 19 existing NHL teams and a few defunct ones, but this will be the first time they've met the Caps in a post-season setting.

The Skinny ...

Caps' Alex Ovechkin is a driven man after a boatload of individual trophies the past few years, but no Cup ... What Ovechkin doesn't finish for the high scoring Caps, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin usually will, overcoming what Plekanec, Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri can cook up for the Habs ... Ovechkin has 24 points in 20 career games against the Habs, but he's a risk to get carried away physically ... Caps' goalie Jose Theodore must be wary of distractions in the hometown media ... Carey Price played most of this year's Washington series, but Jaroslav Halak should start, despite three straight losses ... Brooks Laich had a hat trick for Washington in the last head-to-head.

Hurting ...

D Paul Mara (shoulder) and C Glen Metropolit (shoulder) are out for the Habs, D Milan Jurcina (sports hernia) is scratched for the Caps, while D Tyler Sloan is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Possible Hero ...

Mike Green, Washington. The defenceman has more than 60 goals the past four seasons, but just four in 21 post-season games. For Montreal, it's Halak's turn at the wheel after Price was over-matched the past two springs.

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(2) NEW JERSEY DEVILS (48-27-7)

(7) PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (41-35-6)

Season Series ...

Dominated by the Flyers, with five victories, starting way back on opening night. Martin Brodeur lost 25 games this year, but five of them to the Flyers.

Last Playoff Meeting ...

Back in 2004, the Flyers dispatched the Devils in five games to open the post-season tournament, going on to an eventual seven-game loss in the conference final to Cup champion Tampa Bay. Teams have split four total playoff series.

The Skinny ...

Philly goaltender Brian Boucher is 10 years removed from his last playoff glory, when he had a 2.03 goals-against average in 18 games. Philly's April woes in net are well documented, but Boucher is coming off the shootout win that put the Flyers in the dance ... Brodeur needs no intro, but has not won a round in two years ... This is Ilya Kovalchuk's time to shine for the Devils after the big trade ... Lots of pressure on the young guns on the Flyers to come through after season-long rumours of a schism in the dressing room with veterans ... Two Cup winners in Jacques Lemaire and Peter Laviolette behind the benches.

Hurting ...

There's no one behind Boucher with Michael Leighton (ankle sprain) and Ray Emery (hip) both done. Winger Andrew Peters (eye) is practising with the Devils.

Possible Hero ...

C Travis Zajac of the Devils finished strong and was the only one to play all 82 games. If D Chris Pronger can keep playing effectively upwards of 26 minutes a night after a busy season, the Flyers will be quite pleased.

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(3) BUFFALO SABRES (45-27-10)

(6) BOSTON BRUINS (39-30-13)

Season Series ...

Boston won it 4-2, but every game was decided by two goals or less. Only 26 goals were recorded in the whole six games.

Last Playoff Meeting ...

These two were once regular partners in April, but they haven't tangled since 1999, when the Sabres began a trip to the Cup final by bumping off the Bs in the first round in six games.

The Skinny ...

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff was careful in the closing weeks to pace U.S. Olympic star Ryan Miller, who played almost 70 games and won 41 of them ... Youngster Tuukka Rask was the hottest of the two Boston goalies down the stretch, with his 1.97 goals-against average topping Miller's 2.22 for first in the league, albeit in less games ... There will be a battle of the big defencemen, with Zdeno Chara taking on Buffalo Calder Trophy candidate Tyler Myers ... Boston's chances would be better with Marc Savard healthy ... Both clubs are well behind their scoring pace of a year earlier, but they have strong goalkeeping.

Hurting ...

Savard's absence with a concussion, and that of D Andrew Ference (groin/hernia), D Dennis Seidenberg (arm) and D Mark Stuart (finger) put the Bruins in a hole, with only Stuart expected back this month. Buffalo could start without C Tim Connolly (foot), C Jochen Hecht (upper body) and RW Drew Stafford (concussion).

Possible hero ...

Held to a goal in 18 previous playoff appearances for Boston, leading scorer C Patrice Bergeron should step up. Thomas Vanek's goal production was almost cut in half in the regular season, but he closed with four against the Senators on Sunday and had a fine playoff the last time Buffalo appeared.

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(4) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (47-28-7)

(5) OTTAWA SENATORS (44-32-6)

Season Series ...

The teams split it 2-2, maintaining the Pens' lead on the all-time chart to 38-25-9-2.

Last Playoff Meeting ...

The clubs played back to back in 2007 and '08, with the Pens sweeping the latter to earn their first trip to the Cup. But Ottawa has a 6-2 mark against Atlantic Division teams in playoffs.

The Skinny ...

It could be a case of a kid thrown to the wolves as Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott will have to stand up to Sid The Kid, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the explosive Pens. The NHL Guide lists Elliott with no playoff experience going back to Tier II ... Crosby, who had 51 goals this year, has not been poison to Ottawa, with just two career goals against the Sens and none on the road, but Malkin is a point-a-game against them ... LW Alexei Ponikarovsky was picked up by the Pens for his scoring, but has one career playoff goal, which came before the lockout ... With Alex Kovalev out, Sens will need some of aging Daniel Alfredsson's 80 career playoff points.

Hurting ...

Kovalev (torn ACL) is done as is D Filip Kuba (back surgery). For the Pens, LW Chris Kunitz (shoulder) is day to day.

Possible hero ...

C Mike Fisher has been doing great work for the Sens with little recognition and playoff hockey should suit him well. If Malkin doesn't re-establish himself as a Conn Smythe favourite in this series, expect G Marc-Andre Fleury to make a case.


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