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The Tely sports department (and a special guest) reveal their first-round predictions

It's that time of year when The Telegram sports department offers for your consumption (and perhaps regurgitation) our predictions for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Beginning with matchups from the opening round, which starts tonight, Sports Editor Robin Short and staffers John Browne, Brendan McCarthy and Kenn Oliver select who they think will win each series and in how many games, while supplying some of their thoughts on their choices.

It's that time of year when The Telegram sports department offers for your consumption (and perhaps regurgitation) our predictions for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Beginning with matchups from the opening round, which starts tonight, Sports Editor Robin Short and staffers John Browne, Brendan McCarthy and Kenn Oliver select who they think will win each series and in how many games, while supplying some of their thoughts on their choices.

And once again, in what had has become a Tely spring tradition, a member of the paper's editorial staff has been invited to participate. This year, it's reporter/online specialist Alisha Morrissey taking the plunge, making selections based on the experimental and controversial nursery-rhyme method (except when it came to her favourite team, the Senators).

There don't appear to be a whole lot of of surprises in the first-round choices, although it must be pointed out that Short and Browne both have decided against teams they have worshipped since childhood (the Canadiens and Bruins, respectively) perhaps going with the favourites in the deluded belief there is a prize available to the overall winner. Browne's back-turn on Boston has to be seen as particularly shocking, and reportedly led to Harry Sinden's decision to revoke the reporter's membership in the Secret Order of Eddie Shore, Dit Clapper and Bronco Horvath.

Oliver had no such encumbrances to consider, since he professes to hold no passion for any particular team ever since turning in his passport for Leafs Nation (or was he deported?)

For you reference, Browne finished on top in 2008. Oliver is the defending champion, although this is disputed by Browne and came as the result of a contentious and since-discarded tie-breaking formula. This year, any deadlocks will be broken by an arbitration committee headed up by Telegram photographer (and former sports reporter) Joe Gibbons.

Here are the picks by series (seedings in brackets):

Eastern Conference

Montreal Canadiens (8)-Washington Capitals (1)

Browne: There's no doubt the Capitals will win this series, but I bet Jose Theodore struggles against the Habs.

Capitals in five.

McCarthy: Washington won't have a lot of trouble against the Canadiens, but this might be the only series the Capitals win. Remember, if the seedings hold through the first round, the Caps would face the Penguins next time around.

Capitals in five

Morrissey: Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, Catch a tiger by the toe.

If he hollers let him go, Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

I think the Canadiens will fight hard and win in the end against the Capitals' great team.

Canadiens in seven

Oliver: The Habs' Halak certainly proved himself the team's No. 1 goalie these last few weeks, but if he knew he would be facing the league's top offence in the first round, it's a title I'm sure he would gladly relinquish to Carey Price. This should be over quickly.

Capitals in five.

Short: For a team that finished first overall, that has the game's most exciting player, an outstanding support staff and perhaps hockey's best blueline general, the Caps sure are much maligned. One NHLer - R.J. Umberger of Columbus - went so far as to say Washington won't last through the playoffs. One thing's for certain: they'll get through the first round. The smurf-like Habs aren't built for the post-season and while Montreal wins on the goaltending front - Jaroslav Halak is better than either Jose Theodore or Simyon Varlamov - the Caps are much, much better in just about every other department.

Capitals in five.

New Jersey Devils (2)-Philadelphia Flyers (7)

Browne: I put a lot of emphasis on goaltending in the post-season. Martin Brodeur isn't the goalie he used to be but even on his worst days he'll outplay anyone between the pipes for the Flyers. Devils' pickup Ilya Kovalchuk will put it together when the chips are down.

Devils in six.

McCarthy: The Devils are a team built for the playoffs, with good goaltending, good team defence and a couple of snipers in Parise and Kovalchuk. If the Flyers had a proven netminder, maybe they could offer a better challenge, but Brian Boucher - as well as he's played lately - doesn't cut it.

Devils in five.

Morrissey: My mother told me to pick the best one,

And you are not it!

I choose the Jersey Devils. They do have Martin Brodeur after all.

Devils in five.

Oliver: A month ago, I might have said Philly would give Jersey a challenge. But relying on Boucher and facing a Devils team which reminds me of the 2000 and 2003 Stanley Cup winners, it doesn't bode well for Laviolette and company.

Devils in six.

Short: When was the last time the Flyers had a goalie worth talking about? Bernie Parent? Pelle Lindberg? Okay, seriously. Ron Hextall? If you're the Flyers going into the playoffs hanging your hat on Brian Boucher, you're in trouble. Yes, Martin Brodeur's getting older, but he was still good enough to help Jersey finish second in the East. Only way Philly wins is if Brodeur tanks and Ilya Kovalchuk, brought in to win a Cup, checks out for whatever reason.

Devils in four.

Buffalo Sabres (3)-Boston Bruins (6)

Browne: Sensational rookie Tuukka Rask is the best thing the Bruins have going for them, but he's up against the best goalie in the league this season in Ryan Miller. Rask is also untested in the post season. The Bruins' style of play lends itself to the tighter checking playoff hockey but Boston has a popgun offence.

Sabres in five.

McCarthy: JB thinks he's giving himself a chance to win it all by going against his beloved (or are they?) Bruins, but it's my head as much as my heart that says this will be an upset.

Bruins in seven.

Morrissey: Not because you're dirty,

Not because you're clean,

Just because you kissed the girl behind the magazine.

Sabres in six.

Oliver: It's all about goaltending this post-season, and Miller certainly has the edge over Rask. While I'm confident someone will knock off the Sabres before the East is decided, these Bruins won't be the ones to do so.

Sabres in six.

Short: If there's an upset in the making it might be here. No, wait, I'm drinking. Let's see: the Bruins scored the fewest goals in the NHL this year. They're playing off against Ryan Miller, the league's best goalie this season, and who will win the Vezina Trophy. On top of that, the Bruins' best forward, Marc Savard, is watching from home. You figure it out.

Sabres in four.

Pittsburgh Penguins (4)-Ottawa Senators (5)

Browne: This series could go either way, but Sidney Crosby will carry the Pens to victory.

Penguins in seven.

McCarthy: There are all sorts of dire predictions about Penguins, but Pittsburgh isn't much-changed from the team that went all the way last year.

Penguins in five.

Morrissey: I'll probably be wrong on this one, but I'm saying Ottawa.

The Sens are my team and I don't think Marc-Andre Fleury can win any more awards without falling over from the massive weight of them all. Ottawa will miss Alexei Kovalev, which is why the series will go all the way before the Senators take out Pittsburgh.

Senators in seven.

Oliver: After a truly uninspired, middle of the road effort by the Penguins this season this could be the Eastern Conference's first round upset. Then again, I don't see Crosby letting the Pens to go down easy.

Penguins in seven.

Short: Have to hand it to the Sens: they finished out of the playoffs last season, were forced to trade their best goalscorer, Dany Heatley, yet turned it around to register a 94-point season, winning seven of their last 10 games. But it's hard to discount a Pittsburgh team that has the game's greatest player.

Penguins in seven.

Western Conference

San Jose Sharks (1)-Colorado Avalanche (8)

Browne: Even the underachieving Sharks can't blow this one.

Sharks in five.

McCarthy: San Jose isn't going very far again this year, but the Sharks' exit won't be made through Denver.

Sharks in six.

Morrissey: One potato, two potato, three potato, four,

five potato, six potato, seven potato, more.

Avalanche in seven.

Oliver: With the Sharks' history of early playoff chokes, you want to immediately assume another early exit is on its way. But I'm gonna go out on a limb and say they make a statement in the first round and quickly dispatch of the Avs.

Sharks in five.

Short: The San Jose Sharks will not win the Stanley Cup this season. Not when Joe Thornton is their No. 1 centre (check his playoff stats vs his regular-season numbers). And he wasn't even close to being a factor in the Olympic Games. But it won't take much for the Sharks to get by the Avalanche.

Sharks in four.

Chicago Blackhawks (2)-Nashville Predators (7)

Browne: Sure hope the Blackhawks aren't looking too far ahead. I'm concerned about Chicago's goaltending, but even average goalkeeping should get them past the Preds.

Blackhawks in four.

McCarthy: In this case, the Predators are well-named; Nashville is a team lurking in the playoff shadows waiting to surprise the Blackhawks (and many others).

Predators in seven.

Short: The Hawks may have perhaps the most exciting, young team in the league. But the Preds quietly tallied 100 points this year with their top scorer, Patric Hornqvist, totalling a measly 51 points. And some guy named Pekka Rinne had 32 wins in net. Call it a hunch, but this is my upset pick.

Predators in seven.

Morrissey: Duck, duck, duck, duck duck, goose.

Chicago will take this one easily.

Blackhawks in five.

Oliver: With goaltenders Pekka Rinne for the Preds and Anti Niemi for Hawks, this series is very much anyone's guess. But ultimately, I think Chicago's scoring punch will be too much for Nashville.

Blackhawks in six.

Vancouver Canucks (3)-Los Angeles Kings (6)

Browne: I'm really tempted to pick the Kings in an upset. Vancouver has never impressed me. The Bobbsey Twins (aka Sedins) didn't do a whole lot for Sweden in the Olympics and Roberto Luongo is overrated. Kings will push the Canucks to the limit.

Canucks in seven.

McCarthy: Everyone looks at the Sedins and Luongo when discussing Vancouver, but it's players like Bieksa, Kesler Samuelsson and Burrows who'll be the difference in this one.

Canucks in six.

Morrissey: Ink-a-bink, A bottle of ink

Cork fell out and you stink

My mother told me to pick the very best one and

You are not it

Canucks in six.

Oliver: Gold medal or not, I'm not convince Roberto Luongo is the goaltender people make him out to be. He's inconsistent and thrown off his game far too easily. When last they met on April 1, the Kings burned him for eight goals. Biggest upset in the West, regardless of how good the Sedins were this year.

Kings in seven.

Short: Perhaps Canada's best chance for a Cup- and what a longshot that is - the problem with the Canucks is Roberto Luongo.You just don't know what you're getting. The Kings have a fine young team, but young Jonathan Quick is untested. Would like to see L.A. advance, because I love watching Drew Doughty play, but it won't happen this spring.

Canucks in six.

Phoenix Coyotes (4)-Detroit Red Wings (5)

Browne: The Red Wings' veterans are just too good for a rising Phoenix team this time around. If Detroit's goaltending is for real, this should be a short series.

Red Wings in five.

McCarthy: Given how their season started, the Red Wings couldn't have gotten a better first-round matchup. This could be the start of another long run by Detroit.

Red Wings in four.

Morrissey: My mother and your mother were hanging up clothes,

My mother punched your mother right in the nose.

What color was the blood? RED!

Red Wings in five.

Oliver: You have to feel bad for the Coyotes. After all that off-season turmoil, they turn in a banner year only to draw one of the hottest - and most playoff savvy - teams in the first round. Only chance for Phoenix is if Detroit's Jimmy Howard can't handle the playoff pressure.

Red Wings in six.

Short: Talk about gearing up for the post-season. These old dogs are destined for another Cup Finals appearance after going 8-1-1 in their 10 games. Agreed, Jimmy Howard's a rookie and predicting a team to reach the top two with a first-year goalie is, if nothing else, bold. But consider this: the Wings have won Stanley Cups before with questionable goaltending. Only problem is if Nick Lidstrom can still log a lot of minutes at 39.

Wings in four.

Organizations: Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals Pittsburgh Penguins Philadelphia Flyers The Telegram San Jose Sharks Vancouver Canucks Chicago Blackhawks Detroit Red Wings New Jersey Devils Colorado Avalanche Buffalo Sabres Nashville Predators NHL Ottawa Senators Phoenix Coyotes Los Angeles Kings

Geographic location: Boston, Washington, Jersey Pittsburgh Columbus Montreal Chicago Parise Ottawa Detroit Nashville Vancouver Phoenix San Jose Denver Sweden Canada

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Recent comments

  • B
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    It was nice to retire as champ three years ago (after back-to-back titles!)

    I always love reading these predictions. Keep them posted online through all the rounds!!

    Down with the Senators!

  • hockeyfan9087
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    looks like I'm the only one that thinks Phoenix will put out Detroit... people are only ranting and raving for Detroit to win because they have done so in the pass... Phoenix is just too good this year and lest not forget Detroit nearly loss out in obtaining a playoff spot

  • B
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    It was nice to retire as champ three years ago (after back-to-back titles!)

    I always love reading these predictions. Keep them posted online through all the rounds!!

    Down with the Senators!

  • hockeyfan9087
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    looks like I'm the only one that thinks Phoenix will put out Detroit... people are only ranting and raving for Detroit to win because they have done so in the pass... Phoenix is just too good this year and lest not forget Detroit nearly loss out in obtaining a playoff spot