NHL playoffs

First-round series previews

Complete series-by-series schedules

East

No. 1 Washington vs.
No. 8 New York Rangers

Complete preview

No. 2 Philadelphia vs.
No. 7 Buffalo

Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger is confident he'll play despite an injury to his right hand that has limited him since mid-March. The Flyers were 16-9-7 without him. The Sabres have become grittier since last year's playoff ouster by Boston. Forwards Cody McCormick (142 penalty minutes) and Paul Gaustad (101) lead the way, and their power play finished ninth in the NHL, converting 19.4 percent of its chances. Defenseman Andrej Sekera, who finished with a career-high 29 points in 76 games, practiced Tuesday after missing the past two games because of an upper-body injury.

No. 3 Boston vs.
No. 6 Montreal

This will be the 33rd time the teams have met in the playoffs and the third in four years. Spicing up the already hot Original Six matchup is bad blood created when Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara seriously injured Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty with a hard check that knocked Pacioretty into a padded stanchion supporting a glass partition between the benches. The Bruins will be looking to erase memories of last year, when they blew a 3-0 series lead to Philadelphia in the second round and a 3-0 lead in Game 7 at home.

No. 4 Pittsburgh vs.
No. 5 Tampa Bay

For a change, the Penguins enter a playoff series with the lesser-known players. The Lightning's Steven Stamkos was second in the league in goals, Martin St. Louis was second in points, and Vincent Lecavalier, a former No. 1 overall pick, finished his season with 14 points in the last 11 games. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, veered from recent tradition after Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (knee) were lost for most of the season's final half. The Penguins turned to a league-best penalty kill (86.1 percent), and had the No. 3 goals-against average (2.39) in the East.

By Matt Rennie - The Washington Post. Published April 13, 2011.