Eastern Conference
[1] Washington vs. [8] Montreal

Outlook: Alex Ovechkin and his star-studded supporting cast finished 33 points ahead of Montreal, scored 103 more goals and lost only 15 games in regulation all season. The skidding Canadiens' only hope is a second-ranked power play and that goalie Jaroslav Halak (tied for fourth-ranked .924 save percentage) can rebound from three straight losses to out-of-contention teams.

Tarik's prediction: Capitals in 5.

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[2] New Jersey vs. [7] Philadelphia

Outlook: Martin Brodeur remains as dominant as ever, posting the most wins (45) and third-best goals against average (2.24) for the Devils, whose offense features Ilya Kovalchuk (10 goals, 27 points in 27 games since being traded from Atlanta). But after playing a league-most 77 games in net, how much does Brodeur, 37, have left? Also, Chris Pronger and the Flyers won five of the six regular season meetings.

Tarik's prediction: Flyers in 7.

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[3] Buffalo vs. [6] Boston

Outlook: If you're looking for offense, you're not finding it here. The Bruins, minus center Marc Savard (concussion), finished last in goals (196) and ranked 23rd on the power play (16.6 percent). Meanwhile, Boston goalie Tuukka Rask (league-leading 1.97 goals against and .931 save percentage) is as good as any netminder except - wait for it - Buffalo's Ryan Miller (2.22 goals against, .929 save percentage).

Tarik's prediction: Sabres in 6.

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[4] Pittsburgh vs. [5] Ottawa

Outlook: Sidney Crosby scored a career-best 51 goals, but Evgeni Malkin struggled with illness and injury and defending champion Pittsburgh went 0-4 vs. the Capitals and 0-6 vs. the Devils. The Senators, meantime, were the NHLís streakiest team, losing five straight, then winning 11 in a row before losing five straight, then winning six in a row. Which Senators will show up?

Tarik's prediction: Penguins in 7.

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Western Conference
[1] San Jose vs. [8] Colorado

Outlook: This spring is about redemption for Joe Thornton (12 goals in 76 career postseason games), goalie Evgeni Nabokov and the Sharks, who were shocked by the Ducks last season after winning the Presidents' Trophy. Rookie Coach Joe Sacco and the youthful Avalanche rallied from a last place finish in 2008-09, but their feel-good story ends here.

Tarik's prediction: Sharks in 5.

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[2] Chicago vs. [7] Nashville

Outlook: With a forward corps featuring Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and a blue line boasting Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, the Blackhawks are primed for a deep run. Rookie goalie Antti Niemi (2.25 goals against average) has been good, but Chicago also has allowed the fewest shots (25.1). Nashville has defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter but not much else to get excited about.

Tarik's prediction: Blackhawks in 5.

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[3] Vancouver vs. [6] Los Angeles

Outlook: The Canucks are led by Art Ross Trophy-winning center Henrik Sedin (29 goals, 83 assists), but goalie Roberto Luongo hasnít been his usual stellar self since claiming gold at the Olympics, losing six of his final 10 decisions and raising concerns. Drew Doughty (59 points), Anze Kopitar (81 points) and the deceptively deep Kings are in the playoffs for the first time in eight years but arenít quite ready to advance.

Tarik's prediction: Canucks in 7.

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[4] Phoenix vs. [5] Detroit

Outlook: The Coyotes' reward for blocking out bankruptcy distractions and rumors of relocation? A veteran Red Wings' team that went a league-best 16-3-2 after the Olympic break. Coach of the year favorite Dave Tippett and the Coyotes are about to get flattened by rookie of the year candidate Jimmy Howard (2.26 goals against) and the Winged Wheel.

Tarik's prediction: Red Wings in 6.

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Analysis by Tarik El-Bashir

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