Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: Ducks are Team to Beat
Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: Ducks are Team to Beat

This season, no Canadian teams made the playoffs, while Boston missed the postseason for second straight year. Los Angeles, the Stanley Cup winner two years ago, returns to the playoffs after missing the postseason last year. The reigning champ, Chicago, returns to aim for its fourth Cup in seven years.

First-round matchups are grouped by divisional brackets, making it easier to show the conference semifinals.

Go here for player rankings.

EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS

Washington vs. Philadelphia

Capitals
Expectations were high coming into the season for Washington after its strong offseason. After a slow start, the Capitals really hit their stride in December and never looked back, waltzing to the top seed in the East and the President's Trophy. Washington seemingly has it all. Offense galore, a solid enough defense and strong netminding led the Capitals to 120 points. 

Offense:
Alexander Ovechkin had a slow start for him but picked it to finish with 50 goals for the third straight season. Another ho-hum 70 point season for Nicklas Backstrom while T.J. Oshie, an offseason acquisition, rallied to finish with 15 goals – including 11 on the PP. But Washington was propelled by the play of Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson, who gave Washington three top centers along with Backstrom, though Johansson can play second line left wing. Second-line right wing Justin Williams was brought in to help the Capitals get over the hurdle of a Game 7 and get past the first round. Mike Richards, the fourth-line center, gives

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jan Levine
Levine covers baseball and hockey for RotoWire. He is responsible for the weekly NL FAAB column for baseball and the Barometer for hockey. In addition to his column writing, he is master of the NHL cheat sheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets and Rangers.
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