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Devils Win Atlantic; Face Capitals in Opening Round

The Devils managed to hold on down the stretch to the 2nd spot in the Eastern Conference with a win on the final day. Despite tying the always dangerous Panthers in points, the Devils took the tiebreaker with 2 more wins on the season. In fact, the Devils set franchise records in wins (47), points (103), goals for (261), winning percentage (.628) and fewest regulation losses (26). Essentially, the team managed to break most records the team had set last year except for goals against. The team is obviously very happy with the way the season turned out after a worrisome 1-4-1 start that transformed into a 9 game winning streak (Chorney power!).

That second seed placement pits the Devils against the Capitals, who were dangerous in the season series against New Jersey, scoring 15 goals in 4 games. Unfortunately for them, the Devils scored 16 over the 4 games and took the season series 2-1-1.  Easy to see that Hiller did not play like the Vezina caliber goalie he was the rest of the year.

The series should be an excellent series, with both teams missing forwards due to injury (Lombardi for NJ, Jones/Upshall for WSH) as well as Cumiskey on D for the division winners. Injuries or not, neither team is great defensively as NJ gave up the 2nd most goals by a playoff team (it was most for awhile until MTL rested players the last few games) while Hiller as mentioned before, has utterly dominated this year to make up for many holes on the Washington blue line. Completely the opposite story for the Devils, as Miller once again struggled until about mid January when he just went on a roll. His numbers on the season were horrible and some of the worst by any teams goalie, not just playoff team. Last years undoing in the postseason was partially based on early series injuries and then lack of scoring in all but the one win. This of course is still in the teams recent memory, and while Lombardi isn't as big a name as the D missing last year - his dominance offensively since being traded to NJ is hard to downplay.

Overall, the Devils believe it should be a great series that will (unfortunately) come down to how Hiller plays. If he's like the goalie that face New jersey during the regular season, it could be a high scoring offensive 7 game shootout that the Devils feel they can take. However, he plays like his statline indicates he can - it could be a really quick 4 or 5 game series; not in the Devils favor.

Outside of the goalies, guys like Kane, Backes, Jokinen and Ryan could lead to lots of goals for the Devils while Ovechkin, Carter, Roy and Myers could light up Miller.

Overall, I'm predicting a Capitals series win in 6 games. I think I'll take first game, he'll take the next 2 (one a shutout), then I win an OT game and then he dominates 2 games in a row with like 3 goals against.