Well get to a Wild Avs preview later today, but first I thought we'd talk about the Eastern Conference.

#1 Montréal vs #8 Boston:
Is there a more anonymous team in the world that has the cachet of Les Habs? I don't think there is. Usually teams with great success are the most hated (see Duke, New York Yankees) but in this case I don't know many people who really hate the Canadiens. Hockey hate is saved for the likes of the Maple Leafs. Saku Kiovu is still a very likable player and Guy Carbenneau was a likable player before turingin into a likable coach.

Boston could be a good choice with behemoth Zdeno Chara on the Blue Line and Patrice Bergeron returning from his serious concussion, but cheering for yet another Boston sports team do well is really incomprehensible to me. I'll be cheering on Les Habs.
Blogs to watch: Montréal:Four Habs Fans Boston: Ghosts of the Garden

#2 Pittsburgh vs #7 Ottawa: Frankly I don't really care. I want to cheer against Pittsburgh, but not until the second round. Ottawa had their chance last season and lost to the Ducks, which inflated Brian Burke's already gargantuan ego so that's a minus on them. We all know the networks are cheering for the Penguins, and if they win you'll get PLENTY of chances to see them. I think networks just love themselves some Conk. I am trying to figure something out here, but frankly all I can work up is indifference on this one. We'll go with Pittsburgh, just because A second round Ovechkin/Crosby matchup would actually get national outlets to start covering hockey.
Blogs to Watch: Pittsburgh: Pens Blog Ottawa: Sens Army

#3 Washington Capitals vs #6 Philadelphia Flyers This one is easy, the likable team that overcame a bad start to make the playoffs in the last game of the season by a good coach, and the funnest player in hockey. I usually don't buy into the hype, but even watching the Caps defeat the Panthers to win the SE division made me like Alexander Ovechkin. Watching Ovechkin's mixture of intensity and unabashed joy is about as good as it gets in sports. It's a blend of the raw innocence of mites with the skill and intensity of the pros. Sorry Flyers fans, but there's no way I can cheer against that.
Blogs to watch Washington: A view from the Cheap Seats Philly: Flyers Center

#4 New Jersey Devils vs #5 New York Rangers:

The New York Rangers are one of the most enigmatic teams to me. they sport guys who I really like, some of my favorite non-Avs out there: Chris Drury, Henrik Lundqvist, and some other players I really like. Michael Rozsival, Scott Gomez, Marc Staal, and Nigel Dawes. they also feature some of the most vile players in hockey as well. Jaromir Jagr, Brenden Shanahan , Colton Orr, Ryan Hollweg and of course Sean Avery. I can see people going either way on this team. The Devils feature the same players as always, Martin Brodeur, John Madden, Jay Pandolfo, Patrick Elias, Jaime Langenbrunner, and of course Crazy Lou Lamorillo. At this point I think everyone's mind is made up on them. Keep an eye on Paul Martin and Zach Parise, who should be fixtures on the US team for years to come.
For me my platonic love for Drury and Lundqvist trumps Avery's bastardness and Jagr's constant pouting (I also did some guest blogging over on the Dark Ranger which has let me enjoy the Rangers a little this season as well. Go Rangers
Blogs to Watch NJ Devils: 2 man advantage NY Rangers: The Dark Ranger