EASTERN CON­FER­ENCE

Los Angeles Times - - STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS PREVIEW -

N.Y. RANGERS 53-22-7, 113

Sea­son se­ries: Rangers, 3-0-1

PITTS­BURGH 43-27-12, 98

Power play: Rangers 16.8% (21st); Pen­guins 19.3% (10th).

Penalty killing: Rangers 84.3% (sixth); Pen­guins 84.4% (third).

Top scor­ers: Rangers, Rick Nash 42-27—69; Pen­guins, Sid­ney Crosby 28-56—84.

Out­look: The Rangers — who lost last sea­son’s Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal to the Kings in five games — didn’t miss a beat while goalie Hen­rik Lundqvist (2.25, .922) re­cov­ered from a vas­cu­lar in­jury, and they eas­ily se­cured the over­all No. 1 seed. De­fense­man Kevin Klein (bro­ken arm) might re­turn to bol­ster a deep corps. Left wing Nash (ca­reer-high 42 goals) helped the team to a leaguebest +60 goal dif­fer­en­tial. The Pen­guins likely will be with­out vi­tal de­fense­man Kris Le­tang (con­cus­sion). They nearly slipped out of a play­off spot by los­ing seven of their last 10 games. Goalie Marc-An­dre Fleury (2.32, .920) had an ex­cep­tional sea­son, but his play­off his­tory is spotty.

Pick: Rangers in five. Gm 1 Thurs­day at New York, 4 Gm 2 Satur­day at New York, 5 Gm 3 Mon­day at Pitts­burgh, 4 Gm 4 April 22 at Pitts­burgh, 4 Gm 5 April 24 at New York, TBD Gm 6 April 26 at Pitts­burgh, TBD Gm 7 April 28 at New York, TBD

Games 5-7 if nec­es­sary; times PDT

MON­TREAL 50-22-10, 110

Sea­son se­ries: Ottawa, 3-1

OTTAWA 43-26-13, 99

Power play: Cana­di­ens 16.5% (23rd); Sen­a­tors 16.8% (22nd).

Penalty killing: Cana­di­ens 83.7% (sev­enth); Sen­a­tors 82.9% (11th).

Top scor­ers: Cana­di­ens, Max Pa­cioretty 37-30—67; Sen­a­tors, Erik Karls­son 21-45—66.

Out­look: Mon­treal goalie Carey Price (1.96, .933, 44 wins) shared the Jen­nings Tro­phy (team al­low­ing fewest goals) and likely will add the Hart (MVP) and Vez­ina (top goalie). But against Ottawa he was 1-1 with a 3.02 goals-against av­er­age and .887 save per­cent­age. Team scor­ing leader Pa­cioretty, the NHL’s plus/mi­nus leader at +38, is ques­tion­able be­cause of an up­per-body in­jury. Ottawa was 14 points out of a play­off spot in early Fe­bru­ary but went on a 23-4-4 roll. Goalie An­drew “Ham­bur­glar” Ham­mond (1.79, .941 in 24 games) has been as­ton­ish­ing, but he has no NHL play­off ex­pe­ri­ence.

Pick: Price will make dif­fer­ence. Cana­di­ens in seven. Gm 1 Wed. at Mon­treal, 4 Gm 2 Fri. at Mon­treal, 4 Gm 3 Sun. at Ottawa, 4 Gm 4 April 22 at Ottawa, 4 Gm 5 April 24 at Mon­treal, TBD Gm 6 April 26 at Ottawa, TBD Gm 7 April 28 at Mon­treal, TBD

Games 5-7 if nec­es­sary; times PDT

WASH­ING­TON 45-26-11, 101

Sea­son se­ries: Wash., 2-0-2

N.Y. IS­LAN­DERS 47-28-7, 101

Power play: Cap­i­tals 25.3% (first); Is­lan­ders 18.7% (16th).

Penalty killing: Cap­i­tals 81.2% (14th); Is­lan­ders 78% (26th).

Top scor­ers: Cap­i­tals, Alex Ovechkin 53-28—81; Is­lan­ders, John Tavares 38-48—86.

Out­look: Ovechkin scored 25 of his league-lead­ing 53 goals on the power play, which could do se­ri­ous dam­age against the Is­lan­ders’ weak penalty killing. Cen­ter Nick­las Back­strom went from -20 de­fen­sively last sea­son to +5, with a league-high 60 as­sists. A key will be how goalie Braden Holtby (2.22, .923) holds up af­ter mak­ing a league­lead­ing 73 regular-sea­son ap­pear­ances. The Is­lan­ders sagged late, go­ing 4-8-3 in last 15 and los­ing home-ice ad­van­tage in their fi­nal sea­son at Nas­sau Coli­seum. Goalie Jaroslav Halak, fifth in the NHL with 38 wins, solved a long­stand­ing prob­lem. Cen­ter Tavares fin­ished sec­ond in the scor­ing race.

Pick: Cap­i­tals in six. Gm 1 Wed. at Wash­ing­ton, 4 Gm 2 Fri­day at Wash­ing­ton, 4 Gm 3 Sun­day at New York, 9 a.m. Gm 4 April 21 at New York, 4:30 Gm 5 April 23 at Wash., TBD Gm 6 April 25 at New York, TBD Gm 7 April 27 at Wash., TBD

Games 5-7 if nec­es­sary; times PDT

TAMPA BAY 50-24-8, 108

Sea­son se­ries: Tampa Bay, 3-1

DETROIT 43-25-14, 100

Power play: Light­ning 18.8% (14th); Red Wings 23.7% (sec­ond).

Penalty killing: Light­ning 83.7% (ninth); Red Wings 80.9% (17th).

Top scor­ers: Light­ning, Steven Stamkos 43-29—72; Red Wings, Hen­rik Zet­ter­berg 17-49—66.

Out­look: The Light­ning led the NHL in goals (262) and home wins (32) while set­ting club records for wins and points. Stamkos is the mar­quee player, but watch sec­ond-line cen­ter Tyler John­son, un­drafted mainly be­cause he’s only 5-foot-9 but enor­mously tal­ented and pro­duc­tive along­side Nikita Kucherov and On­drej Palat. Detroit bat­tled in­juries to fin­ish third in the At­lantic Di­vi­sion and make its 24th straight play­off ap­pear­ance. Goal­tend­ing is an is­sue, and it looks like rookie Petr Mrazek will start in­stead of fal­ter­ing vet­eran Jimmy Howard. Tampa Bay, with a healthy Ben Bishop in goal, ap­pears deeper.

Pick: Light­ning in six. Gm 1 Thu. at Tampa Bay, 4:30 Gm 2 Sat. at Tampa Bay, noon Gm 3 April 21 at Detroit, 4 Gm 4 April 23 at Detroit, 4 Gm 5 April 25 at Tampa Bay, TBD Gm 6 April 27 at Detroit, TBD Gm 7 April 29 at Tampa Bay, TBD

Games 5-7 if nec­es­sary; times PDT

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