San Jose Sharks - Good team that dominated the regular season this year. Their home ice record is just scary 32-4-4. All their players are getting healthy at just the right time. Downside? Perennial playoff underachiever.
Boston Bruins- Dominated the East. Had a huge losing streak towards the end, but had enough points that no one could catch them. They have Lucic, who is a beast. And Tim Thomas. Also, ex-Lightning Recchi is on the team. Downside? They have Thomas and they traded away Joe Thornton...you can never get away from that.
Columbus Blue Jackets - First time in the playoffs. Ever. They have Steve Mason. Downside? First time in the playoffs. Ever. And that Mike Commodore money picture.
Chicago Blackhawks - Making an appearance in the playoffs for the first time in forever. Young guys like Toews and Kane. Downside? Very young team. Average age: 26.8 (Khabibulin is bringing up the average), so playoff stubble then.
Montreal Canadiens - Well, according to Four Habs Fans, they don't need more fans. Well, we don't want them either.
Nashville Predators - Pekka Rinne and Jordin Tootoo (say it, it's funny). Music city has a hockey team, that in their 11 years has made the playoffs 4 times. They have only had one coach ever. Downside? Four first round exits from the playoffs.
St. Louis Blues - TJ Oshie. This team looks like it's having fun. Chris Mason is pretty solid in goal. Downside? They will be just happy to MAKE the playoffs and will be happy with their exit that will be given to them by the Sharks/Red Wings.
Vancouver Canucks - Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler. The Sedins. This team went from a 9 game losing streak in January to winning pretty much all of the month of March. They have Roberto Luongo, and he will rob you. Downside? The are streaky, so it depends on which team shows up.
Pittsburgh Penguins - Crosby and Malkin both have over 100 points. Malkin should be MVP. We all saw how Marc-Andre Fleury could turn in up in the playoffs last year. The additions of Guerin and Kunitz. Bylsma has the team on a tear since he took over as HC. Downside? Can they do make it to the Finals again?
*Apologies for posting the Mike Commodore pic, like me, you will never be able to erase that from your memory.