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Mix's Picks: Eastern Conference Final

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets



: As much as my gut tells me to go with the Penguins here, I think we got a clear glimpse of what the Bruins are all about in their second-round series with New York. They're a relentless team that makes smart decisions with the puck and rarely gets into trouble - which will be something to watch closely as they face a team in Pittsburgh that's one of the most opportunistic in the business. Another thing to keep an eye on: the goaltending matchup. Tuukka Rask was tremendous for the Bruins in knocking out the Rangers in five games, while Tomas Vokoun had his good moments and shaky moments in the Penguins' five-game win over Ottawa. If the Bruins' defense can get healthy and back to speed for this series, I like their depth on the back end better than Pittsburgh's...and there's that Zdeno Chara guy.

What I also like about the Bruins (that I think will help them in this series): they do a great job supporting the puck, and with guys like Crosby, Malkin, Neal and Iginla on the other side, managing the game properly is such a huge part of team success. Both clubs are well-coached and disciplined, but I particularly think Claude Julien has done one heck of a job in preparing the Bruins every single night of these playoffs.

When it comes down to prediction time, it's tough to pick against the best player in the world, but in this case I like the make-up of the Bruins better and I'm going with them in seven games.

Be sure to check back at later today for playoff previews featuring Jeff Rimer and Bob McElligott.
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