Let me start by saying...
I hope the Pens win tonight...get Crosby back at some point in round 2...and maybe even Malkin...and go on to win their 4th cup. Given everything they have gone through this year, that would be awesome.
OK...now that I got that out of the way...
Realistically speaking...I don't think all 4 of those things can happen because I think step 1 is not in the cards for our flightless birds (STILL HOPING I AM WRONG).
Assuming the Pens bow out tonight...and the Bruins (minus Lucic?) fend off the Habs tonight, the next round of the playoffs would match up like this.
Capitals vs Bolts
Flyers vs Bruins
Canucks vs Preds
Sharks vs Wings
With all due respect to the Bolts, Bruins, Preds and Wings, I think the conference finals that create the best match-ups and interest are:
Caps vs Flyers
Canucks vs Sharks
Not only were these the tops teams in their conferences over the course of the season, they also present a chance at the probably the best conference finals we have seen in some time...on both sides.
The other thing it presents is a 75% chance of a team that has never won the cup before, raising the hardware...and with the Flyers...a team that hasn't done it in over 35 years.
I think, like the Flyers and Hawks last year, a finals scenario where there are teams that have a long time since the last cup or have never won it, creates the best competition, drama and (probably) television ratings.
With these four teams you obviously have great story lines. In the WEST, you have the two teams that have been playoff underachievers, clashing for the right to play for the cup. In the EAST you have Ovie and the Caps, looking for the elusive championship to certify their gr"8"ness and the Flyers, looking to win a cup after a long dry spell.
I really can't imagine a better scenario (of the ones that are minus the Pens).
BTW...it looks like the Mystery of the Winter Classic is getting debunked a bit this year.
At least one of the two streaks will be broken this year...
So far, the team winning the Winter Classic has gone on to LOSE in the cup finals...but has managed to WIN the cup the NEXT year.
According to that, the Flyers are due for a Cup this year.
But that would mean the Capitals would miss the Cup finals and end that part of the streak.
Of course, there are many other scenarios...including one where the Caps go to the finals and win...ending BOTH streaks.
But...I am getting WAY ahead of myself now...