The Flyers edged out the Rangers Sunday in a game between teams fighting for the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, the back end of a home-and-home set that marked arguably the first and last instance of regular-season drama in the NHL. But after the marathon of often meaningless games, we're finally to the playoffs, where the handshake lines get long, the beards longer and the overtimes, if we're lucky, longest of all.

So is the NHL setting itself up for a marketing disaster?

The Olympics were great because we got the Canada-USA final everyone on this side of the Atlantic wanted. No matter how good a game it might have been, Finland-Czech Republic wouldn't have generated much buzz. So it is with the potential for a rematch between the Capitals and Penguins in the East.

On paper, Alex Ovechkin's top-seeded Caps and Sidney Crosby's fourth-seeded Penguins should meet in the second round ... except the NHL resets the pairings after each round of the playoffs, meaning even if the Penguins and Caps both win in the first round, they only meet in the second round if there are no other upsets. And at least for casual fans, Ovechkin vs. Crosby might be a bigger draw than even Lord Stanley's Cup. Pick winners.

Sam (State College)

Last year is over, and this pens team is not the same as last year. But am I the only one not freaking out? Obviously I would have loved my pens to beat nj/was, but the playoffs are a whole different story. I not saying the pens don't have concerns, but am I wrong for not jumping off a bridge like many others?

Pierre LeBrun
Pierre LeBrun

They have the knowledge of winning a championship and those Cup rings are very important. They bring calm and confidence to a dressing room come playoff time. But I still think Washington is the team to beat this year. Full transcript

Tim (Guam, Western Pacific Ocean)

Can the Caps actually adopt and play a defensive game come the playoffs? The scoring in buckets theory really isn't playoff hockey for most successful Cup teams.

Scott Burnside
Scott Burnside

Tim: Agreed that it's been a long time since a team played a run and gun style and won a Cup (okay, how about the Oilers anyone?), but I also think the Caps' defensive deficiencies have been a bit overstated. The first round will be a good barometer, I think, as they should cruise through whichever team they face, but it will give a good indication of whether they can tighten up when needed. I suspect they will. Full transcript

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