(2) ANAHEIM VS. (7) DETROIT
Records: Ducks 30-12-6, 66 points; Red Wings 24-16-8, 56 points.
Season series: Detroit 2-1-0.
The skinny: Neither team scored in bunches, at least relatively speaking. Anaheim was eighth in the NHL in goals per game (2.79), and Detroit was 20th (2.54). Anaheim was 11th in goals against (2.4), while Detroit was fifth (2.27). Still, the Ducks have a depth of firepower, with Ryan Getzlaf (15-34—49), Corey Perry (15-21—36) and Bobby Ryan (11-19—30) on one line and Teemu Selanne (12-12—24), Nick Bonino (5-8—13) and Kyle Palmieri (10-11—21) on another. And don’t forget about Saku Koivu. Ducks goalies Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth each had 15 wins. The Red Wings made it into the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive time by winning their final four games by a combined score of 15-3. Detroit is led by C Pavel Datsyuk (15-34—49) and LW Henrik Zetterberg (11-37—48). But, not being the high-scoring bunch of the past, Detroit will lean on G Jimmy Howard, who had 21 wins, a .923 save percentage and a 2.13 GAA.
(3) VANCOUVER VS. (6) SAN JOSE
Records: Canucks 26-15-7, 59 points; Sharks 25-16-7, 57 points.
Season series: San Jose 3-0-0; Vancouver 0-2-1.
The skinny: The Canucks were division champs for the fifth time in six seasons despite finishing 19th in the league in scoring (2.54 goals per game). San Jose proved nearly unbeatable at home despite scoring only 2.42 goals per game. Get the feeling this might be a defensive battle between two teams in the top 10 in fewest goals allowed? Henrik Sedin (11-34—45) and brother Daniel Sedin (12-28—40) led the Canucks in scoring, and Alex Burrows led the team with 13 goals. G Cory Schneider has emerged as the leader, going 17-9-4 with a .927 save percentage and 2.11 GAA, but his status for the opener is uncertain. The Sharks lost at home in regulation only twice but were only 8-14-2 on the road. In the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, San Jose is led by C Joe Thornton (7-33—40), C Logan Couture (21-16—37), LW Patrick Marleau (17-14—31) and C Joe Pavelski (16-15—31). G Antti Niemi finished tied for the league lead with 24 wins and was seventh in save percentage (.924).
(4) ST. LOUIS VS. (5) LOS ANGELES
Records: Blues 29-17-2, 60 points; Kings 27-16-5, 59 points.
Season series: Los Angeles 3-0-0.
The skinny: St. Louis surged into the playoffs with an 11-2 April, earning a first-round series against a Kings team they have had trouble beating. The Kings swept the Blues in the conference semifinals last season and were 3-0-0 vs. the Blues this season. In all, L.A. has won eight consecutive vs. St. Louis. Blues G Brian Elliott started slow but finished 14-8-1; he allowed 16 goals in the final 13 games. RW Chris Stewart (18-18—36) led the Blues in goals and points, while C Patrik Berglund (17-8—25) added scoring depth. The late additions of defensemen Jordan Leopold and Jay Bouwmeester stabilized the Blues blueline. The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings again will rely on G Jonathan Quick, the MVP of last year’s playoffs. It wasn’t until late in this season that Quick, who had offseason back surgery, returned to form. But he appears set. L.A. is led by C Anze Kopitar (10-32—42), RW Justin Williams (11-22—33) and C Jeff Carter (26-7—33).
Michael Russo’s predictions
|Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon||4||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Samardzija||1|
|St. Louis - M. Wacha||6:05 PM|
|Washington - G. Gonzalez|
|Milwaukee - K. Lohse||6:05 PM|
|Pittsburgh - C. Morton|
|Toronto - D. Hutchison||6:05 PM|
|Cleveland - J. Masterson|
|LA Angels - J. Weaver||6:08 PM|
|Detroit - D. Smyly|
|Atlanta - A. Harang||6:10 PM|
|NY Mets - J. Niese|
|Baltimore - C. Tillman||6:10 PM|
|Boston - J. Lackey|
|NY Yankees - H. Kuroda||6:10 PM|
|Tampa Bay - E. Bedard|
|Seattle - C. Young||6:10 PM|
|Miami - N. Eovaldi|
|Chicago WSox - F. Paulino||7:05 PM|
|Texas - M. Perez|
|Minnesota - R. Nolasco||7:10 PM|
|Kansas City - J. Vargas|
|Philadelphia - J. Pettibone||7:40 PM|
|Colorado - T. Chatwood|
|Houston - J. Cosart||9:05 PM|
|Oakland - S. Gray|
|San Francisco - M. Cain||9:10 PM|
|San Diego - T. Ross|
|Arizona - W. Miley||9:10 PM|
|Los Angeles - Z. Greinke|
Poll: Can the Wild rally to win its playoff series against Colorado?