NHL playoff series previews and predictions

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 30, 2013 - 9:36 AM

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) skates in second period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Pittsburgh Saturday, April 27, 2013. The Penguins won 8-3. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(1) PITTSBURGH VS. (8) New York ISLANDERS

Records: Penguins 36-12-0, 72 points; Islanders 24-17-7, 55 points.

Season series: Penguins won 4-1.

The skinny: Even with injuries the Penguins — first-round losers the past two years — went 23-4 at the finish. And now they’re getting healthier, with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal back. The big question is whether Sidney Crosby will return from a broken jaw. The Penguins are loaded up front, with scoring depth all down the lineup , augmented by late additions Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla, who had goals in four of his past six games. Former Wild winger Pascal Dupuis was a league-best plus-31 and native Minnesotan Paul Martin had his best per-game point production (.64). Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury and Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov each had 23 victories. The Islanders, in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, haven’t won a playoff series since 1993. C John Tavares (28-19—47) and LW Matt Moulson (15-29—44) carry the offensive load while 37-year-old Nabokov (23-11-7) seems ageless. The Islanders were 14-6-4 on the road, third-best in the East.

(2) MONTREAL VS. (7) OTTAWA

Records: Canadiens 29-14-5, 63 points; Senators 25-17-6, 56 points

Season series: Both teams were 2-1-1.

The skinny: The Canadiens started hot but limped home, losing six of their past 10 games and giving up 29 goals in the six losses. Still, they went from last place in the Eastern Conference a year ago to Northeast Division champs with a combination of good defense and balanced scoring. LW Max Pacioretty (15-24—39) and D P.K. Subban (11-27—38) lead a lineup that had eight players with at least 10 goals but nobody with more than 39 points. G Carey Price has to rebound from a rocky finish. The Senators fought through a number of injuries to qualify for the playoffs. The worst was defenseman Erik Karlsson’s torn Achilles tendon. The Senators haven’t reached the second round since 2006, but Karlsson’s late return should be a boost. C Kyle Turris (12-17—29) leads a balanced Ottawa attack. But the key is G Craig Anderson, who came back from a mid-season injury to lead the NHL with a 1.69 goals-against average. Ottawa finished second in goals against (2.08).

(3) WASHINGtON VS. (6) N.Y. RANGERS

Records: Capitals 27-18-3, 57 points; Rangers 26-18-4, 56 points.

Season series: Rangers 2-0-1, Washington 1-2-0.

The skinny: This rematch of last year’s seven-game conference semifinals can be summed up in a word: Ovechkin. Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin started slowly — with only two goals in the first 10 games — but finished in a rush. His NHL-record 14 April goals gave him 32 for the season, earning his third Rocket Richard Trophy, and helped the Capitals go 11-1-1 in the month, surging to their fifth division title in six years. Washington moved from 14th in the East to third in April. C Mike Ribeiro had 13 goals and 49 points and Ovechkin linemate Nicklas Backstrom had 48 points. G Braden Holtby had a career-high 23 victories. The Rangers — who reached the conference finals last season — also are hot, having gone 10-3-1 in April. C Derek Stepan of Hastings had a team-high 44 points, and LW Rick Nash had two goals in the season finale to reach 20 for the ninth consecutive season. G Henrik Lundqvist tied for first in the league with 24 wins, was fifth with a .926 save percentage and seventh with a 2.05 GAA. The status of injured Rangers Marc Staal, Brian Boyle and Ryane Clowe is key.

(4) BOSTON VS. (5) TORONTO

Records: Bruins 28-14-6, 62 points; Maple Leafs 25-17-5, 57 points.

Season series: Boston 3-1-0, Toronto 1-2-1.

The skinny: Boston won only three of its final 10 games, blowing a shot at the No. 2. But this matchup of Original Six teams and conference foes should perk things up; it is the first time in 40 years these teams have met in the playoffs. Boston had six players with 10 or more goals, led by LW Brad Marchand (18-18—36) and C Tyler Seguin (16-16—32). G Tuukka Rask finished third with a .929 save percentage for Boston, which was third overall in goals against (2.21). The Maple Leafs are in the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. Former Gopher Phil Kessel led the Leafs and was eighth in the NHL with 52 points (20-32—52); he has 15 points in 15 career playoff games. C Nazem Kadri and LW James van Riemsdyk each had 18 goals. But a key will be the play of G James Reimer, who finished with 19 wins despite a 2.46 GAA.

 

 

 

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(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

EASTERN CONFERENCE

FIRST ROUND

Penguins over Islanders in five

Senators over Canadiens in six

Rangers over Capitals in seven

Bruins over Maple Leafs in six

SECOND ROUND

Penguins over Senators in six

Rangers over Bruins in seven

CONFERENCE FINAL

Penguins over Rangers in six

WESTERN CONFERENCE

FIRST ROUND

Blackhawks over Wild in five

Red Wings over Ducks in six

Sharks over Canucks in six

Kings over Blues in seven

SECOND ROUND

Blackhawks over Red Wings in five

Sharks over Kings in seven

CONFERENCE FINAL

Blackhawks over Sharks in six

STANLEY CUP FINAL

Blackhawks over Penguins in seven









 

  • related content

  • For Wild captain Koivu, 'winning is all that matters'

    Tuesday April 30, 2013

    The intense, focused captain knows there’s no time like the present for him and the Wild to make their mark in the playoffs.

  • Montreal Canadiens' P.K. Subban (76), Max Pacioretty (67), Andrei Markov (79), Brendan Gallagher (11) and David Desharnais (51) celebrate Desharnais' goal on the Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (31), Ron Hainsey (6) and Mark Stuart (5) during third-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Thursday, April 25, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Woods)

  • Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, skates with the puck against the Boston Bruins during the overtime period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, April 27, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

  • Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63), left, collides with Ottawa Senators center Mika Zibanejad (93), right, of Sweden, in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Sunday, April 28, 2013. Senators left wing Jakob Silfverberg, background, skates behind. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf plays during an NHL hockey game against the Phoenix Coyotes in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott deflects a shot during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames, Thursday, April 25, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • The San Jose Sharks' Raffi Torres (13) celebrates his goal with teammates Martin Havlat (9) and Brent Burns (88) against the Dallas Stars in the first period at HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 35 FINAL
Arizona 6
Denver 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Denver 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Portland 7:00 PM
Houston
Utah 7:00 PM
Memphis
Toronto 7:00 PM
Chicago
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Dallas
LA Clippers 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Sacramento 9:30 PM
Golden State
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Washington
Nashville 6:00 PM
Columbus
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Florida
Arizona 9:00 PM
Vancouver
San Jose 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Calgary 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ark-Little Rock 1:00 PM
Bradley
Brown 1:00 PM
Central Conn St
Stetson 1:00 PM
Florida State
Ill-Chicago 1:00 PM
Northwestern
Ohio 1:30 PM
George Washington
Southern Utah 2:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Elon 2:00 PM
Kennesaw St
Dartmouth 3:00 PM
Penn State
Green Bay 3:30 PM
UC Irvine
DePaul 3:30 PM
Colorado
Lewis & Clark 4:00 PM
Portland
SC State 4:30 PM
Abilene Christian
Manhattan 5:00 PM
Fordham
Truett-McConnell 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Citadel 5:00 PM
Michigan State
Miami-Ohio 5:00 PM
Ohio State
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
Purdue
Idaho 5:00 PM
Northern Ky
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Albany
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Alcorn State
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Butler
SE Louisiana 6:00 PM
UCF
Oakland 6:00 PM
Clemson
Florida A&M 6:00 PM
East Carolina
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
IUPU-Ft Wayne 6:00 PM
Illinois State
Norfolk State 6:00 PM
James Madison
Binghamton 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Towson 6:00 PM
Navy
Long Island 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Notre Dame
William & Mary 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Liberty 6:00 PM
Princeton
Delaware 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Colgate 6:00 PM
Syracuse
Kansas 6:00 PM
Temple
Mercer 6:00 PM
Tennessee
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Va Military 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Alabama A&M 6:00 PM
Western Mich
New Orleans 6:05 PM
Indiana
Columbia 6:30 PM
Connecticut
Long Beach State 6:30 PM
St Johns
Wofford 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Southern U 7:00 PM
Baylor
UAB 7:00 PM
Chattanooga
Char Southern 7:00 PM
Colorado State
North Florida 7:00 PM
Iowa
NC Central 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Rice 7:00 PM
Lamar
Central Mich 7:00 PM
McNeese State
Coppin State 7:00 PM
Michigan
Furman 7:00 PM
Minnesota
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Weber State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
Grambling St 7:00 PM
TCU
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Penn 7:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Chicago State 7:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Simpson 7:05 PM
Drake
Tenn Tech 7:05 PM
UMKC
Murray State 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Oral Roberts 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Arkansas
Wisconsin 8:00 PM
California
Coll of Charleston 8:00 PM
LSU
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Marquette
Northern New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
UC Santa Barbara 8:00 PM
Oregon
Miami-Florida 8:00 PM
Providence
Northeastern 8:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Kent State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
UC Davis 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Lewis-Clark State 8:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Walla Walla 8:05 PM
Portland State
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Marshall 9:00 PM
Nevada
Boise State 9:30 PM
Houston
UC Riverside 10:00 PM
San Diego St
Tulane 10:00 PM
Washington
Loyola Marymount 10:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Hawaii
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Holy Cross 78
Temple 59 FINAL
Villanova 64
Georgia Southern 52 2nd Half 7:58
Southern U 44
Xavier 52 2nd Half 5:52
Kennesaw St 52
Eastern Michigan 43 2nd Half 7:56
Michigan 71
Brescia 13 1st Half 7:53
Marshall 44
(21) West Virginia 1:00 PM
Ohio State
UMBC 1:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Cornell 1:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Georgetown
New Hampshire 1:00 PM
Northeastern
Eastern Washington 1:30 PM
Florida
Rice 2:00 PM
Texas Southern
Butler 3:05 PM
Illinois State
UC Davis 4:00 PM
(16) Stanford
Washington St 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Sacramento St 4:00 PM
San Jose St
SIU-Edwardsville 4:30 PM
UMKC
Oakland 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Belmont 6:00 PM
(14) Georgia
George Mason 6:00 PM
Longwood
Kansas 6:05 PM
Creighton
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Kansas State
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Missouri
Hampton 7:00 PM
DePaul
Florida State 7:00 PM
Tulane
Murray State 7:00 PM
Illinois
Fla Gulf Coast 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
BYU 8:00 PM
Utah State
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close