NHL playoffs, capsule previews

  • Updated: April 15, 2014 - 1:10 AM

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Colorado vs. Wild

Records: Avalanche (Central champion) 52-22-8, 112 points; Wild (top wild-card team) 43-27-12, 98 points.

Season series: Colorado won four of five.

The skinny: Under first-year coach Patrick Roy, the Avalanche went from finishing with the second-fewest points in the league last season to a division championship. Young guns Nathan MacKinnon (24 goals), Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog all had more than 60 points. Duchene’s availability is uncertain because of a knee injury. G Semyon Varlamov set a franchise record with 41 wins. … Only four of the 12 Wild forwards who skated in Game 1 vs. Chicago last year will play in this series. RW Jason Pominville (30 goals, 30 assists, 60 points) is the scoring leader. G Ilya Bryzgalov was picked up as insurance at the trade deadline, but now gets the starting nod in a pressure situation.

St. Louis vs. Chicago

Records: Blues (second in Central) 52-23-7, 111 points; Blackhawks (third in Central) 46-21-15, 107 points.

Season series: The Blues won the first three games, Blackhawks the final two.

The skinny: The teams were among the league’s best before late-season slumps landed them here. Still this is only the second opening-round series in playoff history featuring two teams with at least 107 points. The Blues have lost six in a row. Injured St. Louis forwards T.J. Oshie, David Backes and Vladimir Sobotka should return, but can G Ryan Miller shake off a recent slump? … Chicago should get back injured stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane who, along with W Patrick Sharp and D Duncan Keith, make the Hawks tick. The defending Stanley Cup champions figure to battle hard to retain that title.

Anaheim vs. Dallas

Records: Ducks (Pacific champions) 54-20-8, 116 points; Stars (second wild card) 40-31-11, 91 points.

Season series: Dallas won two of three.

The skinny: Will the Ducks learn from last season, when were the No. 2 seed before losing to No. 7 Detroit in the first round? The Ducks are led by the dynamic duo of C Ryan Getzlaf (31 goals-56 assists-87 points) and RW Corey Perry (43-39—82). The Ducks were one of the best 5-on-5 teams in the league but, perhaps surprisingly, were bottom third on the power play and a mediocre penalty kill. … The Stars are in the playoffs for the first time in six years thanks in large part to first-year GM Jim Nill’s hiring of coach Lindy Ruff and his trade for Tyler Seguin (37 goals, 84 points). Seguin lifted LW Jamie Benn’s game (34-45—79).

San Jose vs. Los Angeles

Records: Sharks (second in Pacific) 51-22-9, 111 points; Kings (third in Pacific) 46-28-8, 100 points.

Season series: The Kings won three of five.

The skinny: This is a rematch of last year’s gritty, seven-game, second-round series won by the Kings. All seven games were won by the home team, five of them by one goal, one in overtime. The Sharks are dynamic offensively, led by centers Joe Thornton (76 points) and Joe Pavelski (79) and LW Patrick Marleau (70). … The Kings, one of the lowest-scoring teams in the playoffs, boast a top-notch defense and a goalie, in Jonathan Quick, who outplayed Sharks G Antti Niemi last year. The top Kings line of Anze Kopitar centering Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams has started to impress. Gaborik was acquired in a trade-deadline move from Columbus.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Boston vs. Detroit

Records: Bruins (Atlantic champions) 54-19-9, 117 points; Red Wings (second wild-card team) 39-28-15, 93 points.

Season series: Detroit won three of four.

The skinny: Boston represented the East in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, when it won the Cup, and 2013 and is favored to do so again, while the Red Wings are in the playoffs for the 23rd consecutive season. The Bruins’ balanced scoring is led by C David Krejci (19-50—69), C Patrice Bergeron (30-32—62) and W Jarome Iginla (30-31—62). G Tuukka Rask was second in the league in save percentage (.930). … The Red Wings upset second-seeded Anaheim last year and took Cup champion Chicago to overtime of Game 7. Along with veterans like RW Daniel Alfredsson and D Niklas Kronwall, the Red Wings have cultivated a load of young talent, led by RW Gustav Nyquist (28 goals), LW Tomas Tatar and D Danny DeKeyser.

Tampa Bay vs. Montreal

Records: Tampa Bay (second in Atlantic) 46-27-9, 101 points; Canadiens (third in Atlantic) 46-28-8, 100 points.

Season series: Tampa Bay won three of four.

The skinny: The teams were separated by a point in the standings. The young, quick Lightning is led by C Steven Stamkos, who scored 25 goals and had 40 points in only 37 games. But Tampa Bay learned to win without him this season, with rookies LW Ondrej Palat and C Tyler Johnson leading the way. Tama Bay G Ben Bishop should play, despite an upper body injury late in the season. … Montreal was lifted by the trade-deadline acquisition of Thomas Vanek. He, Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais have one of the hottest lines going. D P.K. Subban had another big offensive season (53 points). Look for G Carey Price to rebound from a disappointing postseason a year ago.

Pittsburgh vs. Columbus

Records: Penguins (Metropolitan champions) 51-24-7, 109 points; Blue Jackets (top wild card) 43-32-7, 93 points.

Season series: Pittsburgh won all five games, trailing for a total of 56 seconds.

The skinny: The Penguins had a great regular season despite being decimated by injuries. Through it all Sidney Crosby (league-leading 104 points) established himself as the league’s MVP. But the person who will determine how far the Penguins go is G Marc-Andre Fleury. He lost his job to Tomas Vokoun after four poor starts in last year’s playoffs. This year Fleury has no veteran backup behind him. … The Blue Jackets are inexperienced, with 13 players in the postseason for the first time. Columbus had seven players with at least 16 goals. The keys are centers Ryan Johansen, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov. G Sergei Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, is healthy again.

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia

Records: Rangers (second in Metropolitan) 45-31-6, 96 points; Flyers (third in Metropolitan) 42-30-10, 94 points.

Season series: Teams split four games.

The skinny: Given the bitterness of this division rivalry and the outcome of the season series, the Flyers will have to do something they haven’t done in New York since Feb. 20, 2011 — win. The Rangers got stronger all year under new coach Alain Vigneault and the Flyers have at least one 20-goal scorer on all four lines. Both teams have a formidable top defensive pairing — Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi for New York and Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn in Philly — and both are strong in net. The Rangers are led by LW Rick Nash (26 goals), C Brad Richards (20) and Mats Zuccarello (19). The Flyers’ top line of C Claude Giroux (28-58—86), RW Jakub Voracek (23-39—62) and LW Scott Hartnell (20-32—52) will be hard to stop.

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Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
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