No. 1 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks
Season series: Chicago 2-2 ; Vancouver 2-1-1
Player to watch: Daniel Sedin, F, Vancouver Canucks. The twin of last year's Hart Trophy winne, Henrik, turned in another stellar regular season, leading the league in points (104) and assists (75). He’s averaged better than a point per game over the last two postseasons.
X-factor: The Blackhawks’ energy level. The Blackhawks, like any Stanley Cup winner, had the shortest summer in hockey. Celebrations, a day with the Cup and all the ancillary rewards can take their toll. Then you lose a good chunk of the team via salary cap moves and you struggle to remain a contender all season. Chicago eventually needed a Dallas Stars loss Sunday to make it in. Let’s see what they have left.
Game 1 - Wednesday (10 p.m.) Chicago at Vancouver
Game 2 - Friday (10 p.m.) Chicago at Vancouver
Game 3 - April 17 (8 p.m.) Vancouver at Chicago
Game 4 - April 19 (8 p.m.) Vancouver at Chicago
*Game 5 - April 21 (10 p.m.) Chicago at Vancouver
*Game 6 - April 24 (8 p.m.) Vancouver at Chicago
*Game 7 - April 26 (TBD) Chicago at Vancouver
Season series: Los Angeles 3-3-0; Jose Sharks 3-1-2
Player to watch: Joe Thornton, F, San Jose Sharks. Thornton took only a couple faceoffs over the last five games of the regular season, although the center said on a conference call with reporters that could change in the playoffs. (As is the case, nobody is calling the move off the faceoff dot was caused by an injury.) He scored his 1000th NHL point earlier this weekend and had 70 points (21 goals and 49 assists) this season.
X-factor: The Kings’ offense. Los Angeles lost its two top scorers -- Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams -- in closing weeks of the regular season. It’ll be up to Dustin Brown, Ryan Smyth and Dustin Penner to pick up the slack.
Schedule: Game 1 - Thursday (10 p.m.) Los Angeles at San Jose
Game 2 - Saturday (10 p.m.) Los Angeles at San Jose
Game 3 - April 19 (10:30 p.m.) San Jose at Los Angeles
Game 4 - April 21 (10:30 p.m.) San Jose at Los Angeles
*Game 5 - April 23 (10:30 p.m.) Los Angeles at San Jose
*Game 6 - April 25 (TBD) San Jose at Los Angeles
*Game 7 - April 27 (TBD) Los Angeles at San Jose
Season series: Detroit, 2-1-1; Phoenix 2-0-2
Player to watch: Shane Doan, F, Phoenix Coyotes. The last Winnipeg Jets player left on the Coyotes missed the final four games with a separated shoulder when these two teams clashed in the first round a season ago. He was the Coyotes’ only 20-goal scorer this season and led the team with 60 points.
X-factor: Will Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg make it back? He missed the final two regular season games with a lower body injury, and coach Mike Babcock told reporters Sunday that he doesn’t expect him back for the start of the series. He led the Wings with 80 points (24 goals and 56 assists).
Game 1 - Wednesday (7 p.m.) Phoenix at Detroit
Game 2 - Saturday (1 p.m.) Phoenix at Detroit
Game 3 - April 18 (10:30 p.m.) Detroit at Phoenix
Game 4 - April 20 (10:30 p.m.) Detroit at Phoenix
*Game 5 - April 22 (7 p.m.) Phoenix at Detroit
*Game 6 - April 24 (TBD) Detroit at Phoenix
*Game 7 - April 27 (TBD) Phoenix at Detroit
Season series: Anaheim 1-3-1; Nashville 3-1-0
Player to watch: Corey Perry, F, Anaheim Ducks. He’s the only player to reach 50 goals this season. Sure, he plays on arguably the best line in hockey, but he did have to carry things when Ryan Getzlaf was out about a month with a sinus fracture.
X-factor: The Ducks’ goalie situation. Dan Ellis, acquired before the deadline from the Tampa Bay Lightning, could be the starter by default. Starter Jonas Hiller returned for one game (March 24) after a 15-game absence due to vertigo and went on to miss the final eight games. Ray Emery suffered a lower body injury in the penultimate game of the season and his status is also not clear for the playoffs. It's certainly not nearly as stable as Nashville, who have a Vezina candidate, Pekka Rinne, healthy in net.
Game 1 - Wednesday (10:30 p.m.) Nashville at Anaheim
Game 2 - Friday (10:30 p.m.) Nashville at Anaheim
Game 3 - April 17 (TBD) Anaheim at Nashville
Game 4 - April 20 (TBD) Anaheim at Nashville
*Game 5 - April 22 (10 p.m.) Nashville at Anaheim
*Game 6 - April 24 (TBD) Anaheim at Nashville
*Game 7 - April 26 (TBD) - Nashville at Anaheim
* - if necessary
All times Eastern