Here are the morning papers for the Western Conference playoff matchups:
Detroit versus Nashville:
- The Wings have a number of injuries heading into their first round series with the Predators. According to USA Today, the Red Wings are heading into the playoffs with two of the top six clutch performers in the NHL.
- For the Predators, goaltending will be the key to any upset, writes John Glennon. It looks like David Legwand is not as far away from returning as once believed.
San Jose versus Calgary:
- The Sharks players are past the point of caring whether they are playing against some of their ex-teammates on the Flames. Hockey analysts across the continent like the Sharks to make a long run.
- George Johnson of the Calgary Herald has a feeling the Flames would have much preferred a series against the Wild instead of the Sharks. The Flames will need Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich to shutdown big Joe Thornton. If Calgary wants to pull off the upset, the Flames will need Miikka Kiprusoff to be their best player, writes Randy Sportak.
Minnesota versus Colorado:
- The Wild's road to the second round got a lot tougher last night with word that Nick Schultz will miss the first round after undergoing an appendectomy. With Schultz's injury, shutting down Colorado's big forward lines will be that much harder. Here is some video of the Wild preparing for Game 1.
- Adam Foote and Ruslan Salei have made a huge difference for the Avalanche on the defensive end. Coach Joel Quenville would like more scoring from his third line.
Anaheim versus Dallas:
- Ducks coach Randy Carlyle is never satisfied, writes Eric Stephens of the L.A. Times. Doug Weight may see himself on the outside looking in of the Ducks lineup.
- The Stars are hoping Steve Ott agitates as many Ducks as he can, writes Mike Heika.
Here are the morning papers for the Eastern Conference playoff matchups:
Montreal versus Boston:
- Saku Koivu will be out until next week at the earliest, writes Pat Hickey. Hickey also provides an examination of the Habs and Bruins in all aspects of the game. Here is a Montreal Gazette playoff pool tips article.
- Patrice Bergeron may return to the Bruins lineup for Game 2. Bergeron isn't the only Bruins star forward who plans on returning to the lineup, as Marc Savard wants to be back for Game 1.
Pittsburgh versus Ottawa:
- Marian Hossa is not thinking about past playoff failures and is looking to make a long playoff run with the Penguins, writes Shelly Anderson. Bryan Murray believes the Penguins tanked to face his Senators.
- The Senators are certainly not feared by the Penguins, writes Bruce Garrioch. "We've gotten a bad (reputation) here the last little while and everybody ousting us in the first round and not giving us much of a chance," said Senators star Jason Spezza. Meanwhile, the Senators are going to need Cristoph Schubert to be a physical force in this first round series.
Washington versus Philadelphia:
- If the Capitals are going to make a playoff run, they will need to see the same goaltending from Cristobal Huet as they did at season's end.
- Flyers forward Daniel Briere says he will be in the lineup for Game 1 on Friday. With the Flyers opposing Alexander Ovechkin, this series will be the feature national series in the United States.
New Jersey versus New York Rangers:
- Martin Brodeur is ready for the usual harassment he will get from Rangers fans. Dainius Zubrus will be matched up all series against Jaromir Jagr.
- Larry Brooks speaks to the importance of a productive Sean Avery in the playoffs. Jaromir Jagr is ready to get the playoffs underway.
The non-playoff team morning papers are soon to follow...
For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.
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