Here are the morning papers for the Eastern Conference playoff matchups:
Montreal versus Boston:
- There are key players on both Montreal and Boston that are getting ready for their first NHL playoff experience. Craig Julien sees the role reversal that has taken place since the Habs played the Bruins in the playoffs in 2004. The expectations are high inside the Habs room, says Chris Higgins. Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette tells readers the key for the Habs will be getting Zdeno Chara off his game.
- Tim Thomas and Carey Price don't really have much in common, but the one thing they do have in common is that they both have never played an NHL playoff game. Here is some injury news on Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard.
Pittsburgh versus Ottawa:
- Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette breaks down each area of the game and gives his grade as to whether the Sens or Pens are better in that aspect. It is on the Penguins to prove they have learned from their 2007 playoff experience. The city of Pittsburgh has Cup fever.
- All the pressure is on the Penguins to meet the expectations of the hockey world, says Senators coach/GM Bryan Murray. If Ottawa wants to win, the Senators must make sure they contain both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. On the injury front, Cory Stillman (leg) looked a lot better at practice yesterday.
Washington versus Philadelphia:
- Sergei Fedorov sounds refreshed in Washington and is very much looking forward to Friday's first game versus the Flyers. With injuries to Shaone Morrisonn and Jeff Schultz, the Caps may have to rely on their depth defensemen to carry the load until their top six defensemen are all healthy.
- Here are predictions on the series courtesy of the Philadelphia Daily News. There have been no dates set for the returns of Derian Hatcher and Jason Smith. The Flyers are going to have to beat the impressive Cristobal Huet if they want to advance to the second round.
New Jersey versus New York Rangers:
- The Devils are a faceless team and they really don't mind it, writes Rich Chere. Here is an in depth preview of the Devils/Rangers series courtesy of the Star-Ledger. It's playoff time, which means the Devils stay in a hotel, even at home.
- Rangers beat writer Larry Brooks picks the Devils to win the series in six. Chris Drury thinks Rangers rookies Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal are going to flourish in the playoffs. John Dellapina of the NY Daily News picks the Rangers to win in six.
Here are the morning papers for the Western Conference playoff matchups:
Detroit versus Nashville:
- Apparently not many people think the Red Wings can win the Cup. In injury news, Brad Stuart will be ready for Game 1. The Red Wings have to make sure they solve Dan Ellis in the playoffs a lot better than they did in the regular season.
- The Predators are going to need energy and some scoring from their checking lines if they are going to upset the powerful Red Wings. In positive news, David Legwand is hoping to practice with the Preds today.
San Jose versus Calgary:
- The Sharks are ready for the Flames to bring a physical edge to their series, writes David Pollak. Boy is Jeremy Roenick glad he decided not to retire. Here's how the Sharks and Flames matchup. (If you crave more Sharks information, here is a video from the guys over at 2 Man Advantage helping you get to know Patrick Rismiller.)
- Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun provides readers with a great story from Jeremy Roenick's old days with Mike Keenan in Chicago. The fact is, Mike Keenan knows how to play to the referees.
Minnesota versus Colorado:
- The Wild haven't won a playoff series in five years, and Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune tells readers that anything less than a first round victory will be a failure. Brent Burns is ready for his return to playoff action. With Nick Schultz ailing on the sidelines, Petteri Nummelin has been sprung into important minutes on the Wild blueline.
- Terry Frei of the Denver Post wonders if this is Joe Sakic's last season? Woody Paige has an entertaining article in this morning's paper.
Anaheim versus Dallas:
- Ducks netminder J.S. Giguere is feeling at his best heading into Thursday's first playoff game. This should be one rough series, writes Eric Stephens. On the injury front, Corey Perry (quad) could be available for Games 3 and 4 in Dallas.
- Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News likes the Ducks in 6. The Stars think their chances are better than Heika does, so long as they "lock it down." Anaheim will be ready for any adversity Dallas throws at them, writes Chuck Carlton.
The morning papers for the team's that did not make the playoffs are soon to follow...
For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.
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