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Posted On Tuesday, 04.30.2013 / 1:11 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

First-round Stanley Cup Playoffs predictions

All right, folks. After 720 regular season games, it's finally time for what we've all been waiting for -- the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. There were some surprises as for who made it to the postseason this year, but the one thing that won't surprise me is how much fun the next two months are going to be. There are some tremendous first-round matchups this spring, and as the playoffs move forward it's sure to only get better.

In the Eastern Conference we've got some great physical matchups like the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs and some exciting rematches like the New York Rangers against the Washington Capitals, and the Western Conference has some doozies as well. I won't waste any of your time here, though. Let's get to what you're all waiting for.

Here are my picks for the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 1:31 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Caps a contender with Ovi's re-emergence

It was only a few years ago that we were looking at Alex Ovechkin being one of the biggest stars in the world, and then by the beginning of this season it looked as if he was the highest-paid grinder in the NHL.

Well, after writing the poor guy off at the start of the year, it's no secret that Ovi's back.

Ovechkin had been written off by just about everybody, but now he's leading the League in goals after one of the most impressive offensive stretches we've seen in years, and the Washington Capitals, who struggled throughout the first half of the season, are reaping the benefits. It certainly looks like the Caps are going to win the Southeast Division unless they completely fall apart, and even when they've had obstacles lately -- like Saturday night when they nearly blew a 5-1 lead -- the Capitals have managed to stay afloat.

Washington's 6-5 overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday was a wake-up call. The Caps tried to win without playing the third period, and I think it was a good lesson for them, but the biggest news out of that game might have been that Ovechkin scored yet again. At the start of this season Ovi was hitting everything that moves and making a number of hard checks, but he wasn't scoring at all. That's completely changed now. He's scoring highlight-reel goals, his wrist shot is happening again, he's confident and he's still continuing to hit and play aggressively.

He's back to being Alex.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 10:28 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Blues at Wild

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.09.2013 / 4:42 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Team Speech: We're still in it!

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Posted On Monday, 04.08.2013 / 4:40 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry Melrose on Winter Classic

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Posted On Monday, 04.08.2013 / 4:39 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry's Power Rankings: Teams that got better

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.03.2013 / 4:37 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry's trade deadline analysis

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.03.2013 / 9:57 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry Melrose on all-time trades

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.02.2013 / 10:42 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose team speech: Pittsburgh Penguins

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Posted On Monday, 04.01.2013 / 2:49 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Pens team to beat despite Crosby injury

Originally I was going to talk this week about who I thought would reel in the big fish at the upcoming trade deadline on Wednesday. You might see some big names move like Edmonton's Ryan Whitney or maybe Calgary's Jay Bouwmeester, and there are definitely teams like the Boston Bruins or Chicago Blackhawks that I think will look to get deeper in certain areas before the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But something strange happened last week.

All of the big fish got traded already -- and they're all in Pittsburgh.

If you had told me eight days ago that the Pittsburgh Penguins would be sitting here with Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray, I would have said you were nuts, but the Penguins found a way to do it. The good general managers always find a way to do it, and Ray Shero's now done it a couple of times -- not only this season, but in past years with Bill Guerin and Marian Hossa. One of the main reasons Shero can make moves like this is that players know what kind of an organization the Penguins are and they want to be a part of it. Iginla wanted to go to Pittsburgh.

The Penguins were already probably the best team in the NHL before they made any of these trades -- at least if the last month is any indication. Pittsburgh has won 15 games in a row now, and that's not an accident. With these acquisitions, though, it's hard to think there's any other team that could be picked as the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup this June.

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Quote of the Day

I loved being in the jerseys again and they worked some magic for us. It was weird in warm-ups, seeing No. 22 in that jersey and thinking he’s [Mike Gartner], and No. 8 reminds you of Danny Briere … every number had me thinking back to the guys who wore them and smiling.

— Coyotes captain Shane Doan on wearing Kachina-style throwback jerseys in a 3-2 victory against the Canucks on Thursday