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(Page 132 of 165)

Why the Ducks will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Ducks vs Jets - 2015 SCP First Round

David Satriano - Staff Writer

Not much went wrong for the Anaheim Ducks this season. They won the Pacific Division for the third consecutive season and finished as the top seed in the Western Conference with 109 points and 51 wins.

Anaheim hasn't advanced to the Western Conference Final since 2007, when they won the Stanley Cup. Last season, the Ducks were the top seed in the West but lost in the second round to the Los Angeles Kings; but this team is much improved and will win the Stanley Cup this time.

Playoff teams need to win close games, and the Ducks have proven they can do that. Anaheim was 33-1-7 in one-goal games this season.

"We certainly want bigger and better things for our group," coach Bruce Boudreau said April 1 after the Ducks defeated the Edmonton Oilers to win the division. "We know it’s not going to be easy, but that's what we're striving for. … I'll be happy, believe me, if we win our last playoff game."

Yzerman's Lightning take on Red Wings in first round

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Lightning vs Red Wings - 2015 SCP First Round

Steve Yzerman is a hockey icon because of his career with the Detroit Red Wings. Now he’s built a team that will try to topple his former franchise.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, with Yzerman as general manager, will face the Red Wings in an Eastern Conference First Round series.

Tampa Bay set a Lightning record with 108 points and finished second in the Atlantic Division. Detroit has qualified for the playoffs 24 consecutive seasons, or two more than the Lightning have been in existence. The Red Wings reached 100 points for the 17th time since 1992-93 and finished third in the Atlantic.

One of the marquee matchups in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is sure to be Steven Stamkos against Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Stamkos finished with the second-most goals in the NHL but he is likely to encounter a lot of two of the best defensive forwards in the sport.

Surprising Canucks or Flames will reach 2nd round

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Canucks vs Flames - 2015 SCP First Round

One of two teams that didn't reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season is guaranteed to be in the Western Conference Second Round this season.

The Calgary Flames haven't been in the playoffs since the 2008-09 season and haven't won a playoff round since 2004, when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Vancouver Canucks missed the playoffs last season after making it for five consecutive seasons, including twice as the Presidents' Trophy winner. Like the Flames, the Canucks haven't won a playoff round since they last reached the Stanley Cup Final, which was in 2011.

The past two times the Flames and Canucks have met in the playoffs, the winner of the series went on to play in the Stanley Cup Final.

Why the Senators will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Canadiens vs Senators - 2015 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The Ottawa Senators were the best team in the NHL from Feb. 10 through the end of the season. It stands to reason they can continue to be the best in the NHL until the middle of June.

Every team wants to be playing its best hockey going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Senators certainly can say they are.

Ottawa went 23-4-4 in their final 31 games to climb from 14 points out entering their game against the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 10 to make their way into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ottawa went on its run because it got surprisingly elite goaltending from Andrew Hammond and used the confidence gained from that to play fast and aggressive in all three zones, particularly through the middle of the ice.

In doing so, the Senators got some luck on their side and turned a bad trend of losing one-goal games into a positive trend by winning them. They were 10-12-9 in one-goal games through Feb. 8; they went 11-0-4 in one-goal games from Feb. 10 through the end of the season, including 7-4 in games extended past regulation.

There are four big reasons the Senators went on their big run, and why they have it in them to take this the distance in the spring.

Why the Islanders will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Capitals vs Islanders - 2015 SCP First Round

David Satriano - Staff Writer

The Achilles' heel of the New York Islanders for the past decade has been goaltending and defense. But general manager Garth Snow bolstered each of those positions with offseason trades, which is why the Islanders will win the Stanley Cup.

The last time New York made the playoffs, two seasons ago, they were ousted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round in six games, mainly because they allowed 25 goals, including at least four goals in five of the games.

In order to ensure that won't happen again, Snow traded for goalie Jaroslav Halak in May and signed him to a four-year contract. Halak rewarded that faith with an Islanders record for wins in a season and a half-dozen shutouts.

Why the Jets will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Ducks vs Jets - 2015 SCP First Round

David Satriano - Staff Writer

The Winnipeg Jets qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second wild card team from the Western Conference, but that won't stop them from making noise in the coming weeks and months.

The city of Winnipeg hasn't seen a playoff team in 19 years, since 1995-96 when the original Winnipeg Jets lost in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, so you can expect the fans to provide a huge boost. The MTS Centre is already regarded as one of the more intimidating buildings in the NHL. The Jets should be able to feed off the crowd and take care of business at home, where they were 23-13-5 during the regular season.

"For all those people back home, it's a great night for them," coach Paul Maurice said after the Jets made the playoffs. "And they're going to get to see some really exciting hockey."

Rapidly maturing Horvat is X-factor for Canucks

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Canucks vs Flames - 2015 SCP First Round

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins has admitted he wasn't comfortable having 19-year-old center Bo Horvat in his lineup to the start the season. Now he's counting on Horvat to play a big role in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Horvat slowly earned Desjardins' trust throughout an impressive rookie season, going from less than 10 minutes of ice time per game in his first month to averaging almost 14 minutes since March 1. His line is playing third-line minutes, gaining confidence offensively while earning tougher defensive matchups from his coach.

Horvat has 10 of his 13 goals and 16 of his 24 points since the All-Star break. During a recent nine-game stretch without a point, Desjardins said he was more impressed by Horvat's play in his own end, including when he was matched up against Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter during a crucial 2-1 shootout win against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

"That line's job is to play against some of the other teams' top lines," Desjardins said. "I was able to play them against Kopitar and Carter, and if you can play a 19-year-old against those guys, they are doing a great job, whether they score or not."

Coaching rematch when Predators meet Blackhawks

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Predators vs Blackhawks - 2015 SCP First Round

The Chicago Blackhawks are hoping history will repeat itself five years later.

The run to the Stanley Cup in 2010 started with a six-game series against the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Nashville is again in Chicago's way to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs, only this time the Predators have home-ice advantage.

Nashville is back in the playoffs under first-year coach Peter Laviolette after failing to qualify in their final two seasons with Barry Trotz, the only coach in Predators history until Laviolette came aboard.

Chicago is in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season under coach Joel Quenneville. The Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup twice (2010, 2013) and reached the Western Conference Finals another two times (2009, 2014).

Zidlicky's offensive game an X-factor for Detroit

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Lightning vs Red Wings - 2015 SCP First Round

Paul Harris - Correspondent

The ability of defenseman Marek Zidlicky to create offense from the blue line was well known when the Detroit Red Wings sent a conditional draft choice to the New Jersey Devils for him at the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline last month.

But Zidlicky, 38, has also shown in his time in Detroit that he doesn't shy away from physical play, despite being listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds.

A prime example came in the Red Wings 2-1 los to the Washington Capitals at Joe Louis Arena on April 5.

Zidlicky took exception to the way that Washington forward Tom Wilson hit him along the boards and let Wilson and the referees know about it. It was a game where many of the bigger Capitals were banging the Red Wings around with body checks.

Goaltending issues cloud Detroit's playoff outlook

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Lightning vs Red Wings - 2015 SCP First Round

Paul Harris - Correspondent

DETROIT -- This is the Detroit Red Wings dilemma going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Do they go with a struggling veteran golatender who has a solid playoff track record or a talented young netminder with moxie, who has won some big games but has shown he still has work to do on the craft of consistently keeping the puck out of the net in the NHL?

Jimmy Howard or Petr Mrazek?

Howard had an outstanding first half of the season and was selected to play in the All-

Star Game. But only hours after the All-Star participants were announced, Howard injured his groin against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 10 and missed a month.

Mrazek stepped in and won eight of 11 decisions.

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Quote of the Day

That group is not satisfied until we win a Stanley Cup. When we do win that Stanley Cup, I don't think we'll be satisfied then either. We're going to want another one. We have the group to do it. We have all the pieces. We just need to put them together.

— Ducks forward Ryan Kesler after signing a six-year extension with Anaheim this past July