How will the several goaltenders, with no NHL postseason experience, perform when they get their first taste of Stanley Cup playoff action? Can Pittsburgh Penguins’ coach Dan Bylsma accomplish what only the legendary Toe Blake has done in Stanley Cup history? How have teams with as many as five rookies in their lineup as the Colorado Avalanche have, performed in the playoffs in recent years? What teams have added the most playoff experience to their lineup this year to gear up for a Stanley Cup run? How have #8 seeds fared against #1 seeds in recent years?
Those are just some of the dozens of League, team and individual storylines for the 16 teams that begin the 60-day quest to win the Stanley Cup on Wednesday, April 14.
Six of the 16 playoff teams will return after at least a year's absence from post-season play. The six newcomers are one more than the five new teams in each of the previous four seasons.
The Phoenix Coyotes already were enjoying a breakout season heading into trade deadline day on Mar. 3, on pace for franchise-record win and points totals with a 37-22-5 record. But four key acquisitions by the 3 p.m., ET deadline that day have propelled them to even greater heights; they've gone 13-3-2 since.
(1) Acquired D Derek Morris from Boston for a conditional draft pick in the 2011 Entry Draft. Morris stats since trade: 1-3--4, +4, 19:39 TOI in 18 GP
(3) Acquired D Mathieu Schneider from Vancouver for D Sean Zimmerman and a conditional pick in the 2010 Entry Draft. Schneider stats since trade: 0-4--4, +5, 20:49 TOI in 8 GP
(4) Acquired RW Lee Stempniak from Toronto for D Matt Jones and 4th- and 7th-round picks in the 2010 Entry Draft. Stempniak stats since trade: 14-4--18, +10, 15:21 TOI in 18 GP
Other deadline day acquisitions who have been major contributors to date include Avalanche center Peter Mueller (from Phoenix, 9-11--20 in 15 games); Penguins defenseman Jordan Leopold (from Florida, 20:26 average ice time per game, +5) and Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (from Florida, 22:57 ice time per game, +9). The Washington Capitals have the NHL's second-best record since the trade deadline after picking up C Eric Belanger from Minnesota plus D Joe Corvo and RW Scott Walker from Carolina.
Playoff Goaltending Intrigue?
Adding plenty of intrigue to the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs is the absence of veteran playoff experience in goal.
New Jersey Devils' coach Jacques Lemaire enters the 2010 playoffs with the most experience among active NHL coaches both in terms of games (112) and wins (60). His games coached total ranks 11th all-time, while his win total ranks 10th.
Pittsburgh Penguins' coach Dan Bylsma enters the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs looking to become just the second coach in NHL history to win back-to-back Stanley Cups in his first two NHL seasons. Montreal Canadiens' coach Toe Blake won Cups in each of his first five seasons in the League (1956-60).