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Hurricanes, Islanders, Stars intrigue NBC analysts heading into playoffs

McGuire, Olczyk, Emrick, Milbury discuss teams returning to postseason

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / Staff Writer

For Pierre McGuire, it's about the teams returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after absences.

It's about the Carolina Hurricanes, who return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. It's about the atmosphere at Nassau Coliseum for the New York Islanders, who missed the playoffs the past two seasons. And it's about the Dallas Stars, who are in the playoffs for the third time in the past 11 seasons.  

"The new teams that are in and the different storylines that have the potential to be created," the NBC analyst said. "Different teams getting opportunities to get exposed to the national spotlight. It's going to be a magnificent playoff for everyone that's involved."

"The NHL on NBC" commentators Mike "Doc" Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury are preparing for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin with five games on Wednesday. Through June, the NBC Sports Group will televise as many as 105 playoff games and possibly more than 260 hours of programming.

The Hurricanes play the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round at Capital One Arena on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN360, TVAS2, FS-CR). The Hurricanes have garnered attention for their postgame celebrations but Olczyk said their talent looms larger. 

"Did that get precedent over [forwards] Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Justin Williams, or their goaltending? Maybe a bit," Olczyk said. "But if you're not winning hockey games, you're not celebrating like they are. But it doesn't matter what they do after the game or between periods: it's a pretty [darn] good hockey team. People know how they play on the ice more than post-game celebrations."

The Islanders host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2, MSG+, ATTSN-PT). Emrick said the atmosphere should be incredible.

"You have a boisterous crowd ready to raise the roof, and they can do it," Emrick said. "This is a different Islanders team now in how they approach the game, and they've had wonderful success with it. So, it'll be intriguing to see the contrasting styles and how it plays out."

The Stars play the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET; USA, TVAS, SN1, FS-SW). The Stars need big performances from their top players, including forward Tyler Seguin, who has 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 49 NHL playoff games. Seguin won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011. 

"He needs to have a dominant postseason, and [forward] Jamie Benn has to be there alongside him. It's time for them to step up," Milbury said. "It's been a great turnaround by another first-year coach [Jim Montgomery], who's done an outstanding job. They've found a way to put it together."

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