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NHL Playoff Preview Capsules @NHLdotcom

Capsules of NHL first-round series:

BOSTON: Bruins-Canadiens has occurred more than any other playoff matchup. ... Bruins won all three home games against Montreal. The Bruins were swept in the eight-game season series in 2007-08 before falling in the playoffs in the 1 vs. 8 matchup when the teams' positions were reversed from this season. ... Boston had conference-low 5 regulation losses at home this season. ... Bruins rode 29-5-4 start to first division title since 2004. ... Bruins are in playoffs for 64th time but haven't captured Stanley Cup since 1972. Boston hasn't won a playoff series since beating Carolina in the first round in 1999. ... G Tim Thomas, who led the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage this season, earned his only career playoff experience last year against Montreal.

MONTREAL: Canadiens have won three straight series from Bruins (2002, 2004, 2008). Took 18 consecutive series from Original Six rival from 1946-87. ... Montreal lost 10 of 13 during a January-February slide that led to the firing of coach Guy Carbonneau after a 1-2 road trip in early March. GM Bob Gainey took over behind the bench and got off to a 6-3-3 start before an 0-3-1 finish dropped the Canadiens to eighth place. ... Montreal's 20-year-old G Carey Price went 1-2 with a 3.45 goals-against average vs. Boston in five games this season. ... D Andrei Markov had career highs in assists (52) and points (64). The only defenseman with more points was Washington's Mike Green (73). Markov missed the Canadiens' final four games due to injury. ... Canadiens are making their 77th postseason appearance, but haven't won Stanley Cup since 1993 - the longest drought in the team's 100-season history.

OUTLOOK: History doesn't repeat. Bruins in 6.


WASHINGTON: Alex Ovechkin, who scored 56 goals to lead NHL for second straight season, looks for first postseason series victory. ... Capitals rallied from 4-0 deficit at Madison Square Garden to beat Rangers 5-4 in overtime on Dec. 23. ... Teams met in playoffs four times between 1986-94 when they were division rivals. ... D Mike Green scored 31 goals and 73 points, more than anyone on the Rangers. ... The Capitals won the Southeast Division title for second straight season, the second time they finished first in consecutive years. Their 108 points broke the team mark of 107 set in the 1985-86 season when they lost to the Rangers in the Patrick Division finals. ... Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Green averaged more than a point per game this season. ... Ovechkin likely to be shadowed by defense pairing of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi.

NEW YORK: Captain Chris Drury didn't skate for four days due to undisclosed injury, but practiced Tuesday. He is expected to play in Wednesday's series opener. ... The Rangers, who went 4-12-3 in their final 19 on the road, haven't won in Washington since Feb. 10, 2007. They had gone 11 straight games without a third-period goal before netting two in a season-ending 4-3 win at Philadelphia on Sunday. ... G Henrik Lundqvist earned a career-high 38 wins and became the first NHL player to reach the 30-win mark in each of his first three seasons. He has been in the net for 23 of the Rangers' 24 playoff games over the past three years. ... The Rangers and New Jersey Devils are the only Eastern Conference teams to qualify for the postseason in all four years since the lockout. New York has not advanced past the second round in that time. ... New York made playoffs for 52nd times in its 83-season history and earned 40 wins for fourth straight season. ... Rangers went 12-7-2 after John Tortorella replaced fired coach Tom Renney on Feb. 23.

OUTLOOK: Rangers pose a threat, but Ovechkin is on a mission. Capitals in 7.


NEW JERSEY: Reached Stanley Cup finals in 2001 after beating Hurricanes in first round. ... Devils only victory over Hurricanes this season came in finale when Carolina G Cam Ward took rare rest. ... Won four of five to close regular season after 0-5-1 skid. ... Devils in playoffs for 12th straight season, second longest current NHL streak behind Detroit (18). Joined New York Rangers as only Eastern team to qualify all four years after the lockout. ... Reached 40-win mark for 12th consecutive season despite missing G Martin Brodeur for 50 games (elbow surgery). New Jersey was 32-17-1 without him. ... Brodeur won eight of first nine after return and broke Patrick Roy's NHL record for wins, but struggled down the stretch. ... Zach Parise posted career highs with 45 goals, 49 assists and 94 points. He ranked third in the NHL in goals and fifth in points. Devils offense will also be bolstered by Patrik Elias, who was sidelined late in the season by injury.

CAROLINA: Advanced to 2002 Stanley Cup finals after eliminating defending conference champion Devils in first round. Went on to win Stanley Cup following second-round win over Devils in 2006. Have earned two of eight series wins in franchise history against Devils. ... This is Carolina's first playoff appearance since the title. ... Hurricanes went on 13-1-2 surge to move up from outside of playoff race. Lost final two games of regular season. ... Carolina went 33-19-5 under Paul Maurice, who on Dec. 3 replaced fired coach Peter Laviolette - the person who replaced him as Hurricanes coach in 2003. ... Offense powered by Eric Staal, who scored 40 goals - reaching at least 30 for the fourth straight season. He had 13 goals and 16 assists in final 20 games. Hurricanes were 22-3-2 when Staal scored. ... G Cam Ward, who as a rookie led 2006 title run after taking over for struggling starter Martin Gerber, made 28 straight starts before sitting out season finale against New Jersey. He was 19-7-2 with a 2.30 GAA from Feb. 7-April 9.

OUTLOOK: Hurricanes blow through Devils again. Carolina in 6.


PITTSBURGH: Penguins outscored Flyers 20-9 in conference finals to capture East crown. ... Pittsburgh is one of four Eastern playoff teams that changed coaches during the season. Penguins took off after Dan Bylsma replaced fired Michel Therrien on Feb. 15, going on to an 18-3-4 finish that moved club from 10th place to home-ice advantage in first round. ... Evgeni Malkin won first NHL scoring title with career-high 113 points and 78 assists. Captain Sidney Crosby was third with 103 points. Sid the Kid, with 33 goals, went over the 30-goal mark and posted at least 100 points for the third time in his four NHL seasons. ... Trade deadline pickups Chris Kunitz (from Anaheim) and Bill Guerin (N.Y. Islanders) bolstered offense. Kunitz had seven goals and 11 assists in 20 games. Guerin put up five goals and seven assists in 17 games. ... Penguins power play connected on 19.3 percent of its chances (22 for 114) after D Sergei Gonchar returned from shoulder surgery. He missed four months. The unit clicked 16.2 percent of the time without him. Gonchar earned 13 of his 19 points in power play.

PHILADELPHIA: Flyers are in playoffs for 13th time in 14 seasons, missing only two years ago when they finished last in NHL. ... Philadelphia had league-high six 25-goal scorers. ... C Jeff Carter finished second in NHL with career-high 46 goals, and led club with 84 points. Along with captain Mike Richards, who had 30 goals and 50 assists, became first Flyers with 80 points in a season since Mark Recchi in 1999-2000. ... Richards had franchise record seven short-handed goals, and became first NHL player to score three 3-on-5 goals in a career. ... Flyers led league with 16 short-handed goals scored and didn't allow short-handed goal until season-ending loss to the Rangers. ... Flyers will have a healthy Simon Gagne this time vs. Penguins after he was sidelined last year by a concussion. Gagne bounced back with 34 goals, the fourth time he scored at least 30. ... G Martin Biron earned the No. 1 starting job over Antero Niittymaki. Biron went 12-2-4 from Nov. 11 through Jan. 10. ... Flyers missed chance for home-ice advantage by failing to get point in season finale.

OUTLOOK: Philadelphia makes up for last year and lost home-ice advantage. Flyers in 6.


SAN JOSE: There have been seven No. 8 seeds to knock off the No. 1 since 1994, and the Sharks have two of those wins (vs. St. Louis in 2000 and vs. Detroit in 1994). ... Sharks hope to reverse recent early postseason exits after season in which they earned Presidents' Trophy for first time. After reaching West finals in 2004, the Sharks were knocked out in the second round three straight times. ... Sharks and Ducks are 41-41-8 against each other since they began playing in 1993-94. ... California teams haven't met in playoffs since 1969 when the Los Angeles Kings beat the Oakland Seals in seven games in quarterfinals. ... Sharks had NHL's third-best power-play unit (24.2 percent). Ducks were fourth (23.6 percent). ... Todd McLellan, an assistant with the champion Red Wings last season, is the fifth rookie head coach since expansion in 1967 to lead team to the best record in NHL. ... Sharks are 189-82-33 in the regular season since they acquired leading scorer Joe Thornton on Nov. 30, 2005. He has 96 goals and 292 assists in 304 games since the trade, and team-high 86 points this season.

ANAHEIM: Ducks, the 2007 Stanley Cup champions, are making their seventh postseason appearance - fourth straight. ... Ducks went 10-2-1 to close regular season and eke way into playoff spot. Team won franchise record, seven consecutive road games from March 3 to April 4. ... Scored 20 goals on 48 power-play chances in final 13 games. ... RW Bobby Ryan set team marks for goals (31) and points (57) by a rookie, doing it in 64 games. Despite being in the minors the first six weeks, Ryan led NHL rookies in goals and points. He is the first rookie to score 30 goals since Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin had 33 in 2006-07. ... The line of Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan and Corey Perry combined for 17 goals and 21 assists in the final eight games. Getzlaf had 14 points in that span, followed by 13 by Perry and 11 by Ryan. ... Goaltending is a much bigger question mark. Jonas Hiller led the late playoff push, wresting job from 2003 playoffs MVP Jean-Sebastien Giguere by winning seven straight with a 2.19 GAA and .923 save percentage in that span. He finished seventh in the league in both categories, 2.39 GAA and .919 save percentage.

OUTLOOK: Physical Ducks shake up Sharks, but not enough to knock them off. Sharks in 6.


DETROIT: The Red Wings were the last team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, doing it in 1997 and 98. ... No. 2 seeds have advanced to second round each of past two years after stretch from 1997-2006 where at least one No. 7 moved on. ... Matchup of most experienced playoff team, the defending Cup champion Red Wings - in the playoffs for an 18th straight season - against the upstart Blue Jackets in their postseason debut. ... Detroit had the NHL's best power-play unit (25.5 percent). Columbus was last (12.7 percent). ... Mike Babcock has a .642 playoff winning percentage, third among coaches with 50 or more games. ... The Wings earned 100 points for a record ninth straight season, topping Montreal's run of eight from 1974-75 through 1981-82 - before the introduction of the shootout. ... Marian Hossa is looking to win the Cup for first time after falling short with Pittsburgh against Detroit last year. He led the Wings with 40 goals - including eight winners. ... Henrik Zetterberg posted fourth straight 30-goal season. ... Goalie duo of Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin both made 40 appearances this season.

COLUMBUS: The Blue Jackets, in their ninth year, earned their first playoff appearance. They were only team never to reach the postseason. Since the 1967 expansion, the St. Louis Blues (1968) and Florida Panthers (1996), got to the Stanley Cup finals in their first trip to playoffs. ... The Blue Jackets have 16 players with playoff experience, totaling 401 games. Detroit's roster boasts 1,793 games of postseason experience. But Ken Hitchcock is ninth in postseason coaching victories (66-51) - second to Calgary's Mike Keenan among active coaches - with Dallas and Philadelphia. He guided Dallas to the 1999 Stanley Cup title and a runner-up finish the following year. ... Columbus will rely on rookie G Steve Mason to lead the way. He led the NHL with 10 shutouts, and earned 33 wins with a 2.29 GAA average in 61 games.

OUTLOOK: Even from second seed, Detroit is still team to beat. Red Wings in 5.


VANCOUVER: After dropping eight in a row in January, Canucks surged to 23-7-2 finish that lifted them over Calgary in Northwest Division race. ... Identical twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin each had a team-high 82 points this season to lead the Canucks. Daniel scored 31 goals, including seven game-winners, and was plus-24. Eight of Henrik's 22 goals were winners, and he was plus-22. ... Canucks finished season on 13-1-2 run at home, including 11-game winning streak there from Feb. 3-March 19. ... Success revolves around G Roberto Luongo, who came back from eight-week absence caused by groin injury and won 33 games with nine shutouts. It is Luongo's second time in the playoffs. He also made it in 2007 in his first season with Vancouver after being acquired from Florida. ... Mats Sundin was a welcome midseason addition, posting nine goals and 28 assists after making his season debut on Jan. 7.

ST. LOUIS: The Blues were even hotter than the Canucks, rallying from last place in the 15-team Western Conference to 6th with an NHL-best 25-9-7 record in the second half. ... St. Louis is back in the playoffs for first time in five years. Had 25 consecutive appearances before the drought. ... LW Paul Kariya is hoping to play after being sidelined since November following a pair of hip operations. He had two goals and 13 assists in 11 games. ... G Chris Mason took over the No. 1 spot after Manny Legace was sent to the AHL in February. Mason started the final 33 games and went 24-8-6 with a 2.08 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and five shutouts after Jan. 19. His GAA and his five shutouts during that time were the best in the NHL.

OUTLOOK: St. Louis runs out of steam in Pacific Northwest. Canucks in 7.


CHICAGO: Blackhawks outscored Flames 19-7 in series sweep. ... Only five current Blackhawks were in the NHL the last time Chicago made the playoffs in 2002. C Sammy Pahlsson leads with 64 games of postseason experience. The Blackhawks are in the playoffs for the 54th time. They won the Stanley Cup in 1934, 1938, 1961. ... The 46 regular-season wins and 104 points are their most since the 1992-93 season. The Blackhawks, who tied a team mark with 22 road wins, are the only NHL team to improve its record each of the past four seasons. ... Blackhawks were fourth in NHL with 3.22 goals per game, and fifth in the league by allowing only 2.51 goals per game. ... G Nikolai Khabibulin reached 20 wins for the 10th time by going 25-8-7, and was fourth in the NHL with a 2.33 GAA. ... C Jonathan Toews, 20, is the second-youngest captain of a playoff team behind Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. Toews, in his second season, led the Blackhawks with 34 goals and was third with 69 points. Patrick Kane, who edged Toews for top rookie honors last season, had 70 points, and Martin Havlat was first with 77. ... The Blackhawks went 45-22-11 under coach Joel Quenneville, who took over for fired Denis Savard after four games.

CALGARY: The Flames earned 40 wins, 90 points and reached the playoffs for the fifth straight season. ... Mike Keenan, a former coach of the Blues, is 94-73 in the postseason and is fourth on the career playoff victory list. ... Miikka Kiprusoff equaled his franchise record of 76 games played and led the NHL with 45 wins. ... Flames captain Jarome Iginla scored 35 goals, second on the club to Michael Cammalleri (39), and had a team-high 89 points. It marked the seventh straight season Iginla scored 35 goals. ... Cammalleri, who set a career high with 82 points, is poised to make his postseason debut after being acquired from Los Angeles during the offseason. ... Hard-hitting Dion Phaneuf led NHL defensemen with 277 shots on goal and was fifth in the league in average ice time at 26 minutes, 31 seconds per game.

OUTLOOK: Flames get blown out by team from the Windy City. Blackhawks in 6.


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