Skip to main content

NHL Playoff Preview Capsules @NHL

Capsules of NHL first-round series:

WASHINGTON: Capitals had 15-14 edge in goals against Canadiens. Only one game in series was decided by more than one goal. ... Washington had an NHL-best 121 points and won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time. The Capitals were especially strong in the second half, going 30-4-7 after two-time defending MVP Alex Ovechkin became team captain on Jan. 5. ... The Capitals scored an NHL-best 318 goals, the most in the league since Pittsburgh netted 362 in the 1995-96 season. Ovechkin, who had 109 points - including 50 goals - and Nicklas Backstrom, with 101 points are the first Capitals pair to score 100 points in the same season.

MONTREAL: Canadiens had NHL's second best power-play unit, behind only Washington, at 21.8 percent. They connected for five goals in 14 advantages against Capitals this season. ... Teams haven't met since Feb. 10, when Montreal broke the Capitals' 14-game winning streak by beating them 6-5 in overtime. ... A No. 8 seed has ousted No. 1 three times in seven seasons. ... Jaroslav Halak wrested the job of Canadiens top goalie away from Carey Price, going 9-3-3 with a 2.07 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 15 games after the Olympic break. Halak didn't face the Capitals this season.

OUTLOOK: Ovechkin starts mission toward Stanley Cup. Capitals in 5.


NEW JERSEY: The Devils are making their 13th consecutive playoff appearance, the second-longest active streak behind Detroit's 19 straight, after earning at least 40 wins for the 13th consecutive season. They won the Atlantic for the ninth time in 13 seasons. ... G Martin Brodeur earned an NHL-best 45 wins, but was beaten five times by the Flyers with a poor .847 save percentage. ... Devils have won only two playoff series since capturing the Stanley Cup for the third time in 2003. ... Ilya Kovalchuk had 10 goals and 17 assists in 27 games after being traded to New Jersey. Made only one playoff appearance in seven seasons with Atlanta, had a goal and an assist in a four-game sweep loss to the New York Rangers in 2007.

PHILADELPHIA: Five wins was the Flyers' best total against the Devils since the 1988-89 season. ... Brian Boucher, third on the Flyers' goalie depth chart earlier this season, was a rookie in 2000 when he helped lead Philadelphia to the Eastern Conference finals. The Flyers led the Devils 3-1 in the series before falling in seven games. Boucher has played in only four postseason games since, compared to 92 for Brodeur. ... Captain Mike Richards scored 31 goals, the fourth straight season his total has risen.

OUTLOOK: New Jersey figures out Philly in time. Devils in 6.


BUFFALO: The Sabres won the Northeast Division for the second time in four years, but Buffalo is in the playoffs after a two-year absence. ... Buffalo had the NHL's second-best penalty-killing unit (86.6 percent). ... Ryan Miller established himself as a Vezina Trophy contender with a 2.22 GAA - the fifth straight season he has lowered that number - and a career-best .929 save percentage. ... Rookie D Tyler Myers had a team-high five points - including two goals - against Boston. He was 12th in goals among defensemen (11) and played an average of 23 minutes, 44 seconds.

BOSTON: D Zdeno Chara scored a series-best seven points against the Sabres and was plus-9. ... The Bruins had the second-best road mark in the East (21-13-7), but Buffalo went 25-10-6 at home. ... Tuukka Rask took over the job as Boston's No. 1 goalie from defending Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas and ran with it. Rask had the NHL's best GAA (1.97) and save percentage (.931). He finished just ahead of Buffalo's Ryan Miller in both categories. ... The Bruins, the East's top seed last season, are in the playoffs for the third straight year. They qualified on the second-to-last day after posting the NHL's second-lowest GAA (2.43). Boston's offense is a different story. The Bruins finished 29th in the 30-team NHL with an average of 2.51 goals per game. Only the 1988-89 Vancouver Canucks ranked lower in the past 20 years and reached the playoffs.

OUTLOOK: Boston's offense can't solve Miller enough to move on. Sabres in 6.


PITTSBURGH: The defending Stanley Cup champions look to advance to third straight Stanley Cup finals. The Penguins are the No. 4 seed for the second consecutive year after falling just short of New Jersey in the race for the Atlantic Division title. ... These teams are meeting in the playoffs for the third time in four years. The previous two winners went on to lose in the Stanley Cup finals - Ottawa in 2007, Pittsburgh in 2008. ... The Penguins haven't played the Senators since Jan. 28. In splitting the four games, the winning team scored at least four goals and won by at least three in each. ... Penguins captain Sidney Crosby posted four goals and 11 assists in the last five games of the season to finish in a first-place tie in goals (51) and second in points (109). He managed only three points in four games against Ottawa.

OTTAWA: Chris Kelly, Nick Foligno, and Mike Fisher all had a team-high four points against Pittsburgh. ... Senators are in the playoffs for 12th time in 13 years, missing the postseason a year ago. ... Ottawa will need to find offense outside of a power play that produced only 49 goals this season. The Senators scored only once in 17 power-play chances against Pittsburgh and allowed four man-advantage goals in 20 short-handed situations to the Penguins. ... Longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson scored a team-best 71 points. Ottawa spread around the offense with 13 players posting at least 22 points.

OUTLOOK: Pittsburgh keeps the Igloo open a little longer. Penguins in 5.


SAN JOSE: Sharks feature three of the NHL's top 15 scorers - Joe Thornton (89 points), LW Patrick Marleau (83), and Dany Heatley (82). Marleau has scored 82 total goals the past two seasons after netting only 19 in the 2007-08 season. ... Dan Boyle was fourth among defensemen with 58 points. ... San Jose looks to avoid second straight first-round ouster as top seed in West. Despite owning home-ice advantage in their past three playoff series, the Sharks have dropped the opener each time. ... San Jose appears to be on an upswing, having gone 8-1-1 in the final 10 regular-season games to lock up the best record in the West. ... The Sharks are in the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, but have gotten past the second round only once in that span.

COLORADO: The Avalanche held off Calgary for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, despite a 3-5-2 finish in their last 10. ... Craig Anderson, courted right away when the free-agent signing period opened July 1, set team records in games (71), starts (71), minutes (4,235), shots faced (2,233) and saves (2,047). He started 34 of Colorado's final 37 games, including 23 in a row from Jan. 9-March 14. ... Anderson has never played in the NHL postseason, but he is far from alone. The Avalanche will have at least five rookies in their lineup: Matt Duchene, T.J. Galiardi, Ryan O'Reilly, Ryan Wilson and Brandon Yip. No team has had more than five rookies play a major role in the playoffs since Anaheim had six in 2006. Colorado's rookies combined for an NHL-high 166 points - including 64 goals. ... Avalanche coach Joe Sacco is also making his debut. ... Colorado finished sixth in the league with 244 goals scored - 45 more than last season.

OUTLOOK: San Jose survives this time with a slight scare. Sharks in 6.


CHICAGO: Blackhawks earned 112 points to become only NHL team to earn more points in each of the past five seasons. ... The loaded Blackhawks can overpower with offense. Patrick Kane had 30 goals and 88 points, young captain Jonathan Toews had 25 goals and 68 points, and veteran Marian Hossa - a Stanley Cup finals participant the past two seasons with Pittsburgh and Detroit, respectively, had 24 goals and 51 points despite being limited to 57 games by injury. No player has been in three consecutive finals series with three teams. Hossa is still looking to hoist the Cup for the first time. ... Blackhawks are in playoffs for second straight year after being out since 2002. Only G Antti Niemi lacks NHL postseason experience. ... Chicago has been playing without injured defensemen Brian Campbell and Kim Johnsson.

NASHVILLE: The Predators are in the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, but have yet to win a postseason series. Nashville is 0-4, losing twice to both Detroit and San Jose. ... RW Martin Erat scored four goals in season series with Chicago. ... Patric Hornqvist scored 30 goals to lead the Predators, who scored only 225 - the fewest among the eight playoff teams in the Western Conference. The Predators, however, have 10 players with at least 30 points. ... Pekka Rinne has established himself as a leading NHL goalie by going 32-16-5 with seven shutouts and a 2.53 GAA in 58 games.

OUTLOOK: Chicago hopes for first Cup title since 1961. Gets good start here. Blackhawks in 5.


VANCOUVER: With NHL scoring champion Henrik Sedin pacing the offense, the Canucks scored a Western Conference-best 272 goals - their most since netting 278 in the 1995-96 season. Sedin finished with 112 points, including 83 assists. ... Vancouver and Los Angeles combined for 513 goals this season, the second most among first-round matchups behind the 535 scored by Washington and Montreal. ... The Canucks claimed the Northwest Division title for the fourth time in six seasons and tied the franchise record with 49 wins. ... Canucks won their two home games against Kings by combined score of 7-2. Vancouver had NHL's second best home record, and the top mark in the West at 30-8-3. ... Roberto Luongo, who backstopped Canada to the men's hockey gold medal on home ice in Vancouver, is 11-11 with a 2.09 GAA in 22 career NHL playoff games. ... Mikael Samuelsson, a free-agent signing last summer, scored a career-best 30 goals. He has played in 69 postseason games and won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008.

LOS ANGELES: First postseason appearance since 2002. The Kings made a surprising improvement over last season, increasing by 22 points to 101. It was the franchise's highest point total since posting 102 in the 1990-91 season. ... Kings salvaged win in final game against Canucks on April 1, routing Vancouver 8-3 - scoring all eight against Luongo. Captain Dustin Brown had three goals and a career-high four points. ... Los Angeles C Anze Kopitar continues to emerge as a star at age 22. He had career highs in goals (34), assists (47) and points (81) - leading the Kings in each department. ... After a season that earned him a spot on the NHL All-Rookie team, 20-year-old D Drew Doughty was third among defensemen with 59 points, led the Kings in ice time at nearly 25 minutes per game, and was a plus-20. ... U.S. Olympian Jonathan Quick, also in his second season, set team records with 39 wins and 72 games played.

OUTLOOK: Young Kings add jewel to crown. Kings in 7.


PHOENIX: The Coyotes are in the playoffs for the first time since 2002 after a season in which they put up franchises with 50 wins and 107 points. Phoenix finished second in the Pacific Division after not getting above fourth place since 2002. ... The only place the Coyotes hold an experience edge over the postseason-rich Red Wings is with goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who has played in 16 playoff games. Bryzgalov posted a career-high 42 wins, 14 more than his previous best, and eight shutouts. He finished in the top 10 in the NHL with a 2.29 GAA and .920 save percentage in 69 games. ... Phoenix went 19-7 after regulation this season, including 14-6 in the shootout. That won't help the Coyotes in the playoffs, where overtime continues until a goal is scored. ... Lee Stempniak gave the Coyotes a big boost with 14 goals in 18 games after being acquired at the trade deadline. Another trade pickup, Wojtek Wolski, had six goals and 18 points in 18 games.

DETROIT: The Red Wings are the NHL playoff standard-bearers, having qualified in 19 consecutive seasons, won the Stanley Cup four times since 1997, and reached the finals six times since 1996 - including the past two years. ... Detroit was in danger of missing the playoffs after a rash of key injuries, but now the Red Wings are healthy and dangerous. Johan Franzen came back in February after knee surgery that forced him to miss 55 games and posted nine goals and 10 assists in 24 games. Detroit also survived injuries to forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom, Valtteri Filppula, Jason Williams and Dan Cleary, and defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Andreas Lilja. The Red Wings went 16-3-2 in their final 21 games following the Olympic break. ... Rookie G Jimmy Howard has yet to play an NHL postseason game. He supplanted Chris Osgood, who has 129 games of playoff experience and has won the Stanley Cup three times. Howard emerged as a viable rookie of the year contender by going 37-15-10 with a 2.26 GAA and .924 save percentage. ... Stellar two-way center Pavel Datsyuk paced the offense with a team-high 27 goals and 70 points in 80 games.

OUTLOOK: Detroit drives toward another berth in Cup finals. Red Wings in 6.


End Capsules

View More