And then there were eight

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

(1) MONTREAL CANADIENS VS. (6) PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

THIS SEASON'S PLAYOFFS

Montreal def. Boston Bruins in seven games

Philadelphia def. Washington Capitals in seven games

HEAD-TO-HEAD PLAYOFF HISTORY

This is the earliest of their five playoff meetings, which includes one Cup final (Montreal's 1976 sweep) and three semi-finals, the most recent in 1989 when Canadiens coaches Guy Carbonneau and Kirk Muller still were playing. Habs lead overall, 3-1.

SEASON SERIES

Montreal romped through all four games, out-scoring the Flyers 15-6. But sweeping Boston didn't provide Montreal an easy ride last round.

THE SKINNY

Which Alex Kovalev will show up for the Habs? ... The Flyers have some speed, the Habs quickly are gaining playoff experience, but it's a tossup in goal after some of the shine came off Carey Price in the first round ... Canadiens fans likely to latch on to would-be Hab Daniel Briere and goaltender Martin Biron as their target for verbal abuse, but 14 of Briere's 18 career points against his home-province club have come at the Bell Centre ... Montreal defenceman Mike Komisarek leads all playoff performers in blocked shots with 26 ... The Canadiens' league-leading power play has been a 9% playoff dud, but their 90% penalty killing is far better than regular season.

INJURIES

Flyers right winger Mike Knuble (hamstring) is out for the series, as is defenceman Mike Rathje (groin) and left winger Simon Gagne (concussion). The Habs have no significant injuries.

(2) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS. (5) NEW YORK RANGERS

THIS SEASON'S PLAYOFFS

Pittsburgh def. Ottawa Senators in four games

New York Rangers def. New Jersey Devils in five games

HEAD-TO-HEAD PLAYOFF HISTORY

The Penguins hold a 3-0 lead. They were victorious in 1989, 1992 (a Cup year) and 1996. The Rangers won just three games in those series.

SEASON SERIES

The Rangers won five of eight and swept the games at Madison Square Garden. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby combined for 15 points in the series, with centre Scott Gomez leading the Rangers with seven points.

THE SKINNY

With left wingers Jarkko Ruutu, Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts, and right winger Georges Laraque, Pittsburgh is more than able to counter the Sean Avery yap factor, but Avery also can burn a team on the scoreboard ... The Rangers must utilize their superiority in goal, but if Crosby finally catches playoff fire, Henrik Lundqvist's bubble will burst ... Former Maple Leafs defenceman Hal Gill traditionally has done a good job shutting down right winger Jaromir Jagr ... Jagr never has played his former team in a playoff game and gets razzed heavily in Mellon Arena. But he kept his suburban Pittsburgh house, and rents it to Penguins right winger Petr Sykora.

INJURIES

Defenceman Mark Eaton (knee) is out for the Penguins, while Roberts (leg/groin) missed the final two games of the Ottawa series and is questionable for Game 1. The Rangers are healthy overall.

(1) DETROIT RED WINGS VS. (6) COLORADO AVALANCHE

THIS SEASON'S PLAYOFFS

Detroit def. Nashville Predators in six games

Colorado def. Minnesota Wild in six games

HEAD-TO-HEAD PLAYOFF HISTORY

The Avalanche holds a 3-2 lead in five memorable meetings. In three of the series, the victors went on to the Cup; Colorado in 1996, Detroit in 1997 and 2002, the latter a seven-game conference final with the Avalanche outscored 9-0 in the final two matches.

SEASON SERIES

Detroit dominated with four wins, three by shutouts. Centre Pavel Datsyuk had six points for the Red Wings.

THE SKINNY

Detroit should continue with goaltender Chris Osgood ahead of the unpredictable Dominik Hasek ... Old Wings-Avs feuds will be played out again, among several survivors from the 1990s, with Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote and Darren McCarty rejoining their respective teams. "Maybe the villains have changed but the rivalry is still intense," said TSN/NBC's Pierre McGuire. "I expect Detroit to really target (Avalanche defenceman) Ian Laperriere ... To me, Jose Theodore (a .940 save percentage after round one) is the comeback player of the year."...Colorado left winger Ryan Smyth has picked up his game after a quiet regular season ... Colorado coach Joel Quenneville has moved Forsberg to left wing from centre.

INJURIES

Detroit left winger Kirk Maltby (hamstring) hopes to play at some point in the series. Right winger Daniel Cleary is wearing a special mask to protect a healing jaw break. Detroit centre Tomas Kopecky (torn ACL in left knee) is out for the playoffs. The Avalanche is without defenceman Brett Clark (shoulder).

(2) SAN JOSE SHARKS VS. (5) DALLAS STARS

THIS SEASON'S PLAYOFFS

Dallas def. Anaheim Ducks in six games

San Jose def. Calgary Flames in seven games

HEAD-TO-HEAD PLAYOFF HISTORY

Dallas is 2-0 with fairly easy wins in 1998 and 2000, limiting San Jose to a total of 19 goals in 11 games.

SEASON SERIES

The Stars won 4-3-1, but lost the Game 82 finale at home. Neither team scored more than four goals in one game, neither lost by more than two.

THE SKINNY

The Sharks can't repeat their slow starts exhibited during the Calgary series ... Dallas goaltender Marty Turco's confidence is riding high after an opening-round win, but the Sharks made it past a huge psychological hump in beating the Flames ... The rivalry between Jeremy Roenick and Mike Modano is perfect for American TV ... Modano is adjusting to a checking role after the Stars picked up centre Brad Richards ... The Stars are expecting defenceman Sergei Zubov to return sometime during the series after sitting out for three months because of a sports hernia ... Special teams stats favour the Stars.

INJURIES

The Stars are missing Zubov and defenceman Philippe Boucher (hip). The Sharks are missing defenceman Brad Norton (back) and could be without defenceman Kyle McLaren for the early games with a groin problem.

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Top playoff scorers

MONTREAL

PLAYER G A P

S. Kostitsyn 3 3 6

Kovalev 2 4 6

A. Kostitsyn 3 2 5

Brisebois 1 4 5

Plekanec 1 3 4

PHILADELPHIA

PLAYER G A P

Briere 6 5 11

Prospal 3 6 9

Richards 2 5 7

Knuble 2 3 5

Carter 3 1 4

Top playoff scorers

DETROIT

PLAYER G A P

Datsyuk 3 2 5

Hudler 2 3 5

Kronwall 0 5 5

Zetterberg 2 2 4

Franzen 2 2 4

COLORADO

PLAYER G A P

Sakic 2 4 6

Brunette 3 2 5

Wolski 2 3 5

Forsberg 1 4 5

Hejduk 2 2 4

Top playoff scorers

SAN JOSE

PLAYER G A P

Clowe 4 4 8

Pavelski 3 4 7

Thornton 2 5 7

Marleau 2 4 6

Cheechoo 3 2 5

DALLAS

PLAYER G A P

Ribeiro 2 6 8

Morrow 3 3 6

Lehtinen 2 4 6

Modano 2 4 6

Robidas 1 5 6

Top playoff scorers

PITTSBURGH

PLAYER G A P

Crosby 2 6 8

Malkin 2 5 7

Malone 2 3 5

Hossa 1 4 5

Sykora 3 0 3

N.Y. RANGERS

PLAYER G A P

Jagr 2 6 8

Gomez 3 4 7

Dubinsky 3 3 6

Straka 1 5 6

Avery 3 2 5


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