NHL Playoff Preview

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

EASTERN CONFERENCE

NO. 1 BOSTON (53-19-10, 116 PTS.) VS. NO. 6 CAROLINA (45-30-7, 97 PTS.)

SEASON SERIES: The Bruins were 4-0-0 against the Hurricanes during the regular season. Boston outscored Carolina 18-6. Bruins C David Krejci led Boston with three goals and four assists.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: The Hurricanes have met the Bruins three times in franchise history in the post-season and Boston has won all three. The last time they met was in 1999, when Boston pulled off a 4-2 series victory.

THE SKINNY: The Hurricanes are coming off a shocking 4-3 series win over the Devils with a victory in Game 7 at the Prudential Center Monday. Eric Staal scored the winner with 31.7 seconds left remaining in the third period. Only 48 seconds earlier, Ray Whitney had tied it up ... The Bruins are coming off a four-game sweep over the Canadiens. W Michael Ryder led the club against his former team with four goals and three assists ... With more than a week to prepare for their second-round opponent, Bruins coach Claude Julien set up a scrimmage in practice earlier this week to simulate a game situation ... Bruins G Tim Thomas, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie, was 4-0 against the Habs with a 1.56 GAA, with a sparkling .956 save percentage ... D Zdeno Chara took time off during the break to be with his wife for the birth of the couple's first child, a baby girl ... The victory over the Devils was the third straight post-season series win for the Hurricanes against New Jersey.

HURTING: Boston: D Andrew Ference (undisclosed), questionable; D Matt Hunwick (spleen), questionable; LW Marco Sturm (knee), out for season. Carolina: D David Tanabe (concussion), out indefinitely.

POSSIBLE HERO: Boston C Marc Savard is an underrated superstar. All eyes are going to be on Thomas in this series, but Savard has flown under the radar. He could be big in this series.

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NO. 2 WASHINGTON (50-24-8, 108 PTS.) VS. NO. 4 PITTSBURGH (45-28-9, 99 PTS.)

SEASON SERIES: The Capitals were 3-0-1 vs. the Penguins. Pittsburgh's only win was March 8 in a 4-3 shootout in Washington. Sidney Crosby had one goal and six assists against Washington.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: This will be the eighth time the Penguins and Caps have met in the post-season. The Penguins have dominated with a 6-1 record. The last time they played was in 2001, the Pens won the series 4-2.

THE SKINNY: The Caps are coming off a 2-1 victory over the Rangers on Monday in Game 7 of their first round series. C Sergei Fedorov scored the game winner in the third period in his 176th playoff game. He needs to suit up for only one more game to tie D Al MacInnis for 25th on the all-time games played list ... Caps rookie G Simeon Varlamov, who took over after G Jose Theodore had a rough time in Game 1 against the Rangers, was the hero for Washington. He was 4-2 with a 1.17 GAA and a .952 save percentage ... Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma, who took over late in the season, had the interim tag removed from his title after a six-game victory over the Flyers in Round 1. Bylsma had a 18-4-3 record after taking over from the fired Michel Therrien ... Pittsburgh C Evgeni Malkin and Washington W Alex Ovechkin are finalists for the Hart Trophy as league MVP ... It had been 11 years since the Caps last won a playoff series before their victory over the Rangers ... Caps LW Donald Brashear won't be eligible to return until Game 6 of the series. He is serving a suspension for a hit on Rangers F Blair Betts.

HURTING: Pittsburgh: C Mike Zigomanis (shoulder), out for season. Washington: G Brent Johnson (hip), out for season; LW Quintin Laing (spleen), out for season.

POSSIBLE HERO: This going to be a duel between Ovechkin, Malkin and Crosby. Ovechkin helped will the Caps past the Rangers. Crosby and Malkin are hungry to get back to the Stanley Cup final, which Pittsburgh lost last season to the Red Wings.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

NO. 2 DETROIT (51-21-10, 112 PTS.) VS. NO. 8 ANAHEIM (42-33-7, 91 PTS.)

SEASON SERIES: The Wings were 3-1-0 against the Ducks, outscoring Anaheim 15-11. Anaheim scored a 5-4 win on Oct. 29 and then lost three straight.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: This will be the fifth time the Ducks and Wings meet in the post-season. The Ducks knocked off the Wings in a six-game series in 2007 before beating the Senators in the Stanley Cup final. The Ducks swept the Wings when Detroit was the defending Cup champ in 2003.

THE SKINNY: The Ducks advanced to Round 2 with a 4-2 series victory over the top-ranked Sharks. The Wings are coming off a series sweep over the Blue Jackets ... Anaheim G Jonas Hiller was the playoff hero for the Ducks. He stopped 36 shots in a 4-1 victory over the Sharks in Game 6 in Anaheim ... Detroit C Pavel Datsyuk was named a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP. Datsyuk is also a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy ... Much-maligned Detroit G Chris Osgood had a 4-0 record against the Jackets with a .936 save percentage ... Detroit RW Johan Franzen led the Wings in scoring vs. the Jackets, with two goals and four assists ... The Wings are the first defending Stanley Cup champions to advance to the second round since 2002. The Avalanche advanced to the second round after winning the Cup in '01 ... The Ducks are only the fifth team since 1967-68 to take down the No. 1 seed in the first round ... The Ducks are 29-15 lifetime at the Honda Center in the post-season.

HURTING: Anaheim: LW Brad Larsen (hip), doubtful; D Bret Hedican (back), questionable. Detroit: C Kris Draper (lower body), questionable; D Andreas Lilja (concussion, knee), out indefinitely.

POSSIBLE HERO: Marian Hossa moved to Detroit to win a Stanley Cup. It's his time to shine. The Wings have advanced to the second round and they're the favourites. Hossa has to step it up here.

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NO. 3 VANCOUVER (45-27-10, 100 PTS.) VS. NO. 4 CHICAGO (46-24-12, 104 PTS.)

SEASON SERIES: The Canucks and 'Hawks split the season series. Chicago took the first two games by 4-2 and 3-1 decisions. Vancouver won the final two with 7-3 and 3-0 victories, respectively.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: Not a lot between these two teams. The last time they met was in 1995 when the 'Hawks swept the Canucks. In 1982, under coach Roger Neilson, Vancouver beat Chicago in five games en route to the Stanley Cup final.

THE SKINNY: The Canucks are coming off a four-game sweep off the Blues in Round 1. They have been idle since last Tuesday and have been holding practice at home ... Vancouver G Roberto Luongo has a 1.15 GAA and .962 save percentage in the post-season. That ranks him No. 1 among netminders. Luongo shut out Chicago on March 29 in the Windy City with 26 stops in a 4-0 victory ... The Canucks will have to stay disciplined. The club was called for 81 PIMs against the Blues ... The 'Hawks, coming off a 4-2 series victory over the Flames, hadn't won a playoff series in 12 seasons ... The 'Hawks outscored Calgary 25-12 ... Chicago G Nikolai Khabibulin, who made 43 stops in a 4-1 victory on Monday, won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004 ... The Blackhawks had a balanced scoring attack against the Flames. Kris Versteeg (2-5-7) led the way, but Martin Havlat (3-3), Patrick Sharp (3-3), Brent Seabrook (1-5), Jonathan Toews (2-4) and Cam Barker (3-3) all contributed six points each.

HURTING: Vancouver: D Willie Mitchell (lower body), should play; D Sami Salo (groin), questionable; C Mats Sundin (groin), questionable. Chicago: D Brent Sopel (elbow), doubtful.

POSSIBLE SERIES HERO: Luongo should be if he comes up with the big stops, but it's going to be a tough test. Chicago has a lot more firepower than the Canucks faced in their first series against the Blues. This series is in Luongo's hands.


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