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The first round: A quick look

The playoff teams were decided before the final weekend of the NHLseason, but the matchups weren’t set until after the lastregular-season games were completed Sunday.

The playoff teams were decided before the final weekend of the NHL season, but the matchups weren’t set until after the last regular-season games were completed Sunday.

Here’s a quick look at the opening round matchups in the NHL playoffs:

Eastern Conference

Boston (No. 1, 53-19-10) vs. Montreal (No. 8, 41-30-11)
The old rivals meet in a playoff series for the second straight year and 32nd time overall. This series is a reverse of last spring, when the top-seeded Canadiens edged eighth-ranked Boston in seven games.

Washington (No. 2, 50-24-8) vs. N.Y. Rangers (No. 7, 43-30-9)
Alex Ovechkin takes Broadway. The league’s most dynamic goal-scorer couldn’t really get a much better playoff stage than Madison Square Garden. Henrik Lundqvist could be a difference maker in this series and Sean Avery is sure to get plenty of attention as well.

New Jersey (No. 3, 51-27-4) vs. Carolina (No. 6, 45-30-7)
Many had the Devils pegged as Eastern Conference favourites until they limped to the finish. Carolina has won two of the three playoff series between these teams and reached the Stanley Cup both of those years — 2002 and 2006.

Pittsburgh (No. 4, 45-28-9) vs. Philadelphia (No. 5, 44-27-11)
A rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference final for the rivals from Pennsylvania. Sidney Crosby’s Penguins might be the NHL’s hottest team heading into the playoffs after compiling an 18-3-4 record under coach Dan Bylsma.

Western Conference


San Jose (No. 1, 53-18-11) vs. Anaheim (No. 8, 42-33-7)
The first playoff series between two NHL teams from California since the Los Angeles Kings beat the Oakland Seals in seven games in 1969. San Jose was at the top of the league for almost the entire regular season and will be looking to shed its underachiever label from post-seasons past.

Detroit (No. 2, 51-21-10) vs. Columbus (No. 7, 41-31-10)

Detroit’s quest for another Stanley Cup starts with an intriguing matchup against a division rival. Not only are the Blue Jackets appearing in the playoffs for the first time ever, they’re doing so with a rookie goaltender. Steve Mason turned 20 just weeks ago and had a league-leading 10 shutouts this season.

Vancouver (No. 3, 45-27-10) vs. St. Louis (No. 6, 41-31-10)
The Canucks did well to reel in Calgary and capture the Northwest Division title. Now they’ll want to put home ice to good use. Roberto Luongo’s team faces the Cinderella story of the NHL after St. Louis climbed from last place in the West at the all-star break to an unlikely playoff position.

Chicago (No. 4, 46-24-12) vs. Calgary (No. 5, 46-30-6)
Which Flames team will show up? Calgary has been among the more unpredictable teams this season, looking brilliant during some stretches and awful during others. There should be plenty of enthusiasm in this series as playoff hockey returns to the Windy City for the first time since 2002. Chicago has fallen back in love with its Blackhawks in the process.

 
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