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NHL Game Day Preview: Lightning-Penguins, Coyotes-Red Wings, Rangers-Capitals, Blackhawks-Canucks, Predators-Ducks

Todd Bertuzzi's Red Wings take on the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round for the second consecutive season. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Todd Bertuzzi's Red Wings take on the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round for the second consecutive season. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins

Game 1: 7:00 p.m. Wednesday

Notes: Sidney Crosby skated with the Penguins Tuesday, but was not cleared for contact and is not expected to play in Game 1… Pittsburgh’s 49 wins were the second-most in the NHL this season… Jordan Staal missed half the season, but his 0.71 PPG average was the highest of his NHL career… Since Alex Kovalev’s last post-season game with Pittsburgh in 2001, he has 31 points in 33 playoff games… Four Lightning players had more points this season than any healthy Penguins… Tampa Bay lost 5-1 and 8-1 in Pittsburgh this season… Injured Evgeni Malkin and Crosby combined for 59 goals in Pittsburgh’s past 62 playoff games… Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2004, the Lightning are just 3-8 in the post-season… Martin St-Louis was held scoreless three games in a row just once this season (March 2-5)… With one more win, Dan Bylsma will surpass Scotty Bowman for the Penguins franchise lead in post-season wins.

Quote worthy: "We played well on the road and, really, when you think you have home-ice advantage and then you lose one, then you got major pressure because you lose it that quickly. So long as we’re healthy, as we are right now, I think we’ll be comfortable going in playing anywhere and we know we have a chance against anybody." - Lightning coach Guy Boucher on his team beginning the playoffs on the road.

What they’re saying in Tampa Bay: Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times writes about Dwayne Roloson’s steady focus, playoff history and his importance to the team’s post-season hopes.

What they’re saying in Pittsburgh: Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes about Zbynek Michalek’s important shutdown role in this series.

Poll: Who will win Game 1?

Phoenix Coyotes at Detroit Red Wings

Game 1: 7:00 p.m. Wednesday

Notes: Red Wings leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg is expected to miss Game 1 with a lower-body injury… Mike Modano is a scratch for the Wings, while Niklas Kronwall will return… Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov faced the most average shots per game of any netminder in the playoffs… Detroit beat Phoenix in seven games in last year’s first round, but captain Shane Doan was injured in Game 3 and didn’t finish the series… Doan led the Coyotes with 20 goals this season; Detroit has four players with more goals… Jimmy Howard had the worst GAA of any starting goalie in the playoffs (2.79)… In Nicklas Lidstrom’s 19 years with the team, Detroit hasn’t missed the playoffs… The Phoenix/Winnipeg franchise hasn’t won a playoff round since 1987… Detroit coach Mike Babcock and Phoenix coach Dave Tippett are 1-2 in total wins since 2002-03.

Quote worthy: "‘Bryz’ is probably the best player in the series. I think he's unbelievable, I think he's the most talented goalie in the league and when he's on, he's as good as anybody…Obviously they've got some pretty talented forwards and we might count on ‘Bryz’ a little more." – Coyotes captain Shane Doan on his goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

What they’re saying in Phoenix: Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic writes that Ilya Bryzgalov is Phoenix’s chance to win this series, yet he’s the most underappreciated athlete in the valley.

What they’re saying in Detroit: Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News writes it’s time for Jimmy Howard to deliver or else the Wings will be in tough to knock off the pesky Coyotes.

Poll: Who will win Game 1?

New York Rangers at Washington Capitals

Game 1: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Notes: Rookie Michal Neuvirth (27-12-4, .914 SP, 2.45 GAA) will get the start in goal for Washington… Neuvirth won back-to-back championships with the Hershey Bears in 2009 and 2010, the first to achieve the feat since Pete Peeters with Maine in 1978 and ‘79… The Rangers won their last game of the regular season, but only advanced to the post-season after Carolina’s loss to Tampa Bay… The Rangers won three out of their four meetings with the Capitals this season, including 6-0 and 7-0 victories… Brandon Dubinsky fought Alex Ovechkin in a Dec. 12 game this season… The Rangers finished the season in a 1-for-27 drought with the man advantage and Marian Gaborik was practicing with the second unit prior to Game 1… New York’s last 5-on-4 goal came March 20… That March 20 game was also the last time Gaborik scored… Last season, Washington became the first No. 1 seed to blow a 3-1 series lead against a No. 8 seed in its loss to Montreal… Mike Green says he’s ready for a Game 1 return from injury, though coach Bruce Boudreau was less convinced.

Quote worthy: "I think I can outplay anyone with this team.” – Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth on facing Henrik Lundqvist.

What they’re saying in New York: Larry Brooks of the New York Post writes how captain Chris Drury is leading the Rangers youngsters.

What they’re saying in Washington: Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post writes how a 7-0 loss to the Rangers in December prompted Washington’s shift to a more defense-oriented approach.

Poll: Who will win Game 1?

Chicago Blackhawks at Vancouver Canucks

Game 1: 10:00 p.m. Wednesday

Notes: The Canucks didn’t have their top six defensemen in the same game all season… In their past six home playoff games against Chicago, the Canucks are 1-5 and Roberto Luongo allowed 27 goals in the five losses… Luongo played 60 games this year, the third-fewest of his career as a full-time NHLer… Dave Bolland, out with a concussion for more than a month, traveled with the team to Vancouver and is expected to play… Troy Brouwer, out for the past week with a shoulder injury, is also expected to return to the lineup… The Canucks brought Cody Hodgson up from the American League Tuesday… The Blackhawks held the Sedin’s to a combined three goals in last season’s six-game series… Corey Crawford faced Vancouver once this season, stopping 27 of 28 shots and winning 7-1… Chicago’s power play was 1-for-22 against Vancouver this season.

Quote worthy: “I feel the best I’ve felt in my career as far as my game is concerned. As far as confidence, I’m feeling great. I’m trying to carry that over into the playoffs. My game is exactly where I want it to be right now.” – Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.

What they’re saying in Chicago: Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune writes about the mentality of the two playoff rivals.

What they’re saying in Vancouver: Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province writes how a 7-1 loss to Chicago this season and a summer date in 2009 helped get the Canucks to where they are today.

Poll: Who will win Game 1?

Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks

Game 1: 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Notes: Corey Perry (50) has more than twice as many goals as Nashville’s top scorer Sergei Kostitsyn (23)… The Predators were 13.6 seconds away from taking a 3-2 opening round series lead going home against Chicago last season until allowing a shorthanded goal that sent the game into overtime, which Chicago won… In Nashville’s past four playoff appearances they used a different starter in each (Tomas Vokoun, Chris Mason, Dan Ellis, Pekka Rinne)… The Preds are 8-20 in the playoffs and haven’t won a series in five tries… The Ducks had three players average better than a point-per-game this season, the most in the NHL (Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne).

Quote Worthy: "We're team defense first. That's the way Barry Trotz coaches; that's the way our system is built. We are going to defend from our goaltender out. At playoff time you always hear about the unsung hero, the grinder, the third-line checking guy who comes up big. We're going to need a lot of guys to come up big." – Nashville Predators veteran Steve Sullivan.

What they’re saying in Nashville: Bryan Mullen of The Tennessean writes how the Predators hope their balanced attack will trump Anaheim’s top scorers.

What they’re saying in Anaheim: Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times writes about Lubomir Visnovsky’s exciting return to the post-season for the first time since 2002.

Poll: Who will win Game 1?

THN PUCK PANEL: 2011 PLAYOFF PREVIEW


PRODUCER: Ted Cooper

 

The NHL Game Day Preview will appear each day throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs to prepare you for the action ahead.

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