San Jose Sharks (1) vs. Anaheim Ducks (8)
- Sharks forward Patrick Marleau has been asked the same question for months.
- The Ducks were drifting through the season, winning a few games here and losing a few there, their early 8-0-1 surge nearly forgotten and their playoff prospects circling the drain.
Detroit Red Wings (2) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (7)
- It won’t be as easy as it looks, or as easy as it should be. The first round of the playoffs almost never is for the Red Wings, which is part of the sweaty charm.
- The Blue Jackets will have virtually no margin for error. They’ll need rookie goaltender Steve Mason to steal a game or three.
Vancouver Canucks (3) vs. St. Louis Blues (6)
- It’s not hard to see why Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis targeted David Backes for a restricted free agent offer sheet last July 1.
- Stanley Cup champions Andy McDonald and Dan Hinote, along with Keith Tkachuk and Jay McKee, were granted the floor and given the responsibility of prepping a young St. Louis team for its first NHL playoff experience.
Chicago Blackhawks (4) vs. Calgary Flames (5)
- Yep, the Blackhawks are back. Chairman Rocky Wirtz and president John McDonough promised a playoff team, and the young Hawks delivered.
- On their way into the building Thursday night, the Calgary Flames should pause to give the Michael Jordan sculpture –one of the Chicago’s top tourist attractions — a long, hard study.