Most of the NHL playoff series will get underway tomorrow evening, but of course Nashville Predators fans have to wait until Friday before the puck drops between the Predators and Blackhawks. That gives us all a moment to take a look around and soak in the rest of the playoff atmosphere before the nail-biting begins.
Poll Alert: Also, be sure to head over to Thom's site and vote in his poll at the bottom of the page - how far do you think the Preds will go in the playoffs this year?
After the jump, we have some playoff previews (including Pierre McGuire's take), some looks back at what went wrong for the teams that didn't make the playoffs, and word that Mike Modano may well indeed become a part owner of the Dallas Stars...
Preds On The Glass: "Throw The Snake-gate" Gets the Playoff Spirit Rolling, POTG Podcast, and Tuesday Tidbits
Buddy recaps last night's podcast, and the possibility of snakes on the ice in Phoenix.
The View from 111: Predators and Blackhawks: A Look at the First Round Matchup
...and Mark has posted his preview as well!
Brandon Felder - Round 1 - THE Series Preview for #2 CHI v #7 NSH
I wanted to point you to Brandon's series preview. I haven't read it, as I haven't written mine yet, but I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
Hornqvist welcomes the wait for Predators' playoff series opener - Nashville City Paper
David Boclair notes how this series' late start benefits the Predators greatly.
Nashville Predators face new challenge in playoffs - The Tennessean
John Glennon highlights the 9 Preds who will make their playoff debut this spring.
Also, Pierre McGuire participated in a media conference call yesterday and this is what he had to say about Predators vs. Blackhawks:
We'll start off with the battle of the Finnish goaltenders, Pekke Rinne for Nashville and Antti Niemi for Chicago. That will be an interesting one to watch. Because if you do the tale of the tape, Pekka Rinne in Nashville has better credentials than Antti Niemi. So that could be a difference maker.
But the thing that is troublesome with Nashville is the help of Patric Hornquist, their only 30 goal scorer. If he's not 100%, and he wasn't to finish the season, that could be a problem. The strength of Nashville on defense with their big three - when you look at the way they've developed, Danny Hamhuis over the years that he's been there, and you look at Shea Weber who has had a tremendous Olympics. He has been a lynchpin on their defense. And Ryan Suter had an amazing Olympics with team USA.
So the big three on defense on Nashville have to matter and make a difference. They're going to have to find way to stymie the better offensive attack for Chicago. That's going to be one of the things to watch is which goaltender can step up with all those scenarios and deliver? Right now if you're looking at the tale of the tape, Pekka Rinne has a little bit of an advantage over Niemi.
But for Chicago, it's hard to look past the leadership of Jonathan Toews. t's hard to look past the quick-strike ability of Marian Hossa. Very difficult to look past the big two on defense in Seabrook and Keith. And obviously, Duncan Keith is a Norris Trophy candidate, a legitimate candidate, and that's tough to look past.
It's going to be an interesting series but I think Chicago has a little bit of an edge, they have a little more pure offense going into this series than Nashville does. But the one thing that will be on the other side without the players being involved will be Joel Quenneville versus Barry Trotz. They're very familiar with one another. They've coached against each other as long as Barry Trotz has been the Head Coach in Nashville. They've coached against each other because Quenneville was in St. Louis and then obviously as he moves on to Chicago. So there is a huge sense of familiarity between the two coaching staffs that will be interesting to watch. But just a little bit of an edge because of the more balanced offense of Chicago in that series. But it should be a more difficult series than people think. Nashville is going to give them all they can handle.
Around the NHL
Five questions with Chicago Blackhawks Examiner Dieter Kurtenbach - Nashville Predators Examiner
Jim Diamond reaches out to his colleague in Chicago for some answers about the Blackhawks...
Profiles in Keyboard Courage: Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post - Fear The Fin
It gets harder and harder to determine why it is that newspaper columnists actually get paid to write what they do.
Corsi and Score Effects - Behind The Net
Teams that have the lead tend to put fewer pucks on net, so Hawerchuk demonstrates how this impacts Shots For/Against totals.
A Case of the Mondays: Dissecting Sutter-Speak - Matchsticks and Gasoline
Hayley dissects the post-mortem press conference in Calgary. Flames fans are mostly left shaking their heads...
Wilson gives the eulogy - The Globe and Mail
So... the big Calgary/Toronto trade this season was the best thing to happen to both teams?
The Brilliance Of NHL General Managers - Hockey or Die
Jonathan Willis looks at the bizarre case of Tom Gilbert, whose up-and-down play has him as popular on the trade market as a case of poison ivy.
Questions going into the 2010 NHL Playoffs - Nucks Misconduct
There are some serious concerns in Vancouver, starting with "We are one D-man injury away from total chaos".
Jim Lites, Mike Modano part of local group that wants to buy the Stars - The Dallas Morning News
Hey, if Mario can do it, why can't Madonna?
Western Conference Goalie Breakdown - From The Rink
Mike Chen surveys the goaltending situation in the West. I like how the Preds stand here...