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Monday's notes: Playoff anticipation starting to build

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Here in Nashville we've got several days yet before the playoffs start (Friday? really?) but hey, that gives us all the more time to build up the anticipation, right? We'll have plenty about the Blackhawks and Predators over the course of the week, but for now there's so much to keep up with from around the league.

Follow after the jump for a few early appraisals of the playoff picture, a big-name defenseman who is already calling for a trade out of town, and the reaction of the two Florida teams to the ending of their disappointing seasons. I don't think they could have been more different...

Predators News

Why the Predators will win: About time -
Could we see a "Music City Miracle" on ice?

Nashville Gamebreaker: Pekka Rinne - Blackhawks v Predators - 2010 Stanley Cup Conference Quarters
John Manasso at profile's the most important Pred at this time of year.

As the Playoffs Loom, There’s Good News and There’s Bad News for Nashville " Pull My (Fang)Finger
AJ examines the ups and downs as the Preds get ready for playoff action.

Preds On The Glass: POTG Radio Playoff Preview Round-Table and Weekend Wrap-Up
Buddy's podcast this evening will look ahead to the playoffs.

Predators prospects postseason roundup - Nashville Predators Examiner
Jim Diamond checks in with how the prospects are doing in their various playoff runs.

The martyrdom of David Freeman - Nashville City Paper
J.R. Lind chronicles the off-ice story of the year around the team, the David Freeman tax lien and subsequent fallout.

Around the NHL

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi ready for playoff test -
Antti Niemi has the hopes of Chicago riding on his shoulders... no pressure, kid!

Skills competition puts Flyers in playoffs, Rangers out - Puck Daddy
The traditionalist's nightmare occurred yesterday as a shootout between Philadelphia and New York determined which team made the playoffs and which team's season was over.

The Top 10 NHL playoff storylines to watch - Puck Daddy
Sean Leahy has points to follow from around the league this week.

2010 NHL Playoff Preview: San Jose Sharks vs. Colorado Avalanche - Fear The Fin
I don't think the Sharks will choke in the 1st round this year. This should be a blowout of a series.

Phoenix to Face Detroit in First Round Matchup - Memo to Coyote Fans - Five For Howling
Travis rallies the Phoenix faithful to make the most of their home-ice advantage against the Red Wings in Round One.

NHL Playoffs ready to begin - The Globe and Mail
Eric Duhatschek and David Shoalts make their picks...

The puck stops here - The Globe and Mail
There's some major wrangling going on in Edmonton, where Oilers owner Daryl Katz wants to build a new arena, mostly with taxpayer money. That's much harder to do in Canada than in the U.S., typically.

Which Playoff Teams Did Well Against Other Playoff Teams? - Bird Watchers Anonymous
The Predators feasted on the non-playoff teams this season, and will have to step it up against Chicago.

Kozlov places blame for Thrashers' struggles on coach - Puck Daddy
The fingers are getting pointed in Atlanta, and veteran winger Slava Kozlov made it clear that interim coach John Anderson is to blame for the Thrashers' failure to make the playoffs.

Florida Panthers Celebrate Last Place with Confetti: Fireworks, Champagne Not Available ... - On Frozen Pond
OK, this is weird. The Panthers wrapped up another non-playoff season, and dropped confetti at the end of the game? It sounds like the players were simply embarrassed by the whole thing...

Bolts fire GM Lawton, coach Tocchet -
The new ownership group in Tampa wasted no time in cleaning house once the season was over. I'm guessing they didn't have confetti...

A Look at Goalies Heading Into the Playoffs - Slap Shot Blog
Jeff Z. Klein and Stu Hackel examine how goaltending trends could impact the playoff picture.

Playoff Goaltending and "Hot" Goalies - Behind The Net
Who's going to heat up during the playoffs? It's really impossible to say.

Roundtable Review: John Tavares on the Island - View From My Seats
A look at how the 2009 #1 draft pick fared this season.

Touring the New Barn – Consol Energy Center is Amazing… | Hockey Independent
Brian Metzer checks out Pittsburgh's new arena, set to open this fall.

Sheldon Souray Demands A Trade - The Copper & Blue
Maybe if he didn't break his hand in an unnecessary fight, he could have been dealt at the Trade Deadline...

No Choke: Henrik Sedin Is Your Art Ross Trophy Winner - Nucks Misconduct
Congratulations go out to Vancouver's Swedish center for finishing atop the NHL scoring race.