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Wednesday's notes: The playoffs begin, as Atlanta cleans house

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The Stanley Cup Playoffs finally debut tonight, although of course Nashville fans have to wait two more days until Game One between the Predators and Blackhawks (your handy dandy countdown timer is on the right sidebar).

Follow after the jump this morning to get a host of playoff previews, word on where you can go to watch the Preds tangle in Chicago, and a look at a wholesale turnover for the Atlanta Thrashers...

Predators News

Preds playoff viewing parties announced… | Section 303
When the Preds are playing on the road, you'll know where to go to catch all the action.

Preds On The Glass: Stanley Cup Playoffs Finally Begin and Wednesday Wrap-Up
Buddy's ready for the puck to drop tonight, and points readers to a playoff pool.

Predators looking for more than a change of scenery from Boyd | Nashville City Paper
Dustin Boyd has been a pleasant surprise since coming over at the Trade Deadline. Can he keep it going in the playoffs?

Nashville Predators motivated to reach second round - The Tennessean
Several of the Preds are sick of this "one and done" business.

Around the NHL

Patrick Kane rejects playoff beard in favor of 'trashy' mullet - Puck Daddy
I've seen better mullets on a squirrel.

Blog roundtable: SCH, Fifth Feather, Third Man In and Blackhawk Up | Blackhawk Up | A Chicago Blackhawks Blog
An assortment of Chicago blogs looks ahead to this series.

Blackhawks are at ease awaiting Predators - NHL.com
Oh, those sensational young Blackhawks, they're so lovably loosy-goosy, aren't they?

EA Sports crowns Blackhawks; betting odds favor Caps - Puck Daddy
Ah, well, we might as well call the whole thing off...

Nashville-Chicago Preview: Can Antti Niemi Win the Cup for Chicago? | The Hockey Writers
The mantra in Chicago is that the rookie goalie is up to the challenge, because the money they've doled out to Cristobal Huet has been pretty much a waste.

Nieuwendyk press conference transcript - The Dallas Morning News
The Stars GM talks about his first year on the job, and what Dallas needs to do to get back into the playoffs next season.

Red Light District: Fearless Predictions!!
Ryan makes his Stanley Cup pick...

The View from 111: The View of the Playoffs: Fearless First Round Predictions
Mark makes his call...

Shakeup In Atlanta - KuklasKorner
A new day dawns in Atlanta, where the Thrashers have fired the coaching staff and kicked the GM upstairs (strange how that often happens). We should note that the Falconer at Bird Watchers Anonymous posted a tip that this was on the way a couple days ago.

The percentage of first round series in which the #7 seed has defeated the #2 seed, since #1-8... - Broad Street Hockey
Reason for optimism?

Reinsdorf gets approval from Glendale city council - The Globe and Mail
Jerry Reinsdorf takes the lead to acquire the Phoenix Coyotes, after the Glendale City Council rejects Ice Edge's lease proposal.

Objective NHL: Playoff Probabilities
Some grim numbers for Preds fans....

Alexander Semin: "We Need to Get Through the First Round as Quickly as Possible" - Japers' Rink
The Capitals winger is looking down the road, and playing fewer games early on is important to a deep playoff run.

Joe Thornton: "For me to play well is important, but it’s more important for the whole team to play well" | Working the Corners
How will the San Jose Sharks handle the pressure of huge expectations this time around?

Lowetide: Ales Hemsky: Jumping Jack Flash
Ales Hemsky is a constant source of debate in Edmonton, and Lowetide makes the case for the Oilers keeping him.

Coming Down the Pipe!: Oilers Turn Frown Upside Down
At least there's something to look forward to in Edmonton, the #1 overall draft pick.

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik: "We're going to be an excellent hockey team" | Lightning Strikes
After firing the coach and general manager, the new owner is ready for a fresh start in Tampa.

Where Are They Now? | Hockey Independent
Al Cimaglia wonders if Dave Tallon, who was ousted in Chicago, might land in Tampa.

Down Goes Brown: Google's new Maple Leafs TV ad
You remember that Google ad during the Super Bowl? Well, now there's a Toronto version...

Marathons and mayhem: Top 10 NHL fights of 2009-10 season - Puck Daddy
Not that we condone such a thing... ah, who am I kidding. Enjoy.