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STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS OPEN THREAD- Apr 12/17

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I don't blame you if you're one of those folks who doesn't care when their team isn't in it. For those of you that just wanna watch some good hockey (lord, could we use that), we are here for you as always.

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

5 Canadian teams, and none of them facing each other. We go from no Canadian teams in last year's playoffs to the potential of all 5 being in the second round, thus guaranteeing one making it to the conference finals. Add in getting to see the Leafs who, regardless of your feelings are a pretty damn entertaining team to watch at times, and the Oilers, with Connor McDavid getting into the spotlight he was seemingly born for. We also get to follow Canuck playoff hero Alexandre Burrows in Ottawa, and Jannik Hansen in San Jose. Hell, even Calgary's been decent down the stretch. And let's not forget the Habs, who have found their game since bringing in Claude Julien behind the bench.

5 series start tonight, making for a lot of hockey to get the playoffs started. Let's take a look at the games featured tonight, and you can post your series predictions here in the thread, as well as comments during the games.

Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers

4:00 PM PT - Bell Centre- Montreal, PQ

TV: CBC - Radio: TSN 1410

Goaltending will be the focus in this one (duh!) as Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist go head to head. The Habs had a bit of a scare yesterday when Max Pacioretty took a stick to the eye in practice, but he's good to go tonight. These are two evenly matched and similarly styled teams. Speed, skill, and the ability to capitalize on the opponent's mistakes are hallmarks of both squads.

If there's a difference it's on defence. The Rangers depth plummets after Ryan McDonagh. These teams had a heated battle in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2014, and there's a lot of players on both squads still around from that one. It should make for an entertaining series, but ultimately the Habs should move forward, because this may shock you, but an Alain Vigneault team is not up to snuff on the back end. Canadiens in 6.

Ottawa Senators vs. Boston Bruins

4:00 PM PT - Canadian Tire Centre- Ottawa, ON

TV: SN - Radio: N/A

Goaltending will be a focus here too, but not for the same reasons. The story of Craig Anderson, who has left the team at various times to be with his wife during her battle with cancer is probably the best story of the season. Anderson's play during the ordeal has been inspiring, and led his team to a 2nd place finish in the division. Add in the late season return of Clarke MacArthur from post-concussion syndrome and Ottawa is one of those teams that you can feel good getting behind.

Over in Boston, Tuukka Rask is the focus of a lot of attention as well. He's been hit and miss all year, as the Bruins squeaked into the post-season. And with the Bruins' D as banged up as it is, he will have an even greater challenge trying to deal with the Sens. Brad Marchand will also be in the spotlight, both to see if he can produce a playoff like the season he had, and whether or not he has learned his lesson THIS time, coming off a paltry two game suspension for his brutal nut shot on Tampa's Jake Dotchin.

There were some matchups the Bruins would have liked in the post-season, but this ain't one of them. The Senators are the better squad here, and should roll on. And man, it would be sweet to see Burr be a big part of this. Senators in 5.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Columbus Blue Jackets

4:30 PM PT - PPG Paints Arena- Pittsburgh, PA

TV: SN360 - Radio: N/A

A battle of two friends is the biggest story here. John Tortorella and his former assistant here in that memorable season (cough) in Vancouver, Mike Sullivan are meeting for what should be one of the nastiest series of the playoffs. These teams simply do not like each other. Add in the star power of the Pens with Crosby, Malkin and Kessel, to the lesser known, near underdogs of the Jackets and this is a series to watch.

Can the Penguins overcome the loss of Kris Letang on defence, or will Columbus, led by the revitalized Sergei Bobrovsky steal this series? Put your money on this one being an upset. Blue Jackets in 7.

St Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild

6:30 PM PT - XCel Energy Center- Minneapolis, MN

TV: SN360 - Radio: N/A

The Blues had looked like they were going to suffer a season like the Canucks, but turned things around by jettisoning head coach Ken Hitchcock, and bringing in former Wild coach Mike Yeo. Add in the 2nd half turn around of Jake Allen, and the Blues are a pretty formidable opponent. Minnesota had been looking like world beaters for most of the season, but stumbled down the stretch. Devan Dubnyk won over 40 games for the Wild, but struggled at times in the 2nd half. The Wild have some good experience in the form of Eric Staal, who has been a revelation in his first year in Minny, and his Cup experience could help. This one is pretty much a toss up, and the coin tells me... Wild in 7.

San Jose Sharks vs. Edmonton Oilers

7:00 PM PT - Rogers Place- Vancouver, BC

TV: SN - Radio: TSN 1040

Look, we get it. It's a big deal. Connor McDavid is the face of the new NHL, and everyone wants to ride that train. The problem is that this is completely uncharted waters. The majority of the team's paltry playoff experience belongs to one guy (and one who has won, but is probably as well known for how spectacularly he loses).

Add in a level of disrespect that we here in Vancouver can really relate to, with the San Jose Sharks, last year's Stanley Cup finalists are being completely written off  because of a couple months of frustration. So while the rest of the hockey world goes for what they think is going to be the good story, I am going to think about this clearly and concisely, realizing that while this Oiler team may be destined for greatness, but it's not that time, yet. Sharks in 6.

We'll have the remaining three series previews tomorrow, as well as daily recaps of the previous night's action and lots more. Look, you might actually enjoy this. It's helping me remember that while I love my team, I also love the game. The chase starts now...