First round playoff matchups set

The first-ever playoff series between two NHL teams from California. San Jose was at the top of the league for almost the entire regular season and will be looking to shed its underachiever label from post-seasons past

The Calgary Flames are going to need goalie Miikka Kiprusoff to be at the top of his game to get past the high-octane Chicago Blackhawks in the first round.

Western Conference

San Jose (No. 1, 53-18-11) vs. Anaheim (No. 8, 42-33-7)

The first-ever playoff series between two NHL teams from California. San Jose was at the top of the league for almost the entire regular season and will be looking to shed its underachiever label from post-seasons past. Don’t expect it to be easy against surging Anaheim, which faces a tough decision in goal. One-time backup Jonas Hiller has been carrying the load down the stretch and might see his first career playoff action in front of former Stanley Cup winner J.S. Giguere.

Detroit (No. 2, 51-21-10) vs. Columbus (No. 7, 41-31-10)

Detroit’s quest for another Stanley Cup starts with an intriguing matchup against a division rival. Not only are the Blue Jackets appearing in the playoffs for the first time ever, they’re doing so with a rookie goaltender. Steve Mason turned 20 just weeks ago and had a league-leading 10 shutouts this season. By comparison, the Red Wings have all kinds of experience and will once again lean on the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom.

Vancouver (No. 3, 45-27-10) vs. St. Louis (No. 6, 41-31-10)

The Canucks did well to reel in Calgary and capture the Northwest Division title. Now they’ll want to put that home ice to good use. Roberto Luongo’s team faces the Cinderella story of the NHL after St. Louis climbed from last place in the West at the all-star break to an unlikely playoff position. The Blues struggled on the road early in the year but won five of their last seven away from Scottrade Center to secure a playoff berth.

Chicago (No. 4, 46-24-12) vs. Calgary (No. 5, 46-30-6)

Which Flames team will show up when the playoffs get started? Calgary has been among the more unpredictable teams this season, looking brilliant during some stretches and awful during others. Most eyes will be on goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who might not be fresh after appearing in 76 games during the regular season. There should be plenty of enthusiasm in this series as playoff hockey returns to the Windy City for the first time since 2002. Chicago has fallen back in love with its Blackhawks in the process.

Eastern Conference

Boston (No. 1, 53-19-10) vs. Montreal (No. 8, 41-30-11)

The old rivals meet in a playoff series for the second straight year and 32nd time overall. This series is a reverse of last spring, when the top-seeded Canadiens edged eighth-ranked Boston in seven games. Expect goaltending to be a storyline here as Montreal’s Carey Price embarks on his second NHL post-season against Boston’s Tim Thomas — the league’s regular season leader in goals-against average and save percentage.

Washington (No. 2, 50-24-8) vs. N.Y. Rangers (No. 7, 43-30-9)

Alex Ovechkin takes Broadway. The league’s most dynamic goal-scorer couldn’t really get a much better playoff stage than Madison Square Garden. It’s the second straight year the Caps have qualified for the Stanley Cup tournament and they’ll be expecting a little bit more this time around. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist could be a difference-maker in this series and Sean Avery is sure to get plenty of attention as well.

New Jersey (No. 3, 51-27-4) vs. Carolina (No. 6, 45-30-7)

Many had the Devils pegged as Eastern Conference favourites until they limped to the finish. However, no team with Martin Brodeur can ever be counted out during the post-season. Don’t overlook the recent play of Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward, who is 13-2-2 since the start of March. Carolina has won two of the three playoff series between these teams and reached the Stanley Cup both of those years — 2002 and 2006.

Pittsburgh (No. 4, 45-28-9) vs. Philadelphia (No. 5, 44-27-11)

A rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference final for the bitter rivals from Pennsylvania. The series opens at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh because the Flyers lost their season finale on Sunday. Sidney Crosby’s Penguins might be the NHL’s hottest team heading into the playoffs after compiling an 18-3-4 record under coach Dan Bylsma.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Buccaneers battle Wolfpack in AFL semifinal

The Central Alberta Buccaneers battled the Calgary Wolfpack in the Alberta Football… Continue reading

Raising awareness for Bikers Against Child Abuse

Second annual Raise A Ruckus Against Child Abuse was held at the Red Deer Radisson Hotel Saturday

Central Alberta Yogathon cancelled Saturday

Due to air quality concerns the fourth annual event will take place Sept. 15

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Thousands to attend funeral service for officers killed in Fredericton shooting

FREDERICTON — Hundreds of people have lined the route of a funeral… Continue reading

Calgary police officer seriously injured

CALGARY — The Calgary Police Service says one of its officers was… Continue reading

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

MONTREAL — Canadian politicians are adding their voices to the international reaction… Continue reading

‘Four of a dozen kids will not make it:’ Tina Fontaine’s family healing together

WINNIPEG — Melissa Stevenson was just starting her career 18 years ago… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $16 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $16 million jackpot… Continue reading

Hundreds of neo-Nazis march in Berlin, protected by police

BERLIN — Hundreds of neo-Nazis waving flags with the colours of the… Continue reading

Romanian trucker is Genoa bridge’s 43rd victim

GENOA, Italy — The Latest on the Italy bridge collapse (all times… Continue reading

1 dead, 6 injured after building collapse in Nigeria capital

ABUJA, Nigeria — An emergency response chief says one person is dead… Continue reading

Most Read