NHL Playoff Predictions 2012: 20 Impact Players

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NHL Playoff Predictions 2012: 20 Impact Players
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

With 2,460 regular season games in the books, the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally here!

Gone from last year's playoffs are the Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference. They will be replaced by the Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators.

Only the Anaheim Ducks did not make the playoffs from last year's elite eight in the west, while the St. Louis Blues went from being a non-playoff team all the way up to the second seed and the Central Division Champions.

There will certainly be some great first round matchups this year, with some very intriguing storylines.  Here are a few players who will be key to their teams' success and will no doubt feel the heat if their teams fail.

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