This year's installment of the NHL Playoffs will indeed hold many exciting stories, and will include several surprises that will likely cause many to fret.
At this point, many teams are still jockeying for a position many looking to finish anywhere between first in their division or eighth in the conference. Edmonton and Nashville are still lethal threats...and Detroit must hope that none of the major cogs responsible for regular season success go down to injury as players for Columbus and St. Louis battle for next years jobs.
Coaches for these teams in the hunt will start the hot goalie, put the quick rookie on the top line and ask the tough guys to "foil up" perhaps more then once a game in order to gain advantages. Wayne Gretzky is showing that his Coyotes are also a team to be reckoned with as they continue to play hard and to the last mintue. The Calgary Flames sat Kristian Huselius against Vancouver the other night (see M.MacDonald-Hall's in-depth articles) he may sit against Edmonton on Saturday as well. Huselius is second in total scoring for the Flames which makes the move that much more notable.
The Montreal Canadiens have reeled off many impressive wins including an impressive eight-game sweep of the Boston Bruins. The Ottawa Senators barely register excitement from their own fans as they continue to swoon and play uninspired hockey.
The Maple Leafs are once again coming together too late and have little chance to actually make the privileged 16 but still have the chance of creating trouble for those teams trying to keep ahead of them. Buffalo could see themselves looking at the loss of Briere, Drury, Campbell will even heavier hearts.
These are just a couple of issues surrounding the playoffs as I see it. Hope it is just the start.