2011 NHL Playoffs Predictions: Top 10 Pre-Playoff Questions

Kamal PanesarCorrespondent IApril 13, 2011

2011 NHL Playoffs Predictions: Top 10 Pre-Playoff Questions

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    RALEIGH, NC - JANUARY 28:  Hockey fans pose with the Stanley Cup inside the NHL Fan Fair part of 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend at the Raleigh Convention Center on January 28, 2011 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    With the start of the 2011 NHL playoffs only a few hours away, the anticipation and excitement has reached fever pitch!

    The playoffs is always a great time of year, as the play on the ice is—generally speaking—superb and the enjoyment off of it is equally spectacular. In addition, the playoffs tend to spin off a lot of story lines as the teams wage war in the trenches.

    So before the puck drops tonight, I thought I'd steal out of my Hockeybuzz.com colleague's (Eric Engels) book and throw out my top 10 pre-playoff questions.

    Read them, love them and post your answers in the comment section!

    So here we go, in no particular order...

1: Vancouver Canucks/Chicago Blackhawks

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    VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 7: Fin, mascot of the Vancouver Canucks waves a team flag on the ice after the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Minnesota Wild in NHL action on April 07, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Imag
    Rich Lam/Getty Images


    Can the Vancouver Canucks get past their playoff nemesis—the Chicago Blackhawks—in the first round?

2: Roberto Luongo and the Canucks

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    VANCOUVER, CANADA - MARCH 31: Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks is congratulated by Christian Ehrhoff #5 after defeating the Los Angeles Kings in NHL action on March 31, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Ge
    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Can Roberto Luongo silence his critics and lead the Canucks to the promised land?

3: Another Miracle in Montreal?

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    NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 02:  P.K. Subban #76 of the Montreal Canadians congratulates goalie Carey Price #31 on a win over the New Jersey Devils in an NHL hockey game at the Prudential Center on April 2, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Get
    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    Do the Montreal Canadiens have another miracle run in them or will they be a "one-and-done" team this year?

4: Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks

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    ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 06:  Joe Thornton #15 of the San Jose Sharks skates against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on April 6, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Can Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks finally make a legitimate playoff run, or are they destined to be a regular-season success that fizzles in the postseason?

5: Who's the New Jaroslav Halak?

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Goalie Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators warms up prior to facing the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on March 31, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Rinne had 27 saves as the Nashville Predators defeated the Colorado Avalan
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Will Pekka Rinne be this year's Jaroslav Halak? And if so, how far will he lead the Nashville Predators?

6: Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals

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    SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 9: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates prior to the NHL game against the Florida Panthers on April 9, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Are the Washington Capitals really a changed team and can their new style of play lead them to a championship this year?

7: Guy Boucher and the Tampa Bay Lightning

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25:  Head coach Guy Boucher of the Tampa Bay Lightning works on the draft floor during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Can and will Guy Boucher's turnaround of the Tampa Bay Lightning continue in the postseason, or will the cracks start to show?

8: Chris Pronger and the Philadelphia Flyers

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 08:  Chris Pronger #20 of the Philadelphia Flyers stretches during warmups before an NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 8, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/G
    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    Is the loss of Chris Pronger too much for the Philadelphia Flyers to overcome?

9: A Repeat for the Chicago Blackhawks?

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 10: (L-R) Jonathan Toews #19, Brent Seabrook #7, Patrick Sharp #10, Marian Hossa #81 and Duncan Keith #2 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate keiths' 3rd period goal against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center on April 10, 2011 i
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Can the Chicago Blackhawks—minus Dustin Byfulgien, Andrew Ladd and others—repeat after backing into the playoffs?

10: Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 01:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins walks off the ice after being defeated 3-1 by the Washington Capitals during the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Heinz Field on January 1, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Can Pittsburgh get it done without Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby?

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