The NHL’s first round playoff match-ups are set, schedule to be announced Sunday, Evgeni Malkin scores 50th goal and clinches scoring title, Steven Stamkos pots his 60th goal, Coyotes and Panthers clinch first division titles, Red Wings to open playoffs on the road, and more.
NHL.com: The match-ups for the opening round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs are set, and the complete schedule will be announced later today. I’ll have my first round prediction posted in the “Soapbox” section on Wednesday.
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Evgeni Malkin scored his 50th goal and secured the Art Ross trophy as the league’s top scorer as the Penguins downed the Philadelphia Flyer 4-2 in what was a preview of their opening round series.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning forward Steven Stamkos became the first player in four years to score 60 goals in a season in a 4-3 OT victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Phoenix Coyotes may face an uncertain future, but their present is set, winning their first division title in franchise history, and squaring off in the opening round of the playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers clinched their first division title in franchise history, and will face the New Jersey Devils in the first round.
DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings fell in a shootout to the Chicago Blackhawks, and will open the playoffs on the road against the Nashville Predators.
MERCURYNEWS: The San Jose Sharks look forward to being the underdogs as they square off in their first round series against the St. Louis Blues.
WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals secured the seventh seed in the East with a 4-1 win over the NY Rangers and will face the Boston Bruins in the first round.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild’s late surge after they were knocked out of playoff contention can’t mask the fact their offensive production was terrible this season, and a contributing factor to their second half swoon.
Elsewhere, the LA Kings will face the Vancouver Canucks, and the NY Rangers will be meeting the Ottawa Senators in the opening round of the 2012 NHL playoffs. More on this in “Canadian Corner”.