A look at some of the notable storylines heading into the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Columbus Blue Jackets will find out tonight if they’re picking first or second overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov said very little during his three-minute interview session, other than he’s unafraid of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
POST-GAZETTE: Penguins forwards James Neal and Steve Sullivan, who missed the final two games of the regular season, returned to practice Monday and are expected to be ready for the series-opener against the Flyers.
THE TENNESSEAN: Alexander Radulov skipped Predators practice yesterday for a maintenance day. Teammate Ryan Suter teased the media, saying Radulov had returned home to Russia.
DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard will face pressure to out-perform Predators starter Pekka Rinne.
BOSTON HERALD: Bruins blueliner Johnny Boychuk, who was fortunate to avoid a potentially serious knee injury in a recent late-season game, appears ready to go for his team’s first round tilt against the Washington Capitals. Fellow blueliner Adam McQuaid, however, appears doubtful for the series-opener on Thursday.
WASHINGTON POST: Can rookie Braden Holtby provide the Capitals with Stanley Cup calibre goaltending? He’ll have to if the Caps hope to advance beyond the first round.
STLTODAY.COM: It’s time for Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock to decide which goalie – Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott – to chose his starting goalie for their series opener against the San Jose Sharks. I’d go with Halak, as he has more playoff experience.
MERCURYNEWS.COM: The Sharks face a tall order in beating a Blues team which has owned them this season.
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Boyd Gordon and Antoine Vermette played key roles in the Coyotes success this season.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is confident he’ll be ready for the series opener against the Coyotes.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Devils coach Pete DeBoer isn’t seeking revenge against his former team, the Florida Panthers.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Panthers enter the playoffs without a captain.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Rangers forward Brad Richards is hoping for a long playoff run.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings center Anze Kopitar, who missed last year’s playoffs with a broken ankle, will be ready to go for the Kings series against the Vancouver Canucks.
COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets will find out tonight if they’ll get the first or second overall pick in this year’s entry draft as the 2012 NHL Draft Lottery will be held tonight.