First round of NHL playoff schedule released, Blues shouldn’t take Sharks lightly, Flyers and Penguins facing off again in playoffs, Zetterberg playing well heading into playoffs, Predators coach facing good test against Red Wings, Kovalchuk confident in Devils playoff chances, Capitals have reason for optimism against Bruins, Rask could be back for playoffs, Kings face stiff challenge against Canucks, and the latest on the Sabres, Stars, Hurricanes and Islanders.

NHL.COM: The schedule for the opening round of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs was released yesterday.

STLTODAY.COM: The San Jose Sharks may be underdogs, but the Blues shouldn’t take them lightly.

CSNPHILLY.COM: Another chapter in the long playoff rivalry between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins is set to open later this week. This series has the potential to be the best of the opening round.

Zetterberg stepping up at right time for Red Wings.

DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg seized the initiative over the final quarter of the season after center Pavel Datsyuk was sidelined. Zetterberg is a former playoff MVP, so having him playing his best heading into the opening round is a plus for a banged-up Wings team.

THE TENNESSEAN: With his most talented roster in years, Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz faces a unique challenge of motivating them to be at their best. I don’t believe that’s going to be a problem.

NEW YORK POST: Ilya Kovalchuk believes his New Jersey Devils can’t be beaten in the playoffs if they play their best. No, I don’t believe that’s arrogance on Kovalchuk’s part, or “bulletin board material” to motivate their rivals. Kovalchuk is simply confident in his team’s ability, and their first round opponent, the Florida Panthers, could find it tough to beat the Devils.

WASHINGTON POST: On paper, the Boston Bruins appear the better team, but the Capitals have reason for optimism in their first round series against the defending Stanley Cup champions, in part because of the return of Nicklas Backstrom from concussion.

CSNNE.COM: Bruins backup goalie Tuukka Rask, sidelined by an abdominal/groin injury, may be return to return for the playoffs.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings performance in the upcoming playoffs will be the ultimate judgement of their season.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes believe they need only a few roster tweaks to become a playoff contender next season.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Bucky Gleason remains puzzled over why Sabres GM Darcy Regier and head coach Lindy Ruff continue to hold their jobs. He’s not the only one, as many Sabres fans likely share his point of view.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars owner Tom Gaglardi said GM Joe Nieuwendyk and head coach Glen Gulutzan will return next season.

NEWSDAY: NY Islanders GM Garth Snow doesn’t anticipate a significant roster shakeup.