goaltenders, and also the Chicago guys.
Can the Canucks live up to expectations? Is this the year that the Sharks get the playoff monkey off their backs? Will the Red Wings make one more championship run? Shouldn't this preview have come out before all of the series had already started?
Read on for the answers to at least some of those questions.
#4 Anaheim vs. #5 Nashville
The matchup: Finally, "Mighty Ducks vs. Predators" is an NHL playoff series and not just the title of my unfinished screenplay for the greatest movie franchise crossover of all time.
The view from Anaheim: (Yes, I know they haven't been the Mighty Ducks since 2006, but that doesn't change the fact that you would totally go to see that movie.)
The view from Nashville: Leading scorer Sergei Kostitsyn is further proof that maybe the Montreal Canadiens should just stop trading away Belarusians.
Player to watch: Ryan Getzlaf, who continues to be cruelly mocked by linemates Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan for being born with only one first name.
Prediction: You picked the Ducks in this series, then changed it to the Predators after realizing your bracket needed at least one upset.
#3 Detroit vs. #6 Phoenix
The matchup: In a move borrowed from pro wrestling, the Coyotes have apparently secured a rematch with their rival by agreeing to a loser-leaves-town stipulation.
The view from Detroit: The franchise no doubt feels a strong urgency to win now, as most of its star players are only under contract for another decade or two.
The view from Phoenix: The fans will be asked to institute a "white out", in a helpful effort to prepare the players for what they'll be seeing every time they open their front door from October through April next season.
Player to watch: Henrik Zetterberg recently told reporters that he could miss several games, they think, although it was hard to hear him since his playoff beard had covered his entire upper body after the a few minutes.
Prediction: The dominant story will be the possibility of the Coyotes moving on to that one location they're always linked with but never seem to go: The second round of the playoffs.
#2 San Jose vs. #7 Los Angeles
The matchup: This all-California matchup will be perhaps the most exciting first round series that you watch highlights of on YouTube after falling asleep during the first period of every game.
The view from San Jose: Players report that Antti Niemi keeps talking about some mythical trophy you can win at the end of the playoffs; man, are those Finnish guys crazy or what?
The view from Los Angeles: Anze Kopitar will be sidelined for the rest of season with torn ligaments and a fractured ankle, which makes his matchup with Joe Thornton basically even.
Player to watch: The Kings decided not to have Brayden Schenn make his playoff debut to start the series, as they don't want all of Wayne Gretzky's franchise scoring records broken until round two.
Prediction: This will be the most important and newsworthy series of the first round, according to every hockey writer explaining to his editor why he needs to be the one sent to cover it.
#1 Vancouver vs. #8 Chicago
The matchup: This grudge match is the first round matchup that Vancouver fans were hoping for, according to that sobbing guy in the Canucks jersey curled up on the floor in the fetal position.
The view from Vancouver: Alain Vigneault recently scoffed at media reports that he's not a good playoff coach, before returning to practice to run the team's shootout drills.
The view from Chicago: If they need inspiration, all they have to do is look at last year's Stanley Cup team photo, and realize that… hey wait, why is Ryan Kesler lurking in the background?
Player to watch: Roberto Luongo, who must prove he can be a big-game goaltender after not leading a team to a major hockey championship in almost 14 months.
Prediction: The Blackhawks put up a good fight but lose the series, then have to explain to a confused Marian Hossa what an "offseason" is.