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Stanley Cup playoffs: Conference semifinals preview

Ducks to face former teammate Jonas Hiller, who will start in goal for the Flames

A look at the second-round Stanley Cup playoff series:


Anaheim 51-24-7 (109 points)

vs. Calgary 45-30-7 (97 points)

Ducks in 1st Round: def. Winnipeg, 4-0

Flames in 1st Round: def. Vancouver, 4-2

Power play: Season — Ducks 15.7% (28th); Flames 18.8% (13th). Playoffs — Ducks 27.3% (third), Flames 27.8% (second).

Penalty killing: Season — Ducks 81.0% (15th); Flames 80.6% (20th). Playoffs — Ducks 84.6% (fifth), Flames 81.2% (11th).

Top scorers: Season — Ducks, Ryan Getzlaf 25-45—70; Flames, Jiri Hudler 31-45—76. Playoffs — Ducks, Corey Perry 3-4—7; Flames, Hudler 3-3—6.

Outlook: Calgary has a dynamic top line with Hudler, rookie Johnny Gaudreau (two goals, six points) and Sean Monahan (two goals, five points). Its defensemen are good at jumping into the play. Former Duck and current Calgary goalie Jonas Hiller (2.20 goals-against average, .931 save percentage) might know the Ducks’ tendencies, but they know his. The Ducks have a formidable 1-2 punch at center with Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler. Cam Fowler’s mobility is a key asset to a balanced defense. Frederik Andersen (2.20, .924) was calm under siege against Winnipeg and must remain poised.

Pick: Ducks in six.


Game 1: Thursday at Anaheim, 7

Game 2: Sunday at Anaheim, 7

Game 3: Tuesday at Calgary, 6:30

Game 4: May 8 at Calgary, 6:30

Game 5: May 10 at Anaheim, TBD*

Game 6: May 12 at Calgary, TBD*

Game 7: May 14 at Anaheim, TBD*


Chicago 48-28-8 (102 points)

vs. Minnesota 46-28-8 (100 points)

Blackhawks in 1st Round: def. Nashville, 4-2

Wild in 1st Round: def. St. Louis, 4-2

Power play: Season — Blackhawks 17.6% (20th); Wild 15.8% (27th). Playoffs — Blackhawks 15.8% (ninth); Wild 33.3% (first).

Penalty killing: Season — Blackhawks 83.4% (10th); Wild 86.3% (first). Playoffs —Blackhawks 72.7% (13th); Wild 81.8% (10th).

Top scorers: Season — Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews 28-38—66; Wild, Zach Parise 33-29—62. Playoffs — Blackhawks, Toews 3-5—8; Wild, Parise 3-4—7.

Outlook: Chicago beat Minnesota in five games in 2013 and six games last season but the Wild is deeper and Vezina Trophy finalist Devan Dubnyk (2.32, .913) makes Minnesota better in goal. Right wing Nino Niederreiter (three goals, four points) and Parise came up big in the elimination of higher-seeded St. Louis. The Blackhawks are stretched thin on defense and goalie Corey Crawford (4.19, .850) lost his starting job to Scott Darling but has regained it. The core of Toews, Patrick Kane (two goals, seven points), Patrick Sharp (three goals, five points) and Marian Hossa (five assists) is intact.

Pick: Chicago in seven.


Game 1: Friday at Chicago, 6:30

Game 2: Sunday at Chicago, 5:30

Game 3: Tuesday at Minnesota, 5

Game 4: May 7 at Minnesota, 6:30

Game 5: May 9 at Chicago, TBD*

Game 6: May 11 at Minnesota, TBD*

Game 7: May 13 at Chicago, TBD*


N.Y. Rangers 53-22-7 (113 points)

vs. Washington 45-26-11 (101 points)

Rangers in 1st Round: def. Pittsburgh, 4-1

Capitals in 1st Round: def. N.Y. Islanders, 4-3

Power play: Season — Rangers 16.8% (21st); Capitals 25.3% (first). Playoffs — Rangers 15.0% (13th); Capitals 15.4% (11th).

Penalty killing: Season — Rangers 84.3% (sixth); Capitals 81.2% (14th). Playoffs — Rangers 84.6% (seventh); Capitals 100% (first).

Top scorers: Season — Rangers, Rick Nash 42-27—69; Capitals, Alex Ovechkin 53-28—81. Playoffs — Rangers, Derick Brassard 3-1—4; Capitals, Nicklas Backstrom 3-3—6.

Outlook: The Rangers held Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin scoreless and Sidney Crosby to four points in the first round and recorded four 2-1 victories. The Rangers have a good blend of speed and physicality, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist (1.53, .939) was his usual majestic self. The Capitals’ penalty killing was 14 for 14 against the New York Islanders but their power play must be better than two for 13. Ovechkin, the regular-season goals leader, had two against the Islanders but eight other Capitals each scored at least one. Braden Holtby (1.63, .943) is good but he’s no Lundqvist.

Pick: New York in six.


Game 1: Thursday at New York, 4:30

Game 2: Saturday at New York, 9:30 a.m.

Game 3: Monday at Washington, 4:30

Game 4: Wednesday at Washington, 4:30

Game 5: May 8 at New York, 4*

Game 6: May 10 at Washington, TBD*

Game 7: May 13 at New York, TBD*


Montreal 50-22-10 (110 points)

vs. Tampa Bay 50-24-8 (108 points)

Canadiens in 1st Round: def. Ottawa, 4-2

Lightning in 1st Round: def. Detroit, 4-3

Power play: Season — Canadiens 16.5% (23rd); Lightning 18.8% (14th). Playoffs — Canadiens 5% (15th); Lightning 6.7% (14th).

Penalty killing: Season — Canadiens 83.7% (seventh); Lightning 83.7% (eighth). Playoffs — Canadiens 75% (12th); Lightning 82.2% (ninth).

Top scorers: Season — Canadiens, Max Pacioretty 37-30—67; Lightning, Steven Stamkos 43-29—72. Playoffs — Canadiens, P.K. Subban 1-3—4; Lightning, Tyler Johnson 6-1—7.

Outlook: Montreal averaged two goals per game in the first round, the fewest of any team that advanced, but Carey Price (1.94, .939) made that paltry support hold up. Defenseman Subban led Montreal in scoring against Ottawa, and the Canadiens will need more from forwards Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher than the one goal each scored. Johnson was a revelation against Detroit, compensating for Stamkos being held to three assists. Tampa Bay’s speed and defense could cause more trouble than Montreal can handle.

Pick: Tampa Bay in six.


Game 1: Friday at Montreal, 4

Game 2: Sunday at Montreal, 3

Game 3: Wednesday at Tampa Bay, 4

Game 4: May 7 at Tampa Bay, 4

Game 5: May 9 at Montreal, TBD*

Game 6: May 12 at Tampa Bay, TBD*

Game 7: May 14 at Montreal, TBD*

*-if necessary

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