Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Round 1 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally here and the first round of games begin tonight.

Mar 4, 2017; Montreal Canadiens left wing Dwight King (21) and New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76); Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

New York Rangers vs Montreal Canadiens

When it comes to facing each other in playoff games, these two teams are no strangers. This is the second time in three years that the Canadiens and the Rangers will play each other in the playoffs.

Regular Season Records

This season the Rangers went 48-28-6 and finished 4th in the Metropolitan Division. Montreal finished their regular season with a 47-26-9 record and finished 1st in the Atlantic Division.

Playoff History

In the spring of 2014, these two teams met in the Eastern Conference Finals. During Game 1, Canadiens goalie Carey Price had a collision with the Rangers’ Chris Kreider. Eventually, the Rangers eliminated the Canadiens in Game 6 of the series.

It is also worth mentioning that two of the NHL’s top goalies will face each other during this series in the form of the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist and the Canadiens’ Price.

Preparation

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault commented that even though this first game will be a challenge, it will be a good challenge and a great opportunity.

“There’s no doubt that there’s been a lot of preparation that has gone into this first game,” Vigneault said. “I think everybody is excited about this opportunity here. We know we are playing against a very good team.”

The first game of the series is at 7 p.m. tonight from the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Columbus Blue Jackets vs Pittsburgh Penguins

This Eastern Conference playoff series will be a battle of the Metropolitan Division. No. 2 Pittsburgh and no. 3 Columbus begin their series tonight at 7:30 from the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

Regular Season Records

The Penguins finished their regular season with a 50-21-11 record while the Columbus Blue Jackets finished with a 50-24-8 record.

Apr 9, 2017; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Matt Calvert (11); Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff History

Currently, the Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup champions. By comparison, the Blue Jackets have only been in the playoffs twice in franchise history.

This will be the second time the teams face each other in round one of the playoffs in the last four seasons. In spring of 2014, the Blue Jackets won two games during round one of the playoffs against the Penguins before being eliminated.

Returning to the Ice

After missing several games this season due to an upper-body injury, Penguins’ forward Evgeni Malkin will return for Game 1.

Malkin sat out for almost a month and even commented that he is uncertain about how comfortable he will feel during his first game.

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