2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin This Week

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The 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Wednesday night and the big news of the day (for us Blackhawks fans) was the announcement by the Chicago Blackhawks that Patrick Kane has been cleared to play in their series against the Nashville Predators that begins Wednesday night.  Kane has been out of the lineup since breaking his left clavicle on February 24 and having their second leading goal and point scorer back should give the Blackhawks the edge over the Predators.  The Detroit Red Wings made the playoffs for the 24th consecutive season and they announced today that Petr Mrazek will be starting in goal over the veteran Jimmie Howard.  The Red Wings open the playoffs Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning team led by General Manager Steve Yzerman.  My passion for hockey began with Steve Yzerman’s arrival in Hockeytown, playing for the Detroit Red Wings, in the mid 80’s and watching Yzerman lead the Red Wings to three Stanley Cup championships.  I have to admit after his retirement in 2006, the excitement I experienced watching the Red Wings led by Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Brett Hull, Chris Chelios, Darren McCarty and so many others from that time period faded.  It was not until I began watching the Chicago Blackhawks play a few years later that I found a team as exciting as the Yzerman years with the Red Wings.  Watching Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp win two Stanley Cups over the last five years has been great.  The Blackhawks and Red Wings join the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens as four teams of the Original Six in the playoffs.  The 2015 playoffs will have the most Canadian teams since 2004 (Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg) and two of the first round games will have Canadian match-ups with Montreal playing against Ottawa and Vancouver against Calgary.  A couple other players and teams I will be watching will be Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals vs. the New York Islanders.  I will be cheering for an Original Six Stanley Cup finals and with sixteen teams separated by only 16 points in the final standings it should be exciting hockey.

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