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Ten Badgers on seven teams set for NHL playoffs

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The 2011-12 NHL season featured 22 former Badgers, including some of the league's elite. Ten of those skaters continue on with their teams into the playoffs this week, with the possibility of at least one more. Wisconsin featured 11 former skaters in the 2011 NHL Playoffs.

The New York Rangers, who finished just two points shy of the President's Trophy this season enter the playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers feature two former Badgers in Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh. Stepan was fourth on the team this season with 17 goals and 51 total points. McDonagh meanwhile contributed 32 points in the regular season, second most among all Rangers defenders. New York takes on Ottawa in the first round of the playoffs.

Ottawa, which claimed the final playoff spot in the East, features former Badger Kyle Turris. Turris, who was an early-season contract hold-out, signed with Phoenix in late November before being dealt to Ottawa three weeks later. In his 49 games with the Senators this season, Turris has collected 12 goals and 29 points.

St. Louis also finished just two points short of the President's Trophy and enters the playoffs as the second seed in the Western Conference. The Blues have been led by two stellar goaltenders this season, including former Badger Brian Elliott. Elliott posted the top marks in the NHL in both save percentage (.940) as well as goals allowed average (1.56) for the regular season. Elliot's 1.56 goals allowed average is the lowest for an NHL goaltender since the 1939-40 season when Rangers goalie Dave Kerr notched a 1.54 mark. A 2006 national champion at Wisconsin, Elliott also posted nine shutouts, second most among all league goaltenders this season. He will share the Jennings Trophy with fellow Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak as the team with the lowest goals-against average during the regular season. St. Louis faces San Jose in the first round.

San Jose features two former Badgers. Joe Pavelski ranked 20th in the league this season with 31 goals while ranking fourth on the Sharks roster with 61 points. Teammate Brad Winchester has scored six times in 67 games for the Sharks this season. Also, former UW strength coach Mike Potenza serves as the Sharks' strength coach.

The Eastern Conference third-seeded Florida Panthers feature one former Badger skater in Jack Skille. The Madison native has 10 points in 46 games this season. The Panthers will take on New Jersey in the opening round.

Nashville, the fourth seed in the Western Conference features two more former Badgers. Ryan Suter and Craig Smith, one of the top rookies in the NHL, both participated in the NHL All-Star Game festivities this season. Suter finished fifth on the team in scoring with 46 points, while Smith put together 36 points, eighth-best for the Preds. Smith's 36 points also ranked eighth-best among all league rookies. The Predators match up with Detroit in the first round of the playoffs.

Possibly skating for the Red Wings in the opening round could be rookie defenseman Brendan Smith. Smith was called up to Detroit in late February and has played 14 games since, scoring once and tallying seven more assists.

The Los Angeles Kings, who claimed the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference, feature one former Badger in Davis Drewiske. The defenseman scored twice in nine games this season, but has sat out most of the year as a healthy scratch.

The run to the Stanley Cup begins Wednesday.

Skating for the Badgers in the NHL this season:
22 former Badgers skated in the NHL this year, including six who made their NHL debuts. Bolded skaters are on playoff teams.

Rene Bourque (Calgary and Montreal)
Adam Burish (Dallas)
Jake Dowell (Dallas)
Davis Drewiske (Los Angeles)
Brian Elliott (St. Louis)
Jake Gardiner (Toronto) - NHL DEBUT
Blake Geoffrion (Nashville and Montreal)
Tom Gilbert (Edmonton and Minnesota)
Cody Goloubef (Columbus) - NHL DEBUT
Dany Heatley (Minnesota)
Andrew Joudrey (Columbus) - NHL DEBUT
Jamie McBain (Carolina)
Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers)
Joe Pavelski (San Jose)
Joe Piskula (Calgary)
Jack Skille (Florida)
Brendan Smith (Detroit) - NHL DEBUT
Craig Smith (Nashville) - NHL DEBUT
Derek Stepan (New York Rangers)
Ryan Suter (Nashville)
Kyle Turris (Phoenix and Ottawa)

Brad Winchester (San Jose)

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