April 30, 2013
MADISON, Wis. –- Now that the NHL’s regular season has concluded, a total of 14 former Badgers have the possibility of skating in the NHL playoffs, with a chance to win the Stanley Cup. Two of those Badgers make up two of the NHL’s three stars for the month of April. One of the Badgers not in the playoffs will instead represent Canada at the upcoming world championship – a tournament two other Badgers will skate in for Team USA.
Rene Bourque and Davis Drewiske play for the Eastern Conference’s second-seeded Montreal Canadiens. Drewiske, a late-season addition for Montreal, won the Stanley Cup last season with the Los Angeles Kings. The Canadiens, Northeast Division champions, take on seventh-seeded Ottawa. The Senators boast former Badger Kyle Turris, who finished the season as Ottawa’s leading point getter.
Also leading his team in points during the regular season was New York Rangers’ forward Derek Stepan. The NHL’s third star for the month of April has been on a long tear, with 19 points in 14 games during the month, and 44 points in the 48-game season. Former Badger defenseman Ryan McDonagh is also on the Eastern Conference’s sixth-seeded Rangers, who skate against the Washington Capitals in the first round.
St. Louis Blues’ goaltender Brian Elliott, the second star of the month for April, posted an 11-2-0 record, 1.28 goals-against average, .948 save percentage and three shutouts in 13 games during the month. His Blues, fourth-seeded in the Western Conference, take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
The sixth-seeded Western Conference team, the San Jose Sharks, boast Badgers’ Joe Pavelski and Adam Burish. They take on the Vancouver Canucks in the first round. Burish won the Cup in 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Seventh-seeded Detroit and defenseman Brendan Smith take on the Pacific Division champion Anaheim Ducks.
Also, the eighth-seeded Minnesota Wild take on the Western Conference and league champion Chicago Blackhawks. The Wild boast defensemen Ryan Suter and Tom Gilbert. Suter’s 32 points were good for third among all NHL defensemen. Injured forward Dany Heatley also plays for Minnesota, though his season appears to be finished after surgery. Forward Jake Dowell, a late-season call-up, played two games for the Wild.
Back to the Eastern Conference and the fifth-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs, defenseman Jake Gardiner has skated in 12 games during the season. The Leafs take on the fourth-seeded Boston Bruins.
The NHL playoffs begin tonight with best-of-seven first-round series between Minnesota and Chicago, St. Louis and Los Angeles, as well as Detroit and Anaheim.
NHL rookie defenseman Justin Schultz, who missed out on the playoffs with the Edmonton Oilers, will skate for Team Canada at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship that takes place in Finland and Sweden, May 3-19. Schultz led all NHL rookie defensemen with eight goals and 27 points. He joins Nashville’s Craig Smith and Carolina’s Jamie McBain who have already been named to Team USA.