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With the Stanley Cup playoffs kicking off Wednesday, our experts took some time to ponder what lies ahead. Scott Burnside, Pierre LeBrun and Barry Melrose answer these 10 burning questions:
Pierre LeBrun: Manny Malhotra from the San Jose Sharks. Look for him to produce some clutch moments for the Sharks this spring.
Barry Melrose: Goalie Jimmy Howard. When I was in Detroit for the Frozen Four, the talk around the town was "Howard hasn't played a playoff game yet" and people think he's a question mark. But I think he'll surprise a lot of people.
LeBrun: Philadelphia. They won five of six against second-seeded New Jersey in the regular season.
Melrose: Colorado Avalanche. I think they have a shot against the San Jose Sharks.
LeBrun: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. I know, I know ... kind of obvious, but that's my pick.
Melrose: Ryan Miller from the Buffalo Sabres. It's his year.
LeBrun: Washington and Vancouver with the Capitals winning it all. I wouldn't be surprised if Detroit actually got the finals, but I'm looking for fresh blood and the Canucks have been terrific in the second half.
Melrose: Chicago versus Washington, Chicago wins. The greatest jerseys in all of sports, carrying the Cup around. I like it.
LeBrun: The Caps. The rival Penguins raised the bar last season, and anything short of at least a Cup finals berth would be a huge disappointment in Washington.
Melrose: San Jose. The Sharks have all the pressure of the world on them, especially if they lose one of those first two games at home against the Avs.
LeBrun: Buffalo-Boston and New Jersey-Philadelphia are my two picks for long, seven-game series. The higher seed lost the season series to the underdog, so that could be a factor.
Melrose: Phoenix versus Detroit and New Jersey versus Philly.
LeBrun: I think Niemi will carry the load throughout. I don't think Quenneville trusts putting Huet back in since he played him in only six games since the Olympic break.
Melrose: Niemi had a good year and his numbers are great. I think Niemi will be fine; he's behind a good hockey club. He doesn't see a lot of the shots other teams' netminders do.
LeBrun: I would love to see the Montreal Canadiens give the Caps a scare and get the best fans in hockey at the Bell Centre involved, at least for a bit. That's a crazy rink, and if Montreal could somehow come back with a road split, the Bell Centre might implode before Game 3.
Melrose: I would love to see a San Jose-Colorado Game 7. Knowing the pressure San Jose would be under, the energy in the building, it would be unbelievable.
LeBrun: I can't imagine there's any other answer to that question than Phoenix-Detroit. The franchise owned by the NHL versus the NHL's model franchise. The Coyotes are a wonderful Cinderella story. The savvy Wings have turned it on big time after the Olympics. Should be a doozy.
Melrose: Phoenix versus Detroit. Let's see how both teams react.
LeBrun: I'm a goatee man myself.
Melrose: I know I have a mullet; but if I can't go with a combo, then I have to say playoff beard.