2010 NHL playoffs: Western Conference 1st round matchups

With Detroit beating the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings coming back against Colorado, we now have our Western Conference matchups all set.

#1 San Jose Sharks vs. #8 Colorado Avalanche
This is a great matchup for the Avalanche, who have Craig Anderson to fall back on against a Sharks team that has struggled in the latter part of the season. Of course, the Sharks finished the season on a good run at the end, so perhaps their penchant for choking will end this year? It’s the veterans with something to prove against the young, inexperienced and hungry team. Should be fun.

#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #7 Nashville Predators
This is the most intriguing matchup for me. It’s two teams with completely different approaches to the game, with the Blackhawks coming in as a team with everything on the line. The Predators are a patient, defensive-minded team taking on a speedy, skilled and talented team with nothing but questions in net. Can Pekka Rinne be the spoiler for a great season by Chicago?

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs. #6 Los Angeles Kings
The Kings used and abused Jonathan Quick all season long, and it could turn around and hurt them in the playoffs. Quick played in 72 games this season, but hasn’t won since March 22, a run of eight games without a win. The Canucks have the Sedins; enough said.

#4 Phoenix Coyotes vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
Here is the most interesting matchup of them all. The veteran, experienced and wily Red Wings taking on Dave Tippett and the ultra surprising Phoenix Coyotes. This is the perfect scenario for the Coyotes and their fans, who get to host a playoff series against the most successful NHL team of the past decade.

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    Video: Shea Weber scores with blistering slap shot that destroyed Schenn’s stick

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    In case you didn’t know by now, here is more evidence that Shea Weber possesses a devastating slap shot.

    The Montreal Canadiens defenseman on Monday scored his second goal of the season, once again deploying his shot from the blue line. This time, he ripped a shot that busted the stick of Brayden Schenn, who was trying to get into the shooting lane, and still had enough behind it to beat Flyers’ goalie Steve Mason.

    That gave the Habs the lead.

    The Flyers responded later on in the second period on Jakub Voracek‘s third goal of the season.

    Christian Ehrhoff signs with Kolner Haie in Germany

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27: Christian Ehrhoff #10 of Team Europe looks on against Team Canada during the second period during Game One of the World Cup of Hockey final series at Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Christian Ehrhoff is finally under contract for this season, but not in the NHL.

    Ehrhoff, 34, signed with Kolner Haie in Germany, the team announced via Twitter on Monday.

    Most recently, Ehrhoff was with the Boston Bruins on a professional tryout (PTO) prior to the beginning of the season, but he opted not to sign with that club, instead deciding to return home to Germany.

    Ehrhoff also suited up for Team Europe at this fall’s World Cup of Hockey.

    In 789 NHL games, the puck-moving defenseman scored 74 goals and 339 points. His most productive seasons came with the Vancouver Canucks, as he helped that team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.

    As expected, Avalanche recall highly touted prospect Rantanen

    DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 21:  Mikko Rantanen #96 of the Colorado Avalanche warms up prior to facing the Carolina Hurricanes at Pepsi Center on October 21, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Hurricanes defeated the Avalanche 1-0 in overtime.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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    Last week, it was reported that Colorado Avalanche forward prospect Mikko Rantanen would re-join the team at some point this week.

    On Monday, the Avalanche made good on that plan, recalling Rantanen, the 2015 first-round pick, from San Antonio in the American Hockey League.

    The move comes after Toronto claimed Colorado forward Ben Smith off waivers, opening a spot up front for Colorado.

    Rantanen’s season got off to an unfortunate start. He suffered a sprained ankle in a rookie tournament, and was eventually sent down to the minors to get some playing time after coming back from the injury.

    It’s expected that Rantanen, who had an impressive rookie campaign in the minors with the Rampage despite still being a teenager, will be put into a top-six role right away for the Avalanche, which is averaging 3.2 goals a game early on.

    He scored 24 goals and 60 points in 52 games in the AHL last season, and had a small taste of the NHL. He began the season with the Avalanche, and was later recalled from the minors in the middle of March when Nathan MacKinnon went out with a knee injury.

    Rantanen, who later this week will turn 20 years old, didn’t register a point in nine games with the Avalanche last season. But he still did get that experience, as well as most of an AHL season under his belt, which could serve him well this time around.

    Given he is a 10th overall selection, and his numbers in Europe before the draft and in the minors as an NHL prospect, there are high expectations for what Rantanen could potentially do at the big-league level for an Avalanche team that already boasts highly skilled playmakers like MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Tyson Barrie.

    The Avalanche are in the midst of a break in their schedule, with five days between games.

    They don’t play again until Friday, when they host the Winnipeg Jets, so Rantanen’s season debut in Colorado will have to wait at least until then.

    Canucks recall training camp standout Stecher

    Vancouver Canucks' Alexander Edler, of Sweden; Joseph Labate; Alexis D'Aoust; James Sheppard; and Troy Stecher, from left, celebrate Labate's goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the second period of an NHL hockey preseason game Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    Didn’t take Troy Stecher long to get back up to the NHL.

    Stecher, the undrafted free agent out of North Dakota that starred for Vancouver in the preseason, has been recalled from AHL Utica along with forward Jayson Megna.

    The Canucks needed some fresh bodies from the farm following injuries to Alex Burrows, Derek Dorsett and, most distressingly, defenseman Chris Tanev. Tanev took a bad spill into the boards during Sunday’s loss to Anaheim, and appeared to be in serious discomfort.

    If he’s out for any length of time, it could be a problem.

    The 26-year-old is one of Vancouver’s top blueliners and a valued defensive defenseman. He’s averaging over 20 minutes per night this year, and is coming off a campaign in which he scored 18 points in 69 games, while averaging a career-best 21:45 TOI per night.

    Stecher, 22, could draw into the lineup for Tuesday’s home date against Ottawa as Tanev’s replacement, or the Canucks could give towering Russian rearguard Nikita Tryamkin his season debut.

    Tryamkin, who appeared in 13 games for Vancouver last year, has yet to dress but also refused assignment to Utica (he has an out clause allowing him to return to the KHL rather than report to the minors.)

    Update: General manager Jim Benning confirmed to Ben Kuzma of The Province that Burrows and Dorsett have been placed on injured reserve, and will be out a minimum of seven days.