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Red Wings are Cup favorites, but Sharks lurk

NEW YORK – The Detroit Red Wings find themselves in a familiar position – the favorite.

The defending Stanley Cup champions dropped to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference this year, behind the Presidents’ Trophy-winning San Jose Sharks, but they are again the team to beat as the postseason gets going Wednesday.

“Detroit is the defending Stanley Cup champion and they earned that,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Monday. “They are the defending team, and we look at them that way with that respect until there is a new champion.”

The Sharks, along with the other 15 teams to reach the postseason, certainly hope to be lifting the Cup high in the air in about two months. After several disappointing early ousters that led to the dismissal of coach Ron Wilson last year, San Jose has its eyes on the prize.

Expectations are even higher now that the Sharks (53-18-11) posted the NHL’s best record for the first time in team history. They added several players who captured the Cup in other places – including defensemen Rob Blake and Dan Boyle – and put the squad in the hands of rookie coach Todd McLellan, who had been an assistant with the champion Red Wings.

“Pressure is on all the teams in this league,” Doug Wilson said. “Every season is a new season and, if anything, you embrace your past because the experiences our players have gone through are very positive.

“They’ve played in probably more playoff rounds than just about anybody other than Detroit the last four or five years. That is a positive experience.”

The Red Wings will open defense of their title Thursday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are in the playoffs for the first time. San Jose will welcome the Anaheim Ducks that night, and No. 5 Calgary will visit the No. 4 Chicago Blackhawks, who haven’t been in the postseason since 2002.

The St. Louis Blues also make their return after three failed seasons that followed 25 consecutive trips to the playoffs. By moving up to sixth-place Sunday, they earned the right to play the Vancouver Canucks – who surged down the stretch behind All-Star goalie Roberto Luongo and won the Northwest Division.

That series begins Wednesday night, along with three Eastern Conference matchups.

The Washington Capitals bring the NHL’s leading goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin, and a year’s worth of experience into their series against the No. 7 New York Rangers, who are in the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

New Jersey seemed to be heading for another long run when it raced to the top of the Atlantic Division, even when record-setting goalie Martin Brodeur was sidelined for 50 games because of injury. The Devils held off Philadelphia for the division crown, but a late-season slump cost them the No. 2 seed.

Now they will have to deal with the sixth-seeded Carolina Hurricanes, perhaps the hottest team in the playoff field.

Philadelphia blew a chance to have home-ice advantage by losing Sunday to the Rangers, so the Flyers will start the Battle of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The Penguins ousted the Flyers in five games before falling to Detroit in six games with the Cup on the line.

The remaining East series kicks off Thursday when top-seeded Boston faces familiar playoff foe, Montreal.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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