Preview looking at the teams in action and picking out a potential winner.
The 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway on Tuesday, with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks opening up the post season against the Minnesota Wild.
With the match-ups confirmed and the schedules released, the Blackhawks are amongst the favourites to secure post season glory following a successful shortened regular season.
However, they join a whole host of teams confident of their chances this year, and will need to be in top form if they are to merely overcome Minnesota, with the bigger prize a long way off at this stage.
There are numerous intriguing clashes across the playoff bracket, which promises for an enthralling start to the post season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and face a New York Islanders team who haven’t been in the playoffs since 2007.
The Penguins are likely to receive a huge boost with Sidney Crosby returning for Game 1 on Wednesday, and having already won the regular season series 4-1 they won’t envisage too many problems in progressing past the first round.
It may not be quite as straight forward for the likes of the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals, who face the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers respectively.
The Canadiens didn’t quite end the season as they would have liked, and will find it a tricky proposition against their divisional rivals. Meanwhile, the Capitals and Ranger prepare for a re-match of a great second-round series from last year, with the former re-energised by a resurgent Alex Ovechkin.
Elsewhere, the Boston Bruins take on the Toronto Maple Leafs with the Leafs back in the playoffs for the first time in nine years, and will be desperate to perform well.
The Bruins have won three of four meetings in the regular season, but ended the campaign in disappointing fashion. However, they still have a similar squad to that which won the Cup two years ago, while the Leafs will arguably have nothing to lose.
The picture in the West is completed by the second seeded Anaheim Ducks taking on the Detroit Red Wings, the Vancouver Canucks face off against the San Jose Sharks while the St. Louis Blues come up against the Los Angeles Kings who are looking to secure a repeat Cup win.