Playoffs to feature several ex-Badgers
By: By Andy Baggot, The Wisconsin State Journal, Superior Telegram
Two headline moments in University of Wisconsin men’s hockey history will be revisited when the NHL playoffs begin tonight.
First-round matchups in the Stanley Cup postseason will pit standouts from the 2006 national championship team and two of a school-record three first-round NHL draft picks in 2007.
The marquee matchup in the Western Conference will have St. Louis goaltender Brian Elliott, a Hobey Baker Award finalist for UW in 2006, and San Jose center/right winger Joe Pavelski, who led the Badgers in scoring en route to the NCAA title that season, going head-to-head.
Elliott was an All-Star Game selection who set a franchise record with nine shutouts and led the NHL with a 1.56 goals-against average and a save percentage of 94.0. He and teammate Jaroslav Halak shared the William Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the NHL at 165.
Pavelski, meanwhile, scored a career-high 31 goals for the Sharks, becoming the sixth former UW player to score 30 or more in an NHL season. The others were Tony Granato, Dany Heatley, Mark Johnson, Scott Mellanby and Brian Mullen.
Another high-profile meeting of UW products has the New York Rangers facing Ottawa in the Eastern Conference. In 2007, Senators center Kyle Turris and Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh were chosen third and 12th, respectively, overall in the NHL Entry Draft. Along with defenseman Brendan Smith, who was tabbed 27th overall by Detroit, the Badgers had a trio of first-round draft picks for the first time in program history.
In all there are 10 former UW players vying to play for the Cup. The group includes four who led the Badgers in scoring at least once in their careers (Pavelski, Turris, Brad Winchester and Derek Stepan) and four who were chosen in the first round of the draft (McDonagh, Turris, Jack Skille and Ryan Suter).
There are three sets of UW players on NHL playoff entries: McDonagh and Stepan with the Rangers, Pavelski and Winchester with San Jose and Suter and Craig Smith with Nashville.
Four former Badgers still in the Stanley Cup hunt are from Skille, Craig Smith, Suter and Winchester — while Pavelski hails from Plover and Los Angeles defenseman Davis Drewiske is from Hudson.
The list of UW participants could change, though. Skille has been out since March 11 with an upper-body injury, and Brendan Smith is a strong candidate to be summoned from Adirondack, which is Detroit’s affiliate in the American Hockey League.
Twelve former UW players have won Stanley Cups as players. The most recent was Adam Burish with Chicago in 2010.
Two former UW standouts are assistant coaches on playoff teams — Granato with Pittsburgh and Scott Mellanby with St. Louis — while Madisonian Alex Brooks is a scout with Chicago.
Meanwhile, Wil Nichol, a Madisonian and former coach at UW-Stevens Point, is a scout with Washington.
Copyright (c) 2012 The Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by MCT Information Services