With the start of the NHL playoffs on Wednesday, 11 of the 20 former Wisconsin players to play in the pros this season will begin their pursuit of the coveted Stanley Cup trophy. Last season, Adam Burish and the Chicago Blackhawks brought the Badger family their 19th Stanley Cup victory. This season, Wisconsin will boast the highest number of former players of all collegiate teams in the playoffs.
Three members of last season’s national champion runner-up squad will make their playoff debuts in their rookie season. Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers will face off against the top-seed Washington Capitals.
Last year’s Hobey Baker Award winner Blake Geoffrion will skate alongside former Badger Ryan Suter as the Nashville Predators face the Anaheim Ducks and former Badger Brad Winchester.
Two Badgers of different generations will face off out west. Thirty-seven year old defenseman Brian Rafalski and the Detroit Red Wings have a first round matchup against 21-year old Kyle Turris and the Phoenix Coyotes.
Joe Pavelski and Danny Heatley were catalysts this season in leading San Jose to the Pacific Division title, the number two seed in the Western Conference, and a matchup with the Los Angles Kings. Their first round matchup will feature the duo against former Badger defenseman Davis Drewiske.
The Chicago Blackhawks secured the final seed in the west and will face the Vancouver Canucks. Eau Claire, Wisconsin native and former Badger Jake Dowell will lead them in their defense of last season’s title.