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Question No. 1: Which of these coach's jobs is most in peril if they don't have some degree of playoff success (excluding obvious choices of top seeds, Alain Vigneault in Vancouver and Bruce Boudreau in Washington): Claude Julien (BOS), Todd McLellan (SJ) or Barry Trotz (NSH)?
Bob McKenzie: Claude Julien. I don't know how you could pick anybody else. The expectation for the Bruins is off the charts this year. If they go out in the first round, he's not going to lose his job, Cam Neely is going to eliminate everybody in Boston if they lose in the first round.
Aaron Ward: Claude Julien. You've heard of the magic eight ball? This is the magic eight wins. Nothing short of the third round will be successful for them. There are a lot of other people's jobs tied to his success and the team's success.
Darren Dreger: It's a clean sweep, I'm going with Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins for a couple of reasons. Pete Chiarelli, the general manager, added key components. This is a cap spending team. But boy are we tough on these guys. One game into the playoffs and we're firing coaches.
Question No. 2: Who will emerge as this playoff year's most hated player by opponents: Dan Carcillo (PHI), Maxim Lapierre (VAN), Brad Marchand (BOS) or PK Subban (MTL)?
Bob McKenzie: Brad Marchand in Boston. He's a terrific hockey player. 20-goal scorer, great rookie, plays in the top-six. But even in Game 1 it didn't take long for him to get into it with Scotty Gomez. Before it's all said and done, this guy will be public enemy No. 1 with a lot of teams.
Aaron Ward: Marchand. His playing style and his personality, he's making no friends: he's making golf swing motions to teams that have been eliminated and also offering up his opinion about what the league should do with (Matt) Cooke while he's serving his suspension. No friends around the league.
Darren Dreger: I'm going off the board and I'm going to Tampa Bay where we find Steve Downie. This guy has the potential to be a terrific shift disturber and that's the type of play that he's got to bring to the table every game as this postseason continues. A good two-way guy too: but if he mixes it up, if he plays the body then he can play the role we're defining.
Question No. 3: Which player traded during the deadline period can breathe easiest now that he's had an impact right away in the playoffs: Mike Fisher (NSH), Chris Higgins (VAN), Alex Kovalev (PIT) or James Neal (PIT)?
Darren Dreger: James Neal. It was questionable as to whether or not he would be healthy enough to play. He wants to make a big impression in playing in the playoffs for the Pittsburgh Penguins and he did that on opening night with an assist. He had a couple of hits and the potential to be a key contributor on both ends.
Aaron Ward: Mike Fisher. With two goals and one assist, he's shifted the focus off the Nashville Predators. They're breathing a lot easier and now you've got the Anaheim Ducks reeling a bit. For the Nashville Predators and Mike Fisher he stepped up, he's moving his team along in the right direction. (Matthew) Lombardi is not there, (Marcel) Goc is not there, and the focus is now back on the Anaheim Ducks.
Bob McKenzie: I'll say Chris Higgins of the Vancouver Canucks. When he got that early goal, it took a lot of pressure off the Vancouver Canucks, but it also took a lot of pressure off him. Coming into Vancouver it's a pressure cooker, it's a real tough environment, and if you don't contribute and you're a traded player people are going to keep wanting something from you and he's automatically given them something. They're happy in Vancouver today.
Question No. 4: Which was the best reaction shot from opening night of the playoffs: Martin St. Louis after taking a stick in the mouth; Rangers GM Glen Sather after video review awarded the Capitals a goal against the Rangers; George McPhee after Alex Semin's OT Winner: or Brian Campbell after thinking he scored on Roberto Luongo?
Aaron Ward: Glen Sather doing his best Mr. Magoo, Wilford Brimley impersonation, post-exploding cigar. The fact that he appears to be in complete meditation while a goal is called for the Washington Capitals baffles me, that he's not even engaged in the game.
Darren Dreger:I tend to agree, but best and worst. The best was the celebration when the referee pointed to centre ice that the Washington Capitals had scored. But the worst was Glen Sather. What is he, a statue sitting there? He's got no mannerisms, there's no movement, his heart rate didn't go up two beats after that goal.
Bob McKenzie: I'll go with George McPhee. The happiest guy, not even sheer happiness but relief because everybody knows that if the Washington Capitals lose Game 1 on home ice, everyone is going to be asking questions, everyone is going to be going nuts –the sky will be falling in DC. So George McPhee wins it for the sheer happiness relief.