NHL roundtable: best first round matchup; Bolts' fate, more

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Friday April 8th, 2016

Every Friday, a trio of SI.com staffers sits down for a discussion of the hockey world’s hot-button issues. This week, Michael Blinn, Sam Page and Al Muir dig into thrilling playoff matchups, Tampa Bay's revised status without Steven Stamkos, Russia's national team drug scandal, contentious Calder Trophy voting and the season's unlikeliest storyline.

First up:

The playoffs get underway next week. What's the one matchup you'd most like to see in the first round?
 
Michael Blinn: Put me down for seven games of St. Louis-Chicago. The Blackhawks’ offense is rolling right now, and Brian Elliott is a wall in the Blues’ net. Not to mention, some of the NHL’s marquee players at every position, and a few just waiting to bust out: Robby Fabbri, Jaden Schwartz, Teuvo Teravainen … not to mention, wouldn’t a return to form for recently recalled Bryan Bickell be kinda poetic?
 
NHL
Blues, Blackhawks get playoffs started early

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NHL
Drug scandal hits Russian U-18 team before world tournament
 
SP: Panarin wins because he has 20 more points than the next guy. The push for McDavid based on his rate stats is a Canadian exchange rate conspiracy. 
 
NHL
Notes: Prime trade bait; McDavid still has Calder shot
NHL
John Scott not thinking about end of his NHL career
 
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