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Commentary: Good clubs will exit NHL playoffs early

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The Colorado Avalanche rose from the dregs of a 29th-place finish last season to win the Central Division title, and the St. Louis Blues collapsed late in the regular season and lost their chance to finish atop the Central, Western Conference and the NHL overall.

The Boston Bruins’ reward for having the league’s best record is a first-round matchup with the ever-dangerous Detroit Red Wings, who overcame a flood of injuries to earn the second wild-card spot in the East. The series, which starts Friday, will be the first playoff meeting between these two Original Six teams since 1957, when Gordie Howe was throwing elbows and ruling the corners.

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