2014 NHL Playoffs: Several former Badgers set to skate in the postseason

Defenseman Brendan Smith is expected to play a big role for Detroit in the playoffs. - Kirk Irwin - Getty Images

11 former Badgers are on NHL rosters as the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Wednesday.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Wednesday night and a number of former Wisconsin men's hockey players are expected to skate in big roles.

At this point, 11 former Badgers are on rosters of teams who reached the postseason and more could potentially be added as the AHL season wraps up.

Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh are expected to play significant roles for the New York Rangers as they face off with the Philadelphia Flyers. Both players have excelled since returning from the Olympics in Sochi, and McDonagh has even been mentioned as a potential Norris Trophy candidate as the best defenseman in the NHL.

San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski is another player who will draw headlines this week as the playoffs begin. The former Wisconsin All-American finished the regular season third in the NHL in goals with 41 and ninth in points with 79.

Brian Elliott had another big season for the St. Louis Blues, winning 18 games and losing just six in regulation while carrying a .922 save percentage. While the Blues added high-profile goaltender Ryan Miller at the trade deadline, don't be surprised to see Elliott play as Miller has been awful down the stretch.

The Detroit Red Wings' Brendan Smith enjoyed his best season as a pro and will be relied upon to play big minutes when the Wings attempt to upset the Boston Bruins in the first round. As a versatile player, Smith has spent time at both forward and defense this season due to injuries.

Arguably the most important player to any team this Stanley Cup Playoffs will be Ryan Suter with the Minnesota Wild. Suter logged 2,411:54 of ice time this season, the most in a single season since Brian Leetch (2,449:19) in 1998-99.

Other former Badgers who will be in the playoffs include Jack Skille (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Rene Bourque (Montreal Canadiens).

One former Badger whose playoffs are in jeopardy is Adam Burish, who suffered a serious hand injury while blocking a shot in late March. Burish's status is not yet known at this time.

Two other players with uncertain playoff features include Dany Heatley and Jake Dowell, both with the Minnesota Wild. Dowell is on the roster for added center depth and isn't expected to play unless there are a number of injuries. Heatley has been a lightning-rod for Wild fans all season, and looks to be the 13th forward as Minnesota prepares to face the Colorado Avalanche in the first round.

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs TV Schedule

Detroit Red Wings (Brendan Smith) vs. Boston Bruins
GAME DATE TIME (ET) EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND NATIONAL TV
1 Fri, Apr 18 7:30 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBCSN, TSN
2 Sun, Apr 20 3 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBC, TSN
3 Tue, Apr 22 7:30 p.m. Boston at Detroit NBCSN, TSN
4 Thu, Apr 24 8 p.m. Boston at Detroit NBCSN, TSN
5* Sat, Apr 26 3 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBC, TSN
6* Mon, Apr 28 TBD Boston at Detroit TSN
7* Wed, Apr 30 TBD Detroit at Boston TSN
Montreal Canadiens (Rene Bourque) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
GAME DATE TIME (ET) EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND NATIONAL TV
1 Wed, Apr 16 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS, CNBC
2 Fri, Apr 18 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS, CNBC
3 Sun, Apr 20 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, RDS, NBCSN
4 Tue, Apr 22 7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, RDS, NHLN U.S.
5* Thu, Apr 24 7 p.m. Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS, CNBC
6* Sun, Apr 27 TBD Tampa Bay at Montreal CBC, RDS, NBCSN
7* Tue, Apr 29 TBD Montreal at Tampa Bay CBC, RDS
Columbus Blue Jackets (Jack Skille) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
GAME DATE TIME (ET) EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND NATIONAL TV
1 Wed, Apr 16 7:30 p.m. Columbus at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC
2 Sat, Apr 19 7 p.m. Columbus at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC
3 Mon, Apr 21 7 p.m. Pittsburgh at Columbus NBCSN, CBC
4 Wed, Apr 23 7 p.m. Pittsburgh at Columbus NBCSN, CBC
5* Sat, Apr 26 TBD Columbus at Pittsburgh CBC
6* Mon, Apr 28 TBD Pittsburgh at Columbus CBC
7* Wed, Apr 30 TBD Columbus at Pittsburgh CBC
Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Rangers (Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh)
GAME DATE TIME (ET) EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND NATIONAL TV
1 Thu, Apr 17 7 p.m. Philadelphia at NY Rangers CNBC, TSN
2 Sun, Apr 20 Noon Philadelphia at NY Rangers NBC, TSN
3 Tue, Apr 22 8 p.m. NY Rangers at Philadelphia CNBC, TSN
4 Fri, Apr 25 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Philadelphia CNBC, TSN
5* Sun, Apr 27 Noon Philadelphia at NY Rangers NBC, TSN
6* Tue, Apr 29 TBD NY Rangers at Philadelphia TSN
7* Wed, Apr 30 TBD Philadelphia at NY Rangers TSN
Minnesota Wild (Ryan Suter, Dany Heatley, Jake Dowell) vs. Colorado Avalanche
GAME DATE TIME (ET) WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND NATIONAL TV
1 Thu, Apr 17 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Colorado CNBC, TSN
2 Sat, Apr 19 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Colorado NBCSN, TSN
3 Mon, Apr 21 7 p.m. Colorado at Minnesota NHLN U.S., TSN
4 Thu, Apr 24 9:30 p.m. Colorado at Minnesota CNBC, TSN2
5* Sat, Apr 26 TBD Minnesota at Colorado TSN
6* Mon, Apr 28 TBD Colorado at Minnesota TSN
7* Wed, Apr 30 TBD Minnesota at Colorado TSN
Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues (Brian Elliott)
GAME DATE TIME (ET) WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND NATIONAL TV
1 Thu, Apr 17 8 p.m. Chicago at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC
2 Sat, Apr 19 3 p.m. Chicago at St. Louis NBC, CBC
3 Mon, Apr 21 8:30 p.m. St. Louis at Chicago CNBC, CBC
4 Wed, Apr 23 9:30 p.m. St. Louis at Chicago NBCSN, CBC
5* Fri, Apr 25 8 p.m. Chicago at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC
6* Sun, Apr 27 3 p.m. St. Louis at Chicago NBC, CBC
7* Tue, Apr 29 TBD Chicago at St. Louis CBC
Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks (Joe Pavelski, Adam Burish)
GAME DATE TIME (ET) WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND NATIONAL TV
1 Thu, Apr 17 10:30 p.m. Los Angeles at San Jose NBCSN, CBC
2 Sun, Apr 20 10 p.m. Los Angeles at San Jose NBCSN, CBC
3 Tue, Apr 22 10 p.m. San Jose at Los Angeles NBCSN, CBC
4 Thu, Apr 24 10:30 p.m. San Jose at Los Angeles NBCSN, CBC
5* Sat, Apr 26 TBD Los Angeles at San Jose NBCSN, CBC
6* Mon, Apr 28 TBD San Jose at Los Angeles CBC
7* Wed, Apr 30 TBD Los Angeles at San Jose CBC
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