News: Vladimir Tarasenko (hand) practiced with the team Wednesday, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Analysis: Vladimir Tarasenko was a full participant in line rushes, as well as in the power play drills, so it's looking like he could be in the lineup for Thursday's Game 1 against the Blackhawks. Keep an eye out for confirmation on his status after Thursday's morning skate.
News: Jonathan Ericsson (finger) is not expected to return during the team's first round series with the Bruins, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports. Analysis: Jonathan Ericsson has been out since March 18 with a broken finger, and still needs to have three pins removed sometime next week. He'll likely have to wait for the second round to reunite with Niklas Kronwall as part of the Wings' top blue line pairing.
News: Derick Brassard (back) will play in Game 1 on Thursday against the Flyers, Steve Zipay of Newsday reports. Analysis: The center left practice Tuesday with a back issue, but claims he could have kept playing if it were a game. He said he feels 100-percent now, so his back should be a non-factor moving forward.
News: Brandon Prust (upper body) will return to the lineup for Wednesday's Game 1 against the Lightning, John Lu of TSN reports. Analysis: Brandon Prust hasn't played since March 18, but will draw back into the lineup Wednesday for the start of the playoffs. The winger recorded six goals, seven assists, and 121 PIM in 52 games during the regular season.
News: James Neal netted a hat trick and five points Dec. 29 against the Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh's Round 1 opponent. Analysis: The power forward suited up just two times against Columbus due to injuries and suspensions. James Neal concluded the regular season with three goals and six points in four games. The Penguins are healthier than they've been all season and Neal's power-play presence could prove key to Pittsburgh's success.
News: Ray Emery will start in net for Game 1 against the Rangers on Thursday, Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Analysis: With Steve Mason (upper body) out for Game 1, Ray Emery will get a shot to steal home ice advantage for the Flyers. Considering Mason isn't even traveling with the team to New York, there's a good chance Emery could get back-to-back starts to open the series.
News: Sidney Crosby scored two goals and seven points in five games against Columbus in 2013-14. Analysis: The Penguins captain averaged nearly five shots per game against the Blue Jackets (24 shots in five games). Surprisingly, he finished with just one power-play point on a team which went 6-for-17, but the Pens are healthier now than they've been all season long.
News: Marc-Andre Fleury will start Game 1 on Wednesday at home against the Blue Jackets. Analysis: Marc-Andre Fleury has flamed out in past postseasons, making Wednesday's performance crucial for his confidence. The Flower went 3-0, with a 1.33 goals-against average and .963 save percentage in the regular season versus the Blue Jackets. The numbers favor Fleury, even though his history suggests otherwise.
News: Steve Mason (upper body) will not play Thursday against the Rangers, Tim Panaccio of CSN Philadelphia reports. Analysis: Steve Mason won't make the trip to New York with the team, so there's a good chance Ray Emery will start each of the first two games of the team's first round series. Mason will likely take over the starting role upon his return, but we'll have to wait a couple days to find out when that will be.
News: Joe Vitale (upper body) took part in line rushes during Wednesday's morning skate, Pens Inside Scoop reports. Analysis: Joe Vitale hasn't played since March 20, but his presence in line rushes is a pretty good indicator that he's ready to return. The center recorded just one goal and 13 assists in 53 regular season games this year, so his absence wouldn't have a huge effect if he can't go.