New Faces In Playoffs

Archived from 2002-03 season.

NHL teams

The NHL playoffs are around the corner and six out of the 16 teams competing for Lord Stanley's cup weren't there a year ago.

In the West, Dallas, Anaheim, Minnesota and Edmonton are in after missing the playoffs last season, while San Jose, Phoenix, Chicago and Los Angeles are out.

"We started out a long way from a playoff berth, so it's been a very successful season," Anaheim's Paul Kariya said.

Washington and Tampa Bay return to the playoffs in the East. The Lightning will make their first appearance in the post-season play in seven years.

"It's my first time and it feels very good," Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier said. "I didn't know when a playoff season was ever going to come. In the last four years, losing was contagious. But it's funny - the more you win, the more you want to win. Individually, everyone brought it up a notch this year."

The biggest disappointments of the season included the San Jose Sharks, who were picked to go all the way by many. The Sharks fired their GM, coach and traded away their captain when their season unraveled and nobody knows were the franchise is now headed.

Then there are the New York Rangers, who will miss the playoffs for sixth consecutive season despite of the highest payroll in the league.

"This one is really disappointing for us," said 42-year-old Mark Messier, who hasn't decided whether he'll return for his 25th NHL season. "The Ranger fans are behind the team all the time. They expect a lot out of us."

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