NHL Playoffs 2012: Cup Favorites Who Won't Make It out of Round One

Ryan BothmannSenior Analyst IIApril 20, 2012

NHL Playoffs 2012: Cup Favorites Who Won't Make It out of Round One

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    The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is reaching its final days, but the action is getting very intense.

    Elimination games have begun, and we have already seen a team get sent home. One of the biggest storylines every year is which Stanley Cup favorites will get sent home early.

    As each series continues to progress, it looks more and more likely that some of the biggest favorites will be sent home early.

    Here is a look at three Stanley Cup favorites who will not make it out of the first round.

Vancouver Canucks

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    The Canucks-Kings series has proven to fans that nothing is guaranteed in the NHL Playoffs. Vancouver was able to pull a win out in game four against the Kings, but even though the series is back on their home ice for game five, the win may have come too late in the series.

    Los Angeles has been able to jump out to the lead in the series through a combination of strong goaltending and timely goals. Jonathan Quick has been outstanding for the Kings, and will need to put in one more great effort to help the Kings advance.

    For Vancouver, things have to start on the power play. The Canucks were 0-for-14 on the power play in the first three games and 2-for-3 in game four, their only victory of the series.

    It will take a supreme effort for Vancouver to get back in the series. While it's possible, the deficit is just too large for them to make up. The defending Western Conference Champions are in trouble.

New York Rangers

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    This is another series that has showed nothing is guaranteed in the playoffs. Although the Senators are the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, they have given the Rangers all they can handle so far.

    The Rangers and Senators have gone back and forth all series long, but look for Ottawa to make a big statement in game five Saturday night. The goaltending of Craig Anderson has been a big key for the Senators in holding the NHL's third-best scoring team in check, and things will have to stay that way for Ottawa to advance.

    The Rangers, who lost the season series to Ottawa, will need more production from their power play throughout the rest of the series. New York is 3-for-18 with the man advantage this series, but has missed out on key opportunities down the stretch in games.

    New York is definitely alive in this series, but I expect the Senators to come away with the series victory and send the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference packing.

Philadelphia Flyers

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    After dominating the first three games of the series, the Flyers are officially in trouble. Philadelphia still leads the series 3-2, but after suffering a 10-3 beatdown in game four, and then dropping game five, the Flyers have let the Penguins right back in the series.

    The Penguins are starting to click all across the ice right now, and that means that any team they play throughout the rest of these playoffs will be in for an extremely tough fight. The key for Pittsburgh will be for Marc-Andre Fleury to put up two more good efforts and prevent the Flyers from putting up a ton of goals like they did when they scored eight in games two and three.

    For the Flyers, it will be about breaking out offensively. It is nearly impossible to completely shut down the Pittsburgh attack. The only way to beat them is to accept that it will be an offensive game, and hope that you can put about six or seven pucks in the net. The Flyers were able to do this early on in the series, and that was why they were able to grab the early 3-0 series lead.

    Right now though, it just looks like the Penguins have figured things out. It will be hard for the Flyers to stop them now, and avoid being eliminated in round one.