The first round of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs has provided us with some memorable moments and monumental upsets. With parity in the NHL at a level where an upset isn't really that surprising, a couple of lower seeds have made their case for Cup contenders.
Overall number one seed Vancouver fell to eighth seeded Los Angeles in a remarkably brief 4-1 series. The Canucks entered the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Winning eight of nine to close the season was made irrelevant by the Kings. Los Angeles found their scoring touch to eliminate last years' Cup finalist in five games.
Consensus media favorite Pittsburgh also saw their Cup dreams come to a screeching halt at the hands of cross-state rival Philadelphia. The Flyers raced out to a 3-0 series lead before finishing the Penguins in in six games.
Both the Flyers and Kings series wins featured emerging stars and Conn Smythe candidates. Jonathan Quick stopped 164 of 172 shots against the high scoring Canucks, winning all three games in Vancouver. Claude Giroux showed the rest of the NHL why he is the man in Philadelphia, overshadowing and outscoring the duo of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
While the all-Pennsylvania series featured an absolute absence of defense until the final two games, the Kings-Canucks series highlighted just that. The Kings were struggling on offense all year, before finding some timely goal scoring from captain Dustin Brown.
There is a strong and odd connection between the Kings and Flyers that would make a Stanley Cup showdown particularly memorable. Each team has considerable obstacles to overcome in the next couple of weeks.
Here are eight reasons to root for a Stanley Cup Final featuring these two teams.