2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Mapping the Path to Hockey's Holy Grail

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2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Mapping the Path to Hockey's Holy Grail
Harry How/Getty Images
Lord Stanley's Cup will have a new winner for the 14th consecutive season in 2012.

There has been a little bit of everything in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Dirty hits, fights, upsets, overtimes...because it's the Cup.

Every Eastern Conference series has gone at least six games, leaving them still sorting out the next round on Thursday while the Western Conference has stood poised to move on since Monday. The NHL announced they will begin play Friday.

If there are Eastern Conference games on Tuesday and Saturday of next week, we can hockey on every day until the first domino of the second round falls. True followers of the greatest playoff competition in the world are always looking ahead.

That is especially true when there are so many good storylines.

For instance, there were a high number of road wins the first round. There are a lot of new faces in the second round.

Even as a fan of an established team, I know this is good for the league. The unpredictability of an open competition sparks interest and debate, which sparks more interest and debate...

Fans and writers love to make predictions. There are milestones by which these often fall, and the biggest two are the preseason and right before the playoffs begin. 

Often the actual games do not go as we expected in the first round, leaving many a savvy forecaster kicking his or her proverbial wounds. Some of us are just arrogant enough to give it another try, assuring our readers we have done better in the past and are not totally devoid of any prediction prowess...

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