2013 NHL Playoffs: Lower-Seeded Teams Poised to Make a Run at the Cup

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2013 NHL Playoffs: Lower-Seeded Teams Poised to Make a Run at the Cup
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Pavel Datsyuk will have to be his regular point-producing self to help Detroit make a run at the Stanley Cup.

The NHL playoffs are perhaps the most unpredictable postseason in all of professional sports.

Just ask the Los Angeles Kings, the No. 8 seed in 2012 which eventually won the Stanley Cup.

It is the time of the year when anything can happen. Teams that are playing the best hockey entering the playoffs feel extremely confident while those that have snuck in rally behind the classic "anything can happen" sports adage.

A few lucky bounces certainly don't hurt a team's chances, either.

Let's take a look at a lower-seeded team in each conference that has the potential to win the Stanley Cup.  

 

New York Rangers, No. 6 in the East

The first order of business for the New York Rangers is to cool off the sizzling Washington Capitals, who finished the season 11-1-1 in April.

The Rangers have someone that is perfectly capable of putting an end to the Capitals' run and carrying them a long way. That would be goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Lundqvist posted a 2.05 goals-against average on the season, good for seventh in the NHL. The Rangers will rely heavily on Lundqvist to keep them in games, as scoring has been a problem area.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will need to come up clutch in net if the Rangers want to advance deep into the NHL playoffs.

The Rangers' scoring punch must be led by Rick Nash. He scored 21 goals on the season to lead the Rangers in that department. He must be creative and aggressive at left wing for the Rangers to succeed. 

Look for the Rangers to go deep in the playoffs if Lundqvist keeps games close and Nash scores timely goals.

 

Detroit Red Wings, No. 7 in the West

The Red Wings have made the NHL playoffs for the 22nd straight year, but just barely. They clinched the spot with their win over the Dallas Stars in their last regular-season game.

Once you're in, anything can happen—especially for such a storied franchise like the Red Wings. They will be taking on the Anaheim Ducks in the first round.

If the Wings are going to make a run, they will have to receive contributions from players not named Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg. Those two led the team in points with 49 and 48, respectively.

It will be up to players like Johan Franzen to help carry the scoring load. While Datsyuk and Zetterberg are creative enough to make plays on their own, opposing first-pairing defensemen will key on them, meaning other Wings forwards will be called upon to put the puck in the back of the net.

On the opposite end of the ice, look for goaltender Jimmy Howard to carry over his strong finish to the regular season (allowing four total goals in last five games) and steal games for the Red Wings.

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