The 2013 NHL playoffs will get underway this week with the race for the Stanley Cup definitely starting to heat up. And thanks to the dramatic run of the Los Angeles Kings last season, the question many are asking this year as to whether we will see another giant-killing run take place this season or not.
The Kings came into the Stanley Cup as the No. 8 seed but were able to use their suffocating defense to lead them all the way to the title—something that all 16 teams will be looking to replicate this year.
More-fancied teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins are the favorites for the trophy this year, but there's still a number of upsets that could take place this year. And like the Kings' remarkable run last year, they could very well end up happening in the first-round.
Which first-round series could provide an upset this year?
Read on and find out.
2013 NHL Playoffs: Biggest Upsets to Watch For
 Montreal Canadiens vs.  Ottawa Senators
The Canadiens come into the playoffs this year with the No. 2 seed in hand, but without the greatest form line behind them. They've gone 4-6-0 in their last 10 games and goalkeeper Carey Price isn't showcasing the same dominance that he was earlier in the year—leaving much of the responsibility to their offense, and it's ability to creatively find the back of the net.
Ottawa is slowly getting its starters back from injury and are seemingly peaking at just the right time this year. Erik Karlsson's unexpected return has given them a huge boost and despite losing seven of their past 13, they've now got the talent on hand to shock Montreal in their first-round series.
Craig Anderson (now healthy) has saved 42 of his last 45 shots, and in games when Karlsson plays, the Senators out-shoot their opponents 16-11.
Even against a powerful offense in the Canadiens, Ottawa is a big chance here.
 Vancouver Canucks vs.  San Jose Sharks
Coming into the playoffs with a 5-4-1 record in their last 10 games, the Vancouver Canucks don't boast the most impressive form line. Moreover, they seemingly have the magic touch of drawing the wrong teams in the playoffs, with their last two postseason campaigns ending in defeat to the eventual winner of the Stanley Cup (Boston Bruins, 2011 and Los Angeles Kings, 2012).
Roberto Luongo has been exceptional of late, but the Canucks have struggled to take advantage of home-ice this season, and could experience a similar fate here.
Games at the Rogers Arena this year have seen Vancouver concede almost as many even-strength shots as they've created. And whilst that might not seem like much, the Sharks are going to be very tough to take down at home this year (17-2-5), and any advantage that they give San Jose away from may well be enough to swing home-ice advantage away from Vancouver.
One early win on the road could be all it takes for San Jose to win this series, who won all three times they played the Canucks this season.
 Washington Capitals vs.  New York Rangers
It might seem bizarre to suggest that Washington is on upset alert after going 8-1-1 in its last eight games and having Alexander Ovechkin on their roster.
Moreover, the Caps been devastating on the power play all year, going 19-9-2 when they score a power-play goal, which has happened 44 times on 164 chances.
However, against the Rangers, those skills will not be as effective.
The Rangers are the least penalized team in the league (9.2 per game), and won't give the Capitals the advantage on the powerplay here. They'll keep much of the series at five-on-five, where their star goalkeeper, Henrik Lundqvist, will be able to establish his dominance against Washington again.
New York was considered an early contender for the Eastern Conference this year, and whilst its style might have changed since the Marian Gaborik trade, their talent is not. This is a deep team with multiple personnel capable of toppling the Capitals, who, regardless of how well they might be playing now, still have that 2-8-1 streak to start the season to their name.
Look for the Rangers to keep this series tight and force the Capitals into mistakes, which they'll take to full advantage when given the opportunity.
2013 NHL Playoffs: Complete First-Round Schedule
Note: All times listed as ET; schedule courtesy of NHL.com.
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (8) New York Islanders
|1||Wednesday, May 1||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|2||Friday, May 3||7 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|3||Sunday, May 5||12 p.m.||NBC, TSN|
|4||Tuesday, May 7||7 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|5*||Thursday, May 9||7 p.m.||TSN|
|6*||Saturday, May 11 ||TBD||TSN|
|7*||Sunday, May 12||TBD||TSN|
2) Montreal Canadiens vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
|1||Thursday, May 2||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS, CNBC|
|2||Friday, May 3||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS, CNBC|
|3||Sunday, May 5||7 p.m. ||CBC, RDS, NBC Sports|
|4||Tuesday, May 7||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS, CNBC|
|5*||Thursday, May 9||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS|
|6*||Saturday, May 11||TBD||CBC, RDS|
|7*||Sunday, May 12||TBD||CBC, RDS|
(3) Washington Capitals vs. (6) New York Rangers
|1||Thursday, May 2||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|2||Saturday, May 4||12:30 p.m.||NBC, TSN|
|3||Monday, May 6||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|4||Wednesday, May 8||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|5*||Friday, May 10||7:30 p.m.||TSN|
|6*||Sunday, May 12||TBD||TSN|
|7*||Monday, May 13||TBD||TSN|
(4) Boston Bruins vs. (5) Toronto Maple Leafs
|1||Wednesday, May 1||7 p.m.||CNBC, CBC, RDS|
|2||Saturday, May 4||7 p.m.||CNBC, CBC, RDS|
|3||Monday, May 6||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS, NHL Network|
|4||Wednesday, May 8||7 p.m.||CBC, RDS, NHL Network|
|5*||Friday, May 10||7 p.m.||CNBC, CBC, RDS|
|6*||Sunday, May 12||TBD||CNBC, CBC, RDS|
|7*||Monday, May 13||TBD|
CNBC, CBC, RDS
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (8) Minnesota Wild
|1||Tuesday, April 30||8 p.m.||NBC Sports, CBC|
|2||Friday, May 3||9:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, CBC|
|3||Sunday, May 5||3 p.m.||NBC, CBC|
|4||Tuesday, May 7||9:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, CBC|
|5*||Thursday, May 9||TBD||CBC|
|6*||Saturday, May 11||TBD||CBC|
|7*||Sunday, May 12||TBD||CBC |
(2) Anaheim Ducks vs. (7) Detroit Red Wings
|1||Tuesday, April 30||10:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|2||Thursday, May 2||10 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|3||Saturday, May 4||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports, TSN|
|4||Monday, May 6||8 p.m.||CNBC, TSN|
|5*||Wednesday, May 8||10 p.m.||TSN|
|6*||Friday, May 10||TBD||TSN|
|7*||Sunday, May 12||TBD|
(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) San Jose Sharks
|1||Wednesday, May 1||10:30 p.m.||TSN, NBC Sports|
|2||Friday, May 3||10 p.m.||TSN, CNBC|
|3||Sunday, May 5||10 p.m. ||NBC Sports, TSN|
|4||Tuesday, May 7||10 p.m.||CNBC, TSN|
|5*||Thursday, May 9||10 p.m.||TSN|
|6*||Saturday, May 11||TBD||TSN|
|7*||Monday, May 13||TBD||TSN |
(4) St. Louis Blues vs. (5) Los Angeles Kings
|1||Tuesday, April 30||8 p.m.||CNBC, CBC|
|2||Thursday, May 2||9:30 p.m.||CNBC, CBC|
|3||Saturday, May 4 ||10 p.m.||NBC Sports, CBC|
|4||Monday, May 6||10 p.m.||NBC Sports, CBC|
|5*||Wednesday, May 8||TBD||CBC|
|6*||Friday, May 10||TBD||CBC|
|7*||Monday, May 13||TBD||CBC |
* denotes if necessary.
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