With two dominant No. 1 seeds sitting as big favorites to battle it out for the Stanley Cup, the massive upset potential in these playoffs is flying a bit under the radar.
With the shortened season robbing teams time to gel and climb up the rankings, we have a handful of squads just now hitting their stride, and entering the playoffs with a seed lower than their current level of play deserves.
This all sets up for two big upsets in the first round, and one a little further down the line.
No. 7 Detroit Red Wings over No. 2 Anaheim Ducks
The Detroit Red Wings were barely able to keep their impressive postseason streak alive, but they squeezed in and have now made the postseason 22 straight years.
And just because they barely qualified for the postseason it doesn't mean this has to be a one-and-done trip.
The Red Wings struggled this season as their offense would bog down for long stretches. However, this team was rattled by injuries.
With a little luck in the injury department, this offense will have a chance to find some consistency, and the Red Wings will be able to let their defense lead them in this series.
Jimmy Howard has had a nice year in goal as the Red Wings gave up just 115 goals on the season.
This sets up for a bad matchup for the Ducks. Anaheim began to wilt down the stretch, and players like Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne lost their early-season form.
Ryan Getzlaf, and his 47 points this season, has been able to keep the Ducks afloat, but he won't be enough to help them advance in this series.
No. 6 New York Rangers over No. 3 Washington Capitals
This is going to be a great series as the Rangers will not only take the Capitals to the limit, but knock them out of the playoffs.
Both of these teams roll into this series in great form. The Capitals have done so with great offense led by Alex Ovechkin, but they will be tested by the New York Rangers' surging defense.
But this goes beyond just being a talented offense against a stingy defense. Washington does much of its damage on the power play.
Washington went 44-of-164 in power-play opportunities, and both Ovechkin and Ribeiro earned 27 points on power plays to lead the NHL.
However, the Capitals will have a hard time gaining advantages through the power play in this series. With just 9.2 penalties per game, the Rangers are the league's least penalized team.
This will allow the Rangers to use their strong possession offense to mute the Capitals attack. This all leads to a Rangers victory.
No. 6 New York Rangers over No. 2 Montreal Canadiens
So, the Rangers upset train won't stop in the first round. The Rangers will ride their momentum past the resurgent Canadiens.
It's too bad too. The Canadiens have been a nice story, and I'd like to see them do well. However, they are going to run into the same problem as the Capitals, and that is their offense will be stymied by the Rangers' defense.
The Canadiens' goal scoring, in terms of goals allowed and scored, is almost identical to the Capitals this year. In fact, it is in terms of goals scored—it's identical as they both netted 149 goals.
However, just like the Capitals, with the Rangers' disciplined defense and excellent goalkeeping by Henrik Lundqvist, they will be able to slow this attack down.
And with the line of Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin playing well, New York will be able to score enough to pull out a victory.