The Stanley Cup Playoffs have provided plenty of intriguing storylines and big surprises partway through the opening round of action. While some of those surprises include teams poised to make an early exit from cup contention, there are a few matchups destined to go down to the wire.
But let’s start with the blowouts.
In what turned out to be an incredibly lopsided series, the San Jose Sharks took a 3-0 lead over the Vancouver Canucks and went on to knock the No. 3 seed out of the playoffs in short order. With a combination of clutch scoring and stifling defense, San Jose advance to the conference semifinals and will now wait to discover their opponent.
The Sharks may have to wait awhile, though.
The Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings are providing an exciting series of their own, but for much different reasons. With the series deadlocked at 2-2 and a lot of hockey yet to be played, we may see a long series from the Western Conference foes.
Can it go seven games? We’ll examine that series as well as another intriguing matchup, breaking down which will go down to the wire before deciding second-round pairings.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Detroit Red Wings
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Red Wings, it’s that two periods won’t decide their fate.
Detroit was held scoreless through two periods on Monday night, but came roaring back with two goals in the third and a deciding score less than five minutes into the overtime period to take a much-needed Game 4 win away from the Ducks.
Anaheim played like the better team in the regular season, but Detroit isn’t a team to slink away without putting up a heavyweight fight. The Wings have the right mix of youth and veteran leadership to do a lot of damage should they advance past the No. 2 seed, and it’s looking more and more likely it will take seven games to decide that.
If Anaheim continues to allow late-game outpourings from the Red Wings’ offense, things could get ugly in a hurry.
Los Angeles Kings vs. St. Louis Blues
Like Anaheim, the St. Louis Blues allowed their opponent to hang around in the third period of Game 4, and the result was two goals in less than a minute-and-a-half that allowed the Kings to tie the series at two games apiece.
Things are a lot different for the Kings this year. They were up 3-0 in every series in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the 2-2 series tie this year against the Blues can’t be a comfortable situation for the defending champs.
With the contest returning to St. Louis Wednesday night, the Blues are in prime position to take a chokehold on the series and set up a surprising finish. Los Angeles will get one more shot on home ice, but it may not be enough to avoid a first-round exit.
Still, the Kings have proved they can’t be overlooked—even if they fall behind in the series. Expect this one to find its way to seven games and provide some fireworks in the rubber match.