NHL Playoffs 2013: Analyzing Potential 2nd-Round Matchups

Isaac SmithAnalyst IMay 11, 2013

NHL Playoffs 2013: Analyzing Potential 2nd-Round Matchups

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    The first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs is almost at an end. Four teams have been eliminated, with four teams already in the second round.

    But there are still eight teams remaining in the original field of 16, meaning there is still a lot to be decided among these remaining eight teams.

    With virtually no second-round playoff matchups set, the possibilities for the second round of the playoffs remain open for discussion.

    Here are the possible second-round opponents for each of the 12 teams still in the playoffs.

Anaheim Ducks

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    The Anaheim Ducks have a Game 7 to play at home on Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET against the Detroit Red Wings. They currently possess one of the least complicated scenarios of any team remaining in the first round of the playoffs.

    If the Ducks win that game, as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, they would play the No. 5 seed Los Angeles Kings, who clinched a trip to the second round with a win Friday night over the St. Louis Blues.

    There are four teams that move on to the second round of the playoffs but only one spot left to claim in the Western Conference with the Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Kings already having clinched.

    If the Ducks win Game 7, they will start the second round of the playoffs at home against the Kings sometime next week. The No. 1 seed Blackhawks would then face the No. 6 seed San Jose Sharks in the other conference semifinal series.

    If the Ducks lose Game 7, needless to say, their season is over.

Boston Bruins

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    Cheer up, Boston fans, the Bruins still have two more chances to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs and clinch a trip to the conference semifinals. The Bruins had a chance to move on Friday night but fell, 2-1, to the Leafs in what was a must-win Game 5 for Toronto.

    With the No. 7 seed Ottawa Senators as the only team out of the East who has made it to the second round of the playoffs thus far, defeating the No. 2 seed Montreal Canadiens in five games, the picture remains wide open. If the Bruins win one of their next two games, their opponent for the next round of the playoffs (prior to Game 6 of the Islanders-Penguins series) is about as clear as mud.

    If the Penguins win, the Bruins would play the winner of the Rangers-Capitals series. If the Capitals lose, the Bruins would start at home against the Rangers in the second round. If the Rangers lose, the Bruins would start on the road against the Capitals in the second round.

    If the Penguins lose, though, the situation becomes even more crazy.

    If the Penguins and Capitals lose, the Bruins would have home-ice advantage for the rest of the playoffs and play the Islanders in the second round. If the Penguins and Rangers lose, the Bruins would start at home, playing the Senators in the second round.

    If the Bruins lose their remaining two games against Toronto, their season will be done, obviously.

Chicago Blackhawks

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    The Chicago Blackhawks advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 5-1, series-clinching win over the No. 8 seed Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of their first-round series.

    The Blackhawks now have two remaining options for teams they can play in the first round: the San Jose Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings will decide which team the Blackhawks play.

    The No. 7 seed Red Wings have a Game 7 on Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET on the road against the Anaheim Ducks.

    A Red Wings win means the Blackhawks will host the Red Wings to start the second round next week. If Anaheim wins, however, the Blackhawks would play the next lowest seed in the Western Conference in the No. 5 seed San Jose Sharks.

    So essentially, if Detroit wins, Chicago plays Detroit. If the Red Wings lose, the Blackhawks play the Sharks.

Detroit Red Wings

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    The Detroit Red Wings protected home ice Friday night in Game 6 of their quarterfinal series against the Anaheim Ducks, forcing a Game 7 in Anaheim by winning in overtime, 4-3, after blowing a 3-1 lead late in the third period.

    The Red Wings have two very clear-cut options available to them:

    1) Win Game 7 and move on to face the No. 1 seed Chicago Blackhawks, or 2) lose Game 7 and their season is over.

    Simple as that.

    The Red Wings do not have a regulation win against the Ducks in this series, winning three out of the four overtime games in this series.

Los Angeles Kings

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    The Los Angeles Kings know only one thing about the second round: they will be facing a divisional opponent.

    The Kings will wait on Game 7 of the Red Wings-Ducks series to decide who they play in the second round.

    A win by the Ducks means that the No. 5 seed Kings will play the No. 2 seed Ducks on the road next round.

    A win by the Red Wings means that the Kings will open up their second round series at home against the No. 6 seed San Jose Sharks, while the Red Wings would play the Blackhawks in the other series.

    Pretty clear-cut and dry, but the Kings will have to wait until at least tomorrow night (if not Monday morning the way the Ducks-Red Wings series has been going) to find out who their opponent will be.

New York Islanders

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    The New York Islanders face a deep hole against the Pittsburgh Penguins, trailing their best-of-seven series, 3-2.

    If the Islanders can somehow do the unthinkable (and indeed it is unthinkable, as all nine NHL analysts interviewed on NHL.com picked the Penguins to win this series), the Islanders would have a couple teams they could play in the second round.

    If the Washington Capitals win their series against the Rangers, the Islanders would open up the second round of the playoffs on the road against the Capitals.

    If the Capitals lost and the Bruins win, the Islanders would open the second round of the playoffs on the road in Boston.

    Finally, if the Capitals and Bruins lose and the Islanders somehow find a way to win their series against Pittsburgh, the Islanders would open up the second round of the playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto next weekend.

    The Islanders still need to win the next two games, but that isn't beyond their power, as they've shown the compete level to win games in this series, winning two of the five games so far.

    If the Islanders lose either of the next two games, their season is over.

New York Rangers

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    The New York Rangers are also up against the elimination wall after falling 2-1 in overtime in Game 5 in Washington.

    The Rangers now need to win their next two games to move on to the second round, but even if they are able to do this, their playoff opponent would still be far from decided.

    If the Pittsburgh Penguins win their series against the New York Islanders, the Rangers would face the winner of the Boston Bruins-Toronto Maple Leafs series.

    If the Penguins lose, the Rangers would open up the second round of the playoffs at home (as a No. 6 seed this would be incredible) against the Ottawa Senators in the second round of the playoffs.

    So the Rangers' possibilities are home-ice advantage against Ottawa (with an Islanders series win) or opening up on the road against Toronto or Boston in the second round.

    Either way, the Rangers still need to win games in order to have a chance at moving on. If the Rangers lose either of the next two games against the Capitals, they would be eliminated.

Ottawa Senators

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    The No. 7 Ottawa Senators were the first (and as of now the only) team to book their ticket to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    However, the Senators' playoff run might be short-lived if they have to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, as the Senators didn't win any of the three regular-season meetings with the Pens.

    The Senators outscored the Montreal Canadiens by a 20-9 score over their five-game series.

    Their potential second-round matchups are as follows:

    If the Penguins win either Game 6 or Game 7 with the Islanders, the Senators would open up on the road in Pittsburgh next round.

    If the Penguins lose that series, the Senators would open up in Washington if the Capitals can win either Game 6 or Game 7 of their series.

    If the Penguins and Capitals lose their respective series, the Senators would end up playing the No. 6 seed New York Rangers in the second round, as the No. 8 seed Islanders would be the lowest remaining seed in the playoffs and they would take on either the Bruins or Maple Leafs.

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Despite all the possible scenarios that have been discussed in the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins have a very uncomplicated scenario.

    Win Game 6 or Game 7 against the Islanders, and the Penguins will host the Ottawa Senators in the second round next week.

    That's it.

    Well, there's the other option, too.

    Lose both Game 6 and Game 7, and it will be another long offseason of questions for the Penguins' players, coaching and management.

San Jose Sharks

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    The San Jose Sharks were the first team to punch their ticket to the second round, sweeping the Vancouver Canucks in four games.

    The Sharks used their power play (7-for-24 in the series) to help dismantle the Canucks, winning a pair of overtime games in the series.

    The Sharks are the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference and only have two options remaining for possible second-round opponents.

    If the Ducks beat the Red Wings in Game 7 of that series, the Sharks will open up the second round against the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago next week.

    If the Red Wings beat the Ducks in Game 7, the Sharks will open up on the road against the Los Angeles Kings next week.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs forced Game 6 in their series with the Boston Bruins, as the Leafs took it to the Bruins in Game 5 in Boston, winning 2-1.

    The Leafs didn't make anything easy on themselves in that one, being outshot horribly in the third period, 19-4.

    Toronto now returns home for Game 6, hoping to win its first home playoff game since 2004. The Leafs need wins in Game 6 and Game 7 to move on to the second round of the playoffs, but if they are able to do that, they have quite the plethora of potential matchups available to them.

    If the Penguins win their series with the Islanders, the Leafs would play the winner of the Rangers-Capitals series. If the Rangers won that series, the Leafs would have home-ice advantage in the second round. If the Capitals won that series, the Leafs would open up on the road in Washington.

    If the Penguins lose, however, it changes the landscape of the playoff picture drastically. The Leafs would open up at home against the Senators in Round 2 if the Capitals won against the Rangers in the first round.

    If the Penguins and Caps lose, the Maple Leafs would have home-ice advantage for the next two rounds (assuming they make it that far) and would play the New York Islanders in the second round.

    If the Leafs lose either Game 6 or Game 7, all of this is purely hypothetical, as their season will be over.

Washington Capitals

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    The Washington Capitals won Game 5 against the New York Rangers in dramatic overtime fashion on Saturday night by a 2-1 score.

    The Capitals need a victory in Game 6 or Game 7 to advance to the second round.

    If the Capitals advance and the Penguins win their series with the Islanders, the Capitals would play the winner of the Boston-Toronto series, starting at home next week.

    If the Penguins lose their series, the Capitals would take on the No. 8 seed New York Islanders in the second round at home next week.

    If the Capitals lose both of their remaining two games with the Rangers, their season is over.

Conclusion

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    With four of eight second-round teams determined already, it is nothing short of amazing that no second-round matchups are confirmed yet.

    The landscape of the second round clears up remarkably with a Penguins win tonight against the Islanders in Game 6 of that series, but if Pittsburgh loses, then one has to wait until tomorrow for any real news on that front.

    The storyline out of the Western Conference that is most interesting is that the Kings will end up facing a divisional opponent in the second round, making those old divisional rivalry games mean even more than they did in the regular season.

    Stay tuned to Bleacher Report for continuing NHL coverage this weekend as more of these playoff matchups are determined.

     

    All statistics courtesy of NHL.com.

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