Playoff Preview: Upsets


Over the last couple of days, I’ve been making predictions as to who I think will win each playoff series.  Naturally, I have a different amount of confidence in each of those predictions.  Every year, teams get upset in the playoffs by other teams below them in the standings, teams who for whatever reason put it all together when the postseason hit.


If the NHL weren’t like that, we could just hand the Stanley Cup to the San Jose Sharks at the end of every 82-game season and call it a year.


With that in mind, I thought I would add this article as a trailer to my other preview articles, to indicate which series I think have the greatest chances of an upset.  When I use the word upset, I’m using my rankings as context, since they certainly seem to be the consensus (i.e. most expect Detroit to beat Phoenix despite the fact that Phoenix is the higher seeded team).  Here’s a look at each series and the odds I’d give of an upset.


  • Phoenix vs. Detroit = Medium/High.  The Coyotes have a very strong team, one of the best goaltenders in the league, and home ice advantage.
  • New Jersey vs. Philadelphia = Medium/High.  Philadelphia matched up very well with New Jersey in the regular season.
  • Canucks vs. Kings = Medium/Low.  I really like the Kings forward corps, their young players have improved as the season has gone on, and Roberto Luongo isn’t really having a great year.
  • Penguins vs. Senators = Medium/Low.  There’s a lot I don’t like about the Penguins this year, and Marc-Andre Fleury has had a poor season.
  • Buffalo vs. Boston = Low.  The Bruins sans Savard just don’t have the offensive punch to win this series.  If Savard were healthy, this would be a different series.
  • Chicago vs. Nashville = Low.  Despite the recent performance of Pekka Rinne, the Blackhawks are just too good not to have confidence in.
  • San Jose vs. Colorado = Low.  I know San Jose has an ugly playoff reputation.  I also know Colorado beat them in Game 1.  It’s no secret around here I don’t really rate the Avalanche, who all season long have been dominated territorially, and I don’t expect them to make much noise in this series.  
  • Washington vs. Montreal = Very Low.  This projects to be the biggest mismatch of the playoffs.


As with all acts of prognostication, these are just informed guesses.  Had someone told me at the dawn of last year’s playoffs that Chris Osgood was going to be the best playoff goalie in those playoffs, I would have smiled politely and changed the subject – but he was.  There’s a reason goalies get highlighted in this, too; with rare exceptions, upsets are pulled off because of miraculous goaltending performances.  More than any other player, a goaltender’s performance can change how a series ends.


Who is everyone else picking for upsets?