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?

Comments (11)

  1. I’m picking Philadelphia to upset NJ, I think Brodeau is past the stage in his career where he can steal games on a regular basis. NJ has relied upon him for over 15 years and this year is no different. The Flyers have a tough team that can grind it out over 7 games in a series, and they also have Pronger, who, when his game is on, can still dominate.

    I was going to pick the Senators to upset the Penguins, but after seeing Michalik go down last night and with the loss of Kovalev, that doesn’t seem as likely. Still possible though.

    I also see Colorado wining over the Sharks. From what I saw in the game last night the Avalanche are quite a bit more motivated to grind out a win. The Sharks top line didn’t seem to disinterested to create much of anything last night and knowing Thorton and Marleau’s history, I see Colorado going to the next round.

  2. The only upset I ended up taking was Philly over NJ. I took Phoenix over Detroit too, which as you point out is not really an upset according to the standings, but would be unexpected.

  3. Come on people, admit it. The most probably upset is Habs in 5 over the Caps… =P

  4. I picked no upsets, but I think those top three are all decently likely, far as such things go. I’m really pulling for the Coyotes.

  5. i thin boston beats buffalo just because of more experienced D

  6. For the Sens to upset the Pens it’s simple continue to shut down Crosby they did that in game one. Sure Malkin did some damage and both Elliot and the PK suffered but both were there when the score was 3-2 and 4-3. Both goaltenders had a poor game though I can’t blame Elliot for the goals he let in but Fleury will have to be much better or the Pens are in trouble. This is the time of year where I think they are really going to miss Scuderi and Gil.

  7. I think Boston over Buffalo is an underrated upset pick… purely based on how well Rask has played this year… kid’s the real deal.

  8. Colorado and Detroit are my bets for upsets. Detroit is an underdog by technicality, if they had been healthy this year; they would’ve finished ahead of Phoenix.

  9. noskillgill: Just to clarify, I’ve got Detroit predicted to beat Phoenix and thus in the statemnet above am describing the likelihood of a PHX victory.

  10. The Habs will win in six over The Caps…thats right, i said it. Inside source says Ovi is injured, and after not getting a single shot on net last night this is looking like the case.

    Come on people do you really think Jose Theodore…the same guy that was run out of Montreal cheating on his gf with paris Hilton and using Propeecha to grow his beautiful hair is going to lead this Caps team to the final? DREAM ON

  11. JW-I got that. We agree on something for a change.

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