By Adam Williams in Sports
May 3, 2012
The second round of the NHL Playoffs are picking up right where the first ended, with surprising starts.
The eighth seeded Los Angeles Kings have a two games to none lead over the No. 2 seeded St. Louis Blues with strong, balanced offense headlined by Anze Kopitar.
The Washington Capitals are giving King Henrik and the New York Rangers all they can handle in this No. 1 vs. No. 7 seeded match-up in the East and the heavily favorited Nashville Predators, though in the No. 5 seed are trailing the NHL owned Phoenix Coyotes two games to none in large part due to the unbelievably strong play by goaltender Mike Smith.
With a host of top seeded teams eliminated in the first round of these crazy, and that is putting it lightly, 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the race for Lord Stanley is in anyone’s grasp.
Philadelphia continue to be an offensive powerhouse led by Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere. They are looking for their first title in nearly 40 years, but getting through the legendary Martin Brodeur and defensive minded New Jersey Devils will be no easy task. That series is knotted up at 1-1.
The uprise of these lower rated playoff seeds should be no surprise. Over the last few years, teams not in the top four have been successful in the playoffs and have won Stanley Cups, like the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins and 2010 Chicago Blackhawks.
The other concept that a lot of fans may underestimate is the fact that these lower seeded teams have been playing for their playoff lives for much longer than the top seeded teams, therefore giving them the advantage to the aggressive, physical style played throughout the Spring months.
Even more surprising is the lack of strong play from true superstars. Sure, Giroux is stepping up and Ovechkin is starting to heat up, but where is Mike Richards or Jeff Carter for Los Angeles? Where is David Perron and T.J. Oshie for St. Louis? Alexander Radulov for Nashville, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards for the Rangers, where are you guys?
The superstars making the money are not showing up on the score sheet as regularly as their coaches would like them to. The playoffs are known for the gritty, underrated players to step up and contribute to make a name for themselves, but they alone cannot carry a team to the raising the Stanley Cup in June.
Only about a round and half into the postseason, there are so many storylines being discussed and evaluated from all perspectives. The underdog teams keep playing like the big dogs on the block and it’s only a matter of time before one barks back and puts them in their place, but from a fan’s eyes, let the underdog win. It’s great for the sport, showing that the big market teams don’t always dominate and that is what is needed for this league’s fanbase to expand.