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Question of the Day: Which first-round NHL playoff series stands the best chance of being an upset? [Updated]

April 12, 2011 | 10:15 am

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Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the NHL playoffs. Check back throughout the day for more responses, vote in the poll and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times

Although there's usually one huge upset in the first round -- that would be you, top-seeded 2009 San Jose Sharks and 2010 Washington Capitals -- the parity in the NHL this season makes an upset less likely than in the past.

The teams in the series matching the fourth and fifth seeds in each conference are generally too close to call a victory by the lower-seeded team an upset -- three points separated Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay in the East, while Anaheim and Nashville each had 99 points in the West. I've seen some predictions that Nashville will beat the Ducks based on the Predators' defense and goaltending.

But I think the real upset possibility is the Detroit-Phoenix series in the West. It's tough to bet against the Red Wings but they've been hit hard by injuries, and Henrik Zetterberg won't be ready to start the series. If any upsets emerge, I'd expect it to come there.

[Updated at 1:19 p.m.:

Harvey Fialkov, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Although it would be entertaining to watch top-seeded Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau's expletive-laced news conference after another first-round ouster, the Rangers lack the firepower.

Let's go with the reigning Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks -- who sneaked through the back door late Sunday on a Wild win -- as my upset pick over the President's Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks.
Leading the league in points didn't help the Caps last year.

History favors the Hawks, who bounced the Canucks in the last two conference semifinals, outscoring  them 24-8 in third periods, while going 5-1 in Rogers Arena.

Sure, the superstar Sedin siblings pace the NHL's top offense and power play, while goalie Roberto Luongo's 2.11 GAA spearheads the stingiest defense. But the Hawks, featuring Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, scored six fewer goals and boast the fourth-ranked power play.

The teams split the season series, 2-2.

All the pressure is on the Canucks.]

RELATED:

Ducks are set, Kings need a reset heading into NHL playoffs

Kings' Justin Williams practices with team, hopes to be ready for playoff opener

Photo: Phoenix center Martin Hanzal, right, reacts after scoring against Detroit last month. Credit: Matt Kartozian / US Presswire

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