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Interesting Brackets In Round 1 (Are Playoff Matchups Becoming More Significant?)


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Just want to start off saying... In no way do I think that a playoff matchup, that may be considered unfortunate (ex. DET/NSH and PIT/PHI, both due to division leader rule) is any excuse for the higher seeded team. I do however think there are some emerging aspects of the NHL that are putting more weight on playoff matchups.

1. Teams in today's NHL are differentiating their play styles and focusing more on simple aspects of their game (standing up at the blue-line, special teams focus, strong forecheck, etc, etc). Certain matchups may force a team to alter their play, and put more pressure on the coach to make adjustments.

Ex. LA beats SJ in G82: STL vs LA becomes a toss up (Instead of STL being a heavy favourite vs. SJ), and VAN faces a SJ team, similarly struggling due to lack of scoring.

2. Rivalries can often bring out the best in teams. Emotions were running high in every R1 series - surely forming many potential rivalries. Analysts often talk about sparks/momentum shifts, and it is often a rival that gets a team playing to their full potential. (Again, its no excuse - getting teams playing their best is only a good thing for the NHL - just something to think about.)

Ex. Unfortunately for them, the Penguins definitely got the best out of the Flyers. Pens with 1 more regular season win, and you have PIT facing Ottawa, Flyers vs. NY.

Instead of Philly scoring 30 goals and the Sens surprising NY, the Pens don't allow Ottawa to get their team rolling and Giroux doesn't find the same stride against Lundquist and the Rangers.

3. Goaltenders with .950 save percentages (which I believe is largely due to stingy defence keeping shooters to the outside). Many goalies these days are so sound technically that it takes a lucky bounce to beat them.

Ex. Smith being the obvious example. Stole game 6 from CHI, and, as stated by a teammate,"is by far the most valuable player to his team." Rinne and Elliot not far behind. Quick and Schneider also both with potential to steal a series.

Please feel free to be critical, I would just like to have a discussion on the topic. :)

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OP is right...I can imagine a very different outcome in the first round of these playoffs if there were only a few points different between teams...unfortunately, you have to beat the best to be the best and win it all so really, it doesn't matter who you play and when. You just have to beat whoever stands in your way.

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