The NHL playoffs 2010 officially begin tonight. With the NHL playoffs for 2010 opening night, four first round series will start the road to the Stanley Cup. There are two series openers each in the East and West, with the defending Stanley Cup champions opening it all up. In addition, there are two former champions starting another run, although with a top seed badly looking for redemption. Game 1’s of an opening round may not indicate how the next two months will go, but the NHL playoffs have to start somewhere.
The very first postseason game takes place where the road to the Stanley Cup 2009 ended. The Pittsburgh Penguins are starting exactly where they did last year: as the fourth seed in the East. But they won’t sneak up on anyone to win it all, as they did last season. The first shot to overthrow the Penguins comes from the Ottawa Senators, who faced Pittsburgh in two of the last three years for the first round.
The NHL playoffs 2010 could have a Washington-Pittsburgh second round, if every high seed wins in the East. The Penguins are very much favored to fulfill their end of the deal, in spite of the Senators’ return to prominence. Since their Stanley Cup finals run in 2007, Ottawa hasn’t done much in the postseason, and has a tough road ahead this time.
The other Eastern Conference opener in the NHL playoffs 2010 tonight is in New Jersey. Familiar postseason rivals New Jersey and Philadelphia meet again, although the Flyers are not on equal ground this time. After early Stanley Cup expectations, the Flyers needed a shootout over the Rangers just to make the playoffs on Sunday. Yet the Devils have gone a while since their last serious Stanley Cup run and were humiliated in the last minute of last year’s first round against Carolina.
After these two Game 1 match ups, the Western Conference takes over the NHL playoffs 2010 opening night. The team with the biggest question mark is San Jose, which won the West’s top seed for the second year in a row. But last year, they were upset by Anaheim, in their worst playoff collapse yet. Until the Sharks get to the Stanley Cup finals at last, they will always be suspect – and a bad showing against Colorado tonight won’t change that perception.
Finally, last year’s runner-up continue their late season surge. Detroit looked set to miss the postseason altogether, until they blazed through the final 20 games. Pittsburgh won the Cup with a late season hot streak, so Detroit could now do it too. First, they must go to Phoenix to face the Coyotes, who are the underdogs despite having home-ice.
The NHL playoffs 2010 may have Pittsburgh, New Jersey, San Jose and Detroit play a big part – and they could conceivably be the final four. But if they stumble tonight, it will make the road more difficult to start off.
Yahoo Canada Sports- “NHL Playoffs”