You have to wonder if those first games in round 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals this year was really a case of beginner's luck for the underdogs. Nobody expected to see Washington beaten by Montreal, Pittsburgh beaten by Ottawa, Chicago beaten by Nashville. It stunned just about everyone, maybe even the teams themselves.
It's probably a fair bet that the top teams came in with a lot of confidence in the idea of a quick series win. Underestimating the competition was surely a factor in those victories, no matter what kind of politically-correct interviews were conducted with players talking about how much they respect their opponents. The favourites are out in full force now and there's probably going to be a big momentum swing in these series.
Some series have become easier to call and others are going to be tight races until the very end.
The Vanek injury is probably a good sign that Buffalo's days are numbered. The Bs are good at winning the one goal game and now that Buffalo's striking power has been severely reduced, there will probably be more of those.
San Jose seems to have started a meltdown and the day to day status of Dany Heatley doesn't help matters either. Unfortunately, their playoffs record over the years kind of speaks for itself.
The guessing game remains for:
Philadelphia and New Jersey- you'd think that Brodeur would have this team in his back pocket, but that doesn't seem to be the case. There has been discussion about questionable calls and non-calls, as with a lot of the series right now, but there doesn't seem to be a clear advantage for one side in this match up. This could be a coin toss.
Detroit and Phoenix- you'd think that the lock in this series would be warhouse Detroit, but Phoenix has bounced back with spectacular play from their goalie and otherwise consistent play on their offense. This could be one of the toughest fights for Detroit, but their fight may have gotten just a little bit easier with the loss of Shane Doan. To be continued.
Vancouver and LA- don't count out LA as a real potential spoiler. Vancouver's had a great season and they still look like Canada's best bet to get a team in the second round, but LA seems to like their spoiler role and is doing a good job of living up to it. If Lou and the Sedins don't shut them down, you kind of have to wonder, who can?
As for Montreal and Ottawa, both teams knew that the hardest obstacles to overcome in this round would be Ovechkin and Crosby and they have delivered. They want to win. The next few games may just be a question of sheer will for these two team captains. It's what champions are made of.
It's still early to tell, but while it may be sad for both Montreal and Ottawa to lose their chance to make it to the next round, I think most people are relishing the thought of another Sid the Kid vs. Alexander the Great showdown. That would just be another treat in a great year for hockey.