"Sometimes the first round is the hardest round," said coach John Tortorella Thursday night, after his New York Rangers, the No. 1 seed in the East, survived a Game 7 against the eighth-seeded Ottawa Senators.
This year the first round was a giant-killer.
Gone are the last four Stanley Cup winners: the Boston Bruins,Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. Gone are the Vancouver Canucks, who were Cup finalists last year and won their second straight Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top regular-season team. Gone are the San Jose Sharks, the only ones to make the conference final in each of the past two years.
Eleven seasons since the last expansion, seven years into the salary-cap era, the talent is relatively even across the league's 30 teams. But it seems especially even among the 16 playoff teams.
"When you look at the teams that have been knocked out, it's whoever's playing their best hockey at the right time, and the parity shows," said coachRead More »from Round 2 Playoff Power Rankings: Predators the team to beat