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Ranking the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoff 1st-round series

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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The 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs are set, the schedule is out, and we're all making time to make sure we don't miss a single moment of the NHL fixing it for the non-Canadian teams action.

But which series are worthy of your attention, and which ones might end up as duds?

Your friends at Puck Daddy provide you with a handy ranking of the eight first-round series based on the following factors: Star Power, Secondary Plotlines, Hate, Controversy, Arena Atmosphere, Game 7 Probability and the potential for awesome playoff facial masterpieces, aka Beard-o-sity.

Which series is the most compelling in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Each category gets a number grade from 1-to-10, with 10 being the highest grade.

From least compelling to most compelling, based on our system, here … we … go:

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NASH


Star Power - 5
Secondary Plotlines - 4
Hate Factor - 2
Controversy Quotient - 4
Arena Atmosphere - 8
Game 7 Probability - 8
Beard-o-sity - 4

FINAL SCORE: 35

 

A series in which the star power is lopsided, as the Ducks enter with the NHL's top goal-scorer in Corey Perry and big-name teammates like Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne, while the Predators enter with … er … the one guy's brother … and … that defenseman who shoots the puck, like, really hard … and … the goalie that sounds like a dish from the Olive Garden.

Kidding, of course. This Predators team seems like one that could finally, finally, finally break through and win a round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which may be the most interesting plotline here.

There's been one fight in four games between the two, so the hate isn't there, yet. The beard factor takes a tumble with the loss of Scott Niedermayer's salt-and-pepper masterpiece and because Barry Trotz refuses to grow one, which we'd obviously all like to see.

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PENS


Star Power - 6
Secondary Plotlines - 5
Hate Factor - 4
Controversy Quotient - 3
Arena Atmosphere - 8
Game 7 Probability - 8
Beard-o-sity - 5

FINAL SCORE: 39

Who would have guessed at the start of the season that the Tampa Bay Lightning would carry the star power in a series against the Pittsburgh Penguins? Without Sidney Crosby, at least at the start, this is the Vinny/Marty/Stamkos show vs. Marc-Andre Fleury and the cast of players that have maintained an incredible level of success minus Sid and Evgeni Malkin.

The hate factor gets an uptick for Victor Hedman's role in Crosby's concussion. Without Matt Cooke and with Steve Downie having been reformed, the chances for malarkey are slim. The major storyline is whether the Penguins can advance without Sid and Geno, which just serves to depress fans that Sid and Geno aren't in the playoffs at this point.

Max Talbot and Pascal Dupuis give us hope for the playoff beards. But our real question is if we can "See Stamkos" on that front.

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FLY

Star Power - 6
Secondary Plotlines - 4
Hate Factor - 3
Controversy Quotient - 6
Arena Atmosphere - 8
Game 7 Probability - 6
Beard-o-sity - 7

FINAL SCORE: 40.

Chris Pronger's presence in the series ensures some star power and the potential for controversy, what with his puck larceny and occasional liberties taken with other players. On the other side, American Hero Ryan Miller will try and win his first playoff series since 2007. But if you ask Pierre McGuire, the biggest star in this series is Mike Richards. And by "this series" we mean "the playoffs."

Problem here is that there's no hate yet. There have been more puck-over-the-glass penalties (three) than fights (two) in their season series. We expect this to change in a hurry in the playoffs, but it's not there yet. Even with Danny Briere in a series against the Sabres.

As far as beards go, Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino cannot be denied. Ville's beard inspired a religion, for goodness sake.

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DET

Star Power - 5
Secondary Plotlines - 7
Hate Factor - 4
Controversy Quotient - 5
Arena Atmosphere - 8
Game 7 Probability - 8
Beard-o-sity - 5

FINAL SCORE: 42

 

Outside of Shane Doan and Ilya Bryzgalov, the Phoenix Coyotes are an interchangeable lot to most observers, playing coach Dave Tippett's system to perfection with stunning results. The Red Wings, meanwhile, have the star wattage in this series, from Datsyuk to Zetterberg (should he play) to Lidstrom. Plus they're, you know, the Red Wings.

These teams met in a fascinating seven-game series last year that saw the Wings play inconsistently and the Coyotes play well through six games before getting hammered at home in Game 7. The Wings now have home ice this go-'round; but if Coyotes fans were throwing snakes last season, what will they do for an encore?

The biggest subplot is, well, where the Coyotes are headed, both in the postseason and for their franchise. The notion that this team's sale still isn't completed and the Coyotes are asking local fans to buy into another postseason with the team's future unstable is an embarrassment to the NHL. That said, we'd love to know who Winnipeg's pulling for in this one.

As far as on-ice controversies go … well, we know there are going to be a few goalie interference penalties that won't sit well, right?

The beard factor is powered by Todd Bertuzzi's playoff face, which could take over an entire arena like a fungus if the playoffs continued through August.

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CAPS

Star Power - 8
Secondary Plotlines - 5
Hate Factor - 6
Controversy Quotient - 5
Arena Atmosphere - 9
Game 7 Probability - 9
Beard-o-sity - 3

FINAL SCORE: 45

The star power is juiced by Alex Ovechkin, whose quest for respect in the postseason is also one of the series' top secondary plotlines, which mostly revolve around whether the Capitals can make Bruce Boudreau's new system work or if he'll be discarded after the season like an empty carton of Haagen-Dazs.

The Hate Factor and Controversy Quotients would be much higher if fashion icon Sean Avery were an active participant in the series. As it stands, the best opportunity for controversy will be if anyone lets John Tortorella near an open mic or a water bottle.

Two great atmospheres inside the arena for what could be a marathon series. But with Ovechkin denying his caveman roots by shaving for a razor endorsement, this series will lack in the foliage.

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SHAKR

Star Power - 6
Secondary Plotlines - 6
Hate Factor - 7
Controversy Quotient - 6
Arena Atmosphere - 9
Game 7 Probability - 8
Beard-o-sity - 5

FINAL SCORE: 47

Do they both hate the Anaheim Ducks more than they hate each other? Probably.

But this series isn't going to lack for animosity, as the state rivals meet for the first time ever in the postseason. And there are some quirky connections between the teams, such as the fact that Kings GM Dean Lombardi was a member of the first Sharks front office.

The biggest on-ice plotline here is whether the Los Angeles Kings can still win a playoff series minus Anze Kopitar, although they could get Justin Williams back soon. That ups the drama but decreases the star power.

On the beard front, the efforts by players like Scott Nichol are counterbalanced by the terrible foliage of guys like Logan Couture. The Sharks gain points for Joe Pavelski's beard, which looks like lemon sherbet. The Kings have a few beardsmen like Rob Scuderi, and we always appreciate The Evil Drew Doughty look come playoff time.

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CNAUCK

Star Power - 9
Secondary Plotlines - 10
Hate Factor - 10
Controversy Quotient - 6
Arena Atmosphere - 10
Game 7 Probability - 7
Beard-o-sity - 5

FINAL SCORE: 57

When you have the last two Art Ross winners, a burgeoning star that's likely to win the Selke and a goalie that captured Olympic gold last season vs. last year's Stanley Cup champs, star power is not an issue.

When you have one team in the Chicago Blackhawks that's knocked another team in the Vancouver Canucks out of the playoffs in consecutive seasons, drama isn't an issue.

And, come to think of it, neither is hate, because of situations like this.

Beard grade is contingent on what Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane give the world this spring … because muttonchops and mullets could bring this grade to an 11.

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BOS

Star Power - 6
Secondary Plotlines - 10
Hate Factor - 10
Controversy Quotient - 10
Arena Atmosphere - 10
Game 7 Probability - 7
Beard-o-sity - 7

FINAL SCORE: 60

Oh, if only there had been some sort of a catastrophic incident between these two teams that had sponsors threatening the NHL and accusations of concussion embellishment flying through the air …

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens hate each other slightly less than their fans do. There are more plotlines entering this series than there will be goals scored, from the Original Six rivalry to the Pacioretty hit to how Zdeno Chara's return to Bell Centre shall be treated to stuff that actually has to do with hockey, like Tim Thomas and Carey Price trying to reverse some playoff fortunes. (Especially in the case of Price.)

From an emotional intensity standpoint, there's no series that touches this one. Will it translate into a classic series or a chaotic trouncing by one team over the other?

The presence of Paul Mara increases the Beard-o-sity in what may otherwise be a rather well-shorn group of Habs. (Will Carey Price bring back the dirty 'stache?) As for the Bruins, we want Tim Thomas biker-'stache and more Patrice Bergeron facial scruff, pronto.

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