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Round 2 shaping up to be a weird one for the NHL

Florida Panthers' Tomas Kopecky (L) congratulates goalie Jose Theodore (R) on his shutout against the New Jersey Devils following their NHL Eastern conference quarterfinal playoff hockey Game 5 in Sunrise, Florida April 21, 2012. REUTERS/Rhona Wise


Another few days and these could potentially be your Round 2 matchups.

In the Eastern Conference, as the top remaining seed, the Florida Panthers would get the eighth seeded Ottawa Senators.

The other series would feature the fifth and seventh seeded Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals, neither of whom had home ice advantage in Round 1.

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In the West, things are even odder, with the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings already guaranteed to meet despite neither team having made it out of Round 1 in a decade.

The other series could be a battle of the sunbelt between the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators.

If that's how it ends up, that's about as weird as it gets, to the point hockey fans are now debating when the last postseason with this many odd results was. (That Anaheim Mighty Ducks v. Minnesota Wild Western final in 2003 comes to mind.)

Many believe this could lead to having the strangest set of teams in Round 3 since 1993, when all three finalists were ranked third in their divisions coming in (this is prior to the current conference seedings format).

That group of teams (Montreal, NY Islanders, Los Angeles and Toronto) had an average of only 94 points.

This season, it's quite possible that seven of the NHL's top 10 teams will be eliminated by Thursday – Vancouver, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh, Boston, Detroit, New Jersey and Chicago – leaving only St. Louis, Nashville and Philadelphia with more than 42 wins during the 82-game season.

<h5 style='border-top: #000 1px solid; border-bottom: #000 1px dotted; font:14px Georgia,serif; font-weight: normal; width: 460px; padding: 5px 0; margin: 20px 0 0'>Underdogs on the rise</h5><p style='font:12px Verdana,sans-serif; width: 460px; margin: 5px 0 0 0; line-height: 1.4em;'>Five of the seven teams that have advanced or are ahead in their series had fewer points during the regular season. </p><iframe src="" scrolling='no' frameborder='no' width='460' height='300' style='border-bottom: 1px dotted #000; margin: 20px 0 0' ></iframe>

That leaves things fairly wide open for a team that has never won the Stanley Cup to finally do so, especially considering that in the scenario laid out at the top, seven of the eight Round 2 teams don't have their names on the trophy.

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There are still four of those first round series ongoing, so any of the Rangers, Bruins, Devils or Blackhawks can still advance and give us a couple more of the so-called marquee teams in the Final Eight.

But it's not looking good for most of them.

Here's a closer look as to what we may be in store for in the next round:

Possible Round 2 combinations:

Western Conference

(2) St. Louis v. (8) Los Angeles (4) Nashville v. (3) Phoenix / (6) Chicago

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Eastern Conference

If high seeds win (9% chance): (1) NY Rangers v. (5) Philadelphia (2) Boston v. (3) Florida

If lowest seeds win (9% chance): (5) Philadelphia v. (8) Ottawa (6) New Jersey v. (7) Washington

If teams currently leading (and Boston) win (28% chance):

(2) Boston v. (8) Ottawa (3) Florida v. (5) Philadelphia

If teams currently leading (and Washington) win (28% chance):

(3) Florida v. (8) Ottawa (5) Philadephia v. (7) Washington

All other combinations are roughly a 25% chance

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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