There has been a fare share of upsets and surprises so far during these first exciting weeks of round one playoff hockey.
You take a look at the first round series between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings. The Sharks had a 3:0 series lead on the Sharks going into Game 4 in Los Angeles. The Sharks were looking to pull off the second sweep in the playoffs. They had beat the Kings in Los Angeles in Game 3; you would think with this newly gained motivation, the Sharks wouldn't have a problem sweeping the Kings. Unfortunately for the Sharks, the Kings had other plans. Regardless of the fact that the Sharks were able to get on the board each period, the Kings were able to top it. Scoring three times in the second and twice in the third, they Kings automatically forced a Game 5 back in San Jose; home of the Sharks. The Sharks would get shutout at home. A Game 6 in Los Angeles would have to decide the fate of these quickly slumping Sharks. Game 6, just like the previous two games proved to be detrimental to the Sharks. The Kings struck early with a Justin Williams tip in mid way through the period. Things were starting to look good for the Sharks late in the second period as James Sheppard was able to sneak one past Jonathan Quick to even up the tilt. The Kings would just answer with three goals in the third and a Game 6 win. The series is now tied at three with a Game 7 looming overhead. If the Kings want to take home the win they will have to continue to play their game. They can't worry about the Sharks or get caught up in the moment. As for the Sharks, they have to play how they did during the first three games, hard fast hockey.
Everyone has been pretty surprised by the outcome of the series between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild. The Aves have had a tremendous regular season, head coach Patrick Roy has been a God sent to this team. However, the Wild want to show that this Colorado team isn't as good as everyone has said they are. They cut the Aves hope of a sweep short during Game 3 in Minnesota as the Wild were able to shoutout the Avalanche in an overtime thriller. Since that Game 3, these two teams are back and fourth, winning one and losing one. This the final outcome of the series has to be decided via Game 7 in Colorado. If the Aves want a shot at moving onto the next round they will have to shutdown the Wild's main offensive core made up of Zach Parise and Jason Pominville. They will have to shoot the puck whenever they get the chance to; not only will they have to shoot the puck whenever they can, they will also have to make clean passes and minimize the turnovers. If they are able to utilize their skills they will be able to pull quite the upset against the Avalanche. Now, if Colorado wants a chance of seeing round two, they will have to use the energy from the Pepsi Center as well as get the fans into the game early. This can be done with either a fight, a few hard hits, or even by getting on the board early.
The series between the Flyers and the Rangers has been nothing but exciting. Both teams have been trading off the wins and loses. They win at home and lose on the road. This only goes to show that either team utilizes the energy from their home fans to pull out the win. There is no question that the Flyers aren't on their game when they play at Madison Square Garden and the Rangers aren't on their game when they visit the Wells Fargo Center. Last night's Game 6 showed just that. Henrik Lundqvist allowed a total of four goals, three of which came from Flyers forward, Wayne Simmonds. Hank would only play a total of two periods until he was replaced by backup goaltender, Cam Talbot. Talbot proved he was ready to play, coming up with some huge saves. The only goal scored by the Flyers in the third was an empty-netter scored by Claude Giroux. Fortunately for the Rangers, they will host Game 7. They will have the home fans on their side this time. If they want to move onto round two, they will have to maximize the full potential of the fans as well as convert on the man advantage. If the Flyers want to move on and face off against their cross state rivals in round two, they have to minimize their penalties, play their style of hockey, and not let the Rangers and the fans get into their heads because once this happens, the Flyers are sitting ducks and the Rangers will take advantage of the opportunity.