Stanley Cup Playoff First Round Preview
|Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks didn't surprise|
many by raising the Stanley Cup in 2013. Only a truly
great team is capable of making the run to the Cup. (Getty)
It's like March Madness in college basketball, but so much better. Instead of one Cinderella upset game, the Stanley Cup playoffs are grueling best-of-seven battles. The playoffs themselves will last nearly two months, as the 16 contenders race to become the first (and only) to win 16 games. This format doesn't favor Cinderella. The only team that's capable of winning the Stanley Cup this season is the best team in hockey. And, this tournament will determine that.
There is no fluke Stanley Cup winner. Perhaps a hot goalie can carry a team unexpectedly through the first round of the playoffs; perhaps a defensive system slows down an offensively-gifted squad; or perhaps a sniper gets hot for a series. That only goes so far. Sooner or later, in this grueling war, a battle won't be won, and adversity will create a time of reckoning. After which, only the best team in the league will march forward and emerge victorious in this two-month war.
Here's a look at the First Round matchups: