The NHL playoff standings 2011 have just started to form. After five games, the standings show how much home-ice matters, as the opening games made almost every hometown fan happy. In Washington, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver, the road team couldn’t steal the game away, although Nashville finally came through for visitors. Some of the winning hosts had an easier time than others, while one was taken to the first overtime game of the postseason.
In Washington, the Capitals had to be on edge after falling down 1-0 to the Rangers in the third period. With Henrik Lundqvist shutting the Capitals down, it inspired flashback to the Caps’ first round defeat as a top seed last season. Yet Alex Ovechkin finally got one past Lundqvist, and Alexander Semin finished the job late in overtime as Washington took a huge 2-1 win.
The Vancouver Canucks also have a rough playoff history to overcome, as the schedule did them no favors by pairing them with Chicago again. But after losing to the Blackhawks in the last two postseasons, the Canucks took the first step toward beating those demons in a 2-0 opening victory.
Beforehand, the Red Wings and Penguins started their latest Stanley Cup runs perfectly, as Detroit took a 4-2 win over Phoenix, and Pittsburgh shut out Steven Stamkos and Tampa Bay by 3-0. While the two former champions aren’t the favorites this year, they seek to sneak up on everyone this time around.
Right now, the standings have only one road playoff team up by 1-0, as the Predators finally came through for the underdogs by handling the Ducks 4-1. Despite having the league’s top goal-scorer in Corey Perry, the Ducks were blown out in giving up two goals to end the second period and one more to start the third.
While Anaheim couldn’t protect its home advantage, the other potential Stanley Cup contenders got off on the right foot. But considering the demons for Washington and Vancouver, and the short-handed status of Detroit and Pittsburgh, they still have a ways to go to get three more opening wins.
Yet this offers an encouraging sign for the Sharks, Flyers and Bruins, who seek to keep their opening advantage as well tonight. The last three Game 1s of round one will have the Kings, Sabres and Canadians trying to match what the Predators did.
On Friday night, the playoff standings are sure to have a combination of 1-1 and 2-0 series, with the NHL’s first four Game 2s on tap. But who among the Rangers, Blackhawks, Lightning and Ducks will even things up, and which teams will be halfway toward early elimination?
FOX Sports- “2011 NHL Playoff Central Round 1”
ESPN- “Semin, Caps take important first step”
Yahoo Sports- “Rinne, Predators shut down Ducks in playoff opener”