Potential NHL playoff upsets

Top teams that could fall in the first round, plus a dangerous bubble team

Updated: March 13, 2014, 2:46 PM ET
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider

Teemu Selanne Eddie Perlas/Icon SMIWhile the Ducks could win the Presidents' Trophy, their record may not be indicative of their skill.

The NHL postseason is just a few weeks away, and we are starting to get some clarity on who will be playing for Lord Stanley's Cup.

In the East, the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins are vying for the conference's top seed and all the accoutrements that come along with it. In the West, the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks, with a little bit of heat from the Chicago Blackhawks, are looking to claim the top spot.

But being the top seed means you have a bull's-eye on your back -- and are primed for a fall.

Once you get into the postseason, anything can and does happen. Montreal neutralized the Washington Capitals' high-flying attack in 2010, and the Los Angeles Kings proved in 2012 that even a lowly eighth seed can make it all the way to the top.

Metrics -- both conventional and fancy -- provide some clues that these upsets were more than just flukes, and we can use them again to find out which top teams could be sent home early and who can be the teams to do it.


Minnesota Wild over Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks have put together a stellar season in Bruce Boudreau's first full stint at the helm. They sit atop the Pacific Division and could end up with the Presidents' Trophy, awarded to the team finishing the regular season with the best overall record. But they have a potentially fatal flaw: Their record is not indicative of their skill.

The Ducks have a 21-2-7 record in one-goal games, which typically spells disaster in the playoffs. Since the 2005-06 season, excluding the 2013 shortened campaign, eight playoff teams have won more than 65 percent of the one-goal games in which they were involved. Six of those eight lost in the first round.

That's not good news for Anaheim, which is projected to meet Minnesota in the first round. Plus, the Wild boast one of the league's best defensive tandems in Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin, who have held the Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to zero points and a mere two shots on goal in over 30 minutes of even-strength play this season when matched up head-to-head. Last season, the Suter-Brodin pair yielded zero points and just one even-strength shot on goal in over 19 minutes against the Ducks' top line.

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.