x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Count on one longshot to oust an NHL play-off favourite

There will be upsets in the first round of the NHL play-offs, you can count on that. Accurately picking the long shot that will rise up and knock off a top-seeded team is another proposition

There will be upsets in the first round of the NHL play-offs, you can count on that. Accurately picking the long shot that will rise up and knock off a top-seeded team is another proposition, but there are a few clubs that come to mind.

In the East, the bottom three seeds all boast great goaltending. Montreal, seeded sixth, go up against Boston hoping that Carey Price can continue to build on his breakout campaign. Despite a shredded defence in front of him, Price kept the Habs in the running for the division title until the final couple weeks.

In seventh place, the Buffalo Sabres rely on Ryan Miller, the pole-thin goalie who somehow manages to cover the entire net. And the New York Rangers, in the final position, look to perpetual Vezina nominee Henrik Lundqvist. Any one of them are capable of stealing a series, and you can bank on seeing at least one of these clubs in the second round.

In the West anyone can beat anyone and it would not be an upset.

The Vancouver Canucks, the regular-season champions, are forced to face the team that has eliminated them in each of the last two play-offs, the Chicago Blackhawks, who are also the defending Stanley Cup champions.

San Jose should be able to handle the injury-depleted Los Angeles Kings, but divisional showdowns are never a sure thing.

Detroit and Phoenix went seven games in the first round last year; now they meet again. The Coyotes will be motivated to oust a Wings team making their 20th straight play-off appearance.