NHL Playoff Bracket 2013: Top Seeds That Will Cruise Through 1st Round Series

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIMay 1, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 27:  Brenden Morrow #10 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his third period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 27, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Penguins defeated the Hurricanes 8-3.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The race towards the 2013 Stanley Cup is underway, and if last year's triumph by the No. 8 seeded Los Angeles Kings showed us anything, it's that no team can be counted out of the title race.

Both the Eastern and Western Conferences will have their top seeds, which are expected to win through the first-round with relative ease—the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins—but as we saw last year, it's not always that simple for the top seeds.

Which big-name teams can you bank on an easy first-round series this year and which might have a tougher time on their hands? Read on and find out.


2013 NHL Playoffs: Full Bracket and First-Round Listings

The image below (via NHLPlayoffsBracket.com) shows a full bracket for the 2013 postseason. A full game breakdown of the first-round can be seen here.


Eastern Conference

[1] Pittsburgh Penguins vs. [8] New York Islanders

[2] Montreal Canadiens vs. [7] Ottawa Senators

[3] Washington Capitals vs. [6] New York Rangers

[4] Boston Bruins vs. [5] Toronto Maple Leafs


Western Conference

[1] Chicago Blackhawks vs. [8] Minnesota Wild

[2] Anaheim Ducks vs. [7] Detroit Red Wings

[3] Vancouver Canucks vs. [6] San Jose Sharks

[4] St. Louis Blues vs. [5] Los Angeles Kings


2013 NHL Playoffs: Top Teams That Will Easily Win 1st Round

Pittsburgh Penguins—No. 1 Seed, Eastern Conference

The Penguins are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now and simply won't be troubled in their first-round series against the New York Islanders.

Even without Sidney Crosby in their lineup, the Penguins have an array of talent that is more than capable of getting the puck on net a great deal throughout this series. Given the form that New York Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has shown throughout the playoffs before, that's a good thing for Pittsburgh.

The Penguins made some big moves before the trade deadline to make a run at the Stanley Cup this year, and they should, by all accounts, come pretty close.

New York is young and talented, but it just doesn't have the skill or depth required to steal a game in Pittsburgh here and stun the No. 1 seed in this series.


Anaheim Ducks—No. 2 Seed, Western Conference

The Detroit Red Wings might have won two of the three games they played against the Anaheim Ducks during the regular season, but that won't stop the No. 2 seed from progressing through to the second-round here—especially not after they took Game 1 of the series in a 3-1 victory.

Detroit is in some nice form at the moment but simply doesn't have the dominance to succeed against teams that have the ability to push them around, as its last two postseason campaigns have shown. The Ducks will know this and will look to turn this into a very physical first-round series.

They'll look to get the puck in deep as often as possible, and if they can do that, it'll be hard for Detroit's skilled players to assert too much impact here.

That will be the series for Anaheim.


Boston Bruins—No. 5 Seed, Eastern Conference

The Toronto Maple Leafs come into the playoffs this year with a great following behind them, but they didn't at all draw a nice matchup in the Boston Bruins.

Boston has been in great form this year and has the toughness here to emerge from a potentially difficult series against the Leafs, which are the first team since the 2001-02 Montreal Canadiens to "qualify for the postseason with an average shot differential worse than minus-five" (per ESPN).

The Bruins won three of their four games against the Leafs during the regular season and have shown enough consistency this year to suggest they'll cruise through here.


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