The 2013 NHL playoffs are underway, as six out of the eight first-round series have completed Game 1. During the opening bout, five of the six home teams emerged victorious and two games were decided in overtime.
The question is, which teams will bounce back from their Game 1 losses and even their respective series at 1-1?
Although two separate games went to overtime, four have been decided by at least two goals. During the opening bout of a series, however, we've come to expect there to be more of a feeling-out process than an evenly matched clash.
When it comes to Game 2, however, all eyes will be on the teams ready to prove their worth as favorites.
Opponent: San Jose Sharks
Game 1: 3-1, Sharks
Game 2: San Jose Sharks at Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks didn't have the dominant regular season that we've grown accustomed to seeing, but the same can be said about the San Jose Sharks. While San Jose has grabbed hold of momentum with a 3-1 Game 1 victory, Vancouver has reason to be confident.
The Sharks haven't won back-to-back road games since Jan. 22.
With this in mind, it's fair to assume that Vancouver will own the edge as its looks to hold down its home ice. Not only were the Canucks 15-6-3 at home during the regular season, but they haven't suffered first-round exits in consecutive seasons since 2002.
If that's not enough, San Jose has defeated Vancouver in four consecutive games—do we really expect a team as skilled as the Canucks to make it five in a row?
Chances are that isn't going to happen. Not only were two of San Jose's goals in the third period, but goaltender Roberto Luongo gave his team more than enough opportunities to blow the game wide open during the first two periods.
Expect Vancouver to capitalize on those opportunities as it protects its home ice.
Los Angeles Kings
Opponent: St. Louis Blues
Game 1: 2-1 OT, Blues
Game 2: Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues
The defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings lost Game 1 by way of one of the worst blunders in NHL playoffs history. Jonathan Quick, the 2012 Stanley Cup MVP, closed out a masterful performance by losing the puck behind the net and allowing Alexander Steen score uncontested.
That was the game-winner in overtime.
Prior to that goal, Quick had stopped 40 of the 41 shots sent his way in what was a dominant possession game by St. Louis. The only goal he allowed came at the 9:05 mark to Steen off of an assist from Kevin Shattenkirk on a power play.
Quick proceeded to hold St. Louis scoreless for the next 64 minutes and 21 seconds.
With Quick's dominance established, it's bet-worthy that he will not make the same mistake in Game 2. In that same breath, it's quite likely that the NHL's 10th most powerful scoring offense only musters one goal on 13 shots less.
The Kings will take Game 2 and remind us of why they were the 2012 Stanley Cup champions.
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