A five seed edging a four seed hardly seems like an upset, especially when that No. 5 team is the Detroit Red Wings. Not to mention when the Eastern Conference Playoffs have featured a bevy of far more-stunning outcomes.
Taking out a top seed? That would surely be more unexpected. Or would it?
The Red Wings aren't favored to take down the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Semifinals, but they do win the series more often than they were expected to against the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round.
Detroit made it through that series with a 6-1 victory in a Game 7 that capped off a topsy-turvy series. The Red Wings averaged more than 3.7 goals per game and held the Coyotes to one goal or less in three of the seven games, but still needed a decisive final game to advance.
Young goaltender Jimmy Howard was solid in the first round, but he'll have to pick it up even more to match the numbers of Evgeni Nabokov, who put together one of the best series of any first-round goalie. Nabokov allowed just 1.76 goals per game and saved 92.6 percent of the shots fired his way.
The Sharks took care of Colorado in the first round in six games, and the series might have ended sooner without what amounted to a fluke own-goal in overtime of Game 3.
Still, simply making it out of the first round may have lifted the weight off the shoulders of a team that had been prone to early postseason exits.
Red Wings vs Sharks Series Simulation
|Matchup||Avg. Series||Avg Goals||WIS Interactive|
|Detroit Red Wings||2||2.0||Boxscore|
|San Jose Sharks||4||2.9||Simulate Game|
San Jose still has work to do to entirely put those demons to rest, however. To do that, the Sharks will have to knock off a team that beat them in three of four meetings in the regular season.
They should do just that, winning nearly two-thirds of the series simulations with Detroit. The Sharks nearly outscored the Red Wings by an entire goal in each of those simulations.
Still, the Red Wings, who were favored to win just about 27-percent of their matchups with Phoenix, is more favored one round later. But they'll need to rattle Nabokov to make a bigger upset happen this time around.
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