NHL Playoff Update: Caps Eliminated, Red Wings/Flyers Stand On Brink

After the thriller of a first round that we got from the NHL playoffs, many expected similar results out of the second round. But with one sweep already taking place on Wednesday night, and a couple more looking like they're in the cards very soon, it looks like the NHL will keep this second round short and sweet.

The Washington Capitals were the first team to see their Stanley Cup dreams come to an end, when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning by way of the sweep on Wednesday. It's just another year of disappointment for Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals, who experience an early playoff exit despite claiming the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed again.

The loss almost certain spells the end of Bruce Boudreau as head coach of the Caps, and this roster should look plenty different heading into the 2011-12 campaign. Names like Alexander Semin could find their way out of our nation's capital before next season.

Along with the sweep that the Caps suffered, the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers will need some serious momentum if they hope to even make their respective series' interesting.

The Red Wings are stuck in the same second round matchup as they were in in the 2009-10 season, with the San Jose Sharks. Unfortunately for the Wings, it's an oddly similar situation, as they lost that series in five games after going down 3-0 to San Jose.

After playoff disappointment that rivaled that of the Caps over the past few seasons, the Sharks look like they're hellbent on finally getting over the playoff hump and reaching the Stanley Cup finals. With last year's Cup-winning goaltender, Antti Niemi, between the pipes, they certainly look primed to do so. With the momentum and power the Sharks have carried over the past few months of the season, it would seem that the veteran Wings are all but finished in this year's playoffs.

The Flyers are also in the same matchup as last year's Eastern Conference semi-finals and are in the same 3-0 hole they were in last year. Their story is no secret, though, as the Flyers overcame a 3-0 series deficit and a 3-0 Bruins lead in Game 4 to take that series in seven games.

The Bruins seem to remember that not-so-fondly and have cruised to their three wins to this point. Backed by the outstanding play of their goaltender, Tim Thomas, the Bruins have outscored the Flyers 15-6 in the series, despite not scoring a power play goal until just over a minute was left in Wednesday's 5-1 win. With the Flyers taking seven games to defeat a less-than-impressive Buffalo Sabres squad, and the way they backpeddled into the playoffs, the Bruins look to have this one easily in hand as well.

Thursday presents just one game on the NHL slate, but it's the one series that each team has actually won a game. The Nashville Predators have given the Vancouver Canucks all they can handle in the three games to this point, but are still facing a 2-1 deficit. Much of that comes back to their inadequacies on the offensive end, but they have been very strong on the defensive end, as well as in goal, with Pekka Rinne. The Chicago Blackhawks presented the rest of the league with the formula to beat the Canucks, and if the Preds can manage to elevate the puck against Roberto Luongo on top of the physical play that comes so naturally to them.

At this point in the postseason, the only certainty we have is that a new team will be hoisting the Cup, after the depleted Blackhawks' first round exit. With three of the four conference semi-finals matchups looking like they could end in a sweep, it would be awfully  nice if we could just skip to the next round and avoid the inevitable.

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