New Jersey went out with barely a whimper in the first round. Minnesota was eliminated back in December. The Ducks even before that. Even the Red Wings and their mastery at the left-wing lock are golfing.
When you look at the remaining four teams, you notice one important thing: None of them are trapping teams in the standard sense.
Calgary and San Jose play a puck pursuit game. They are constantly after the puck carrier, forcing turnovers, and plastering thier opponents into the boards wherever possible. These two teams must be hating their upcoming series. A Sutter team vs a Sutter built team. Strong goaltending; Tough, physical defensemen; relatively balanced scoring, though the Flames have the advantage of a Richard Trophy winner. For both teams, this series will be like playing their own mirror images.
The Lightning play a similar style, but with a much better offense. They will pursue the puck relentlessly, but once they get the puck, they do not give it up easily.
The Flyers play a hybrid style. They will trap when they need to. They will beat you with hard forechecking and backchecking when they need to. They will control the puck when they need to.
But, unlike three of the four teams that made it this far last season, none of this years NHL Semifinalists play a game that are more likely to cure insomnia than they are to generate a historical series that will be remembered for years to come.
The final two rounds of the playoffs will be a refreshing departure from a full decade of trapping to success. Hopefully, it is a sign of things to come.