Hockey analytics pioneer Rob Vollman is ESPN Insider's armchair GM this season, exploring how modern statistics can inform front-office decisions.
The parity of the salary-cap era makes first-round blowouts far less common than they used to be. Since the new CBA was first introduced in 2005, only nine of the 72 first-round series have ended in four-game sweeps, and there were only 16 teams that were dispatched in five. Looking ahead, are there any potentially lopsided matchups coming up this spring?
When it comes to making predictions, possession-based metrics are the stats of choice because of their close relationship to winning, and their persistence from game to game and month to month. That's why it's so uncommon for weak possession teams to make the playoffs, and why the Stanley Cup champion is normally among the regular season's league leaders in puck possession.
Here are four potential playoff matchups that could be lopsided, including two in which the more vulnerable team is a current division leader.