Buzzing on Yahoo Sports

Puck Daddy

Ranking the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series: Which ones are must-see?

Getty Images

The 2012 Stanley Cup Playoff matchups are set; here's a quick look at the Eastern Conference and Western Conference battles.

But which ones are worth watching?

Your friends at Puck Daddy provide you with a handy ranking of the eight first-round series based on the following factors: Star Power, Secondary Plotlines, Hate, Controversy, Arena Atmosphere, Game 7 Probability and the potential for awesome playoff facial masterpieces, aka Beard-o-sity.

Which series is the most compelling in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Each category gets a number grade from 1-to-10, with 10 being the highest grade.

8. Florida Panthers (3) vs. New Jersey Devils (6)

Star Power - 4
Secondary Plotlines - 5
Hate Factor - 1
Controversy Quotient - 2
Arena Atmosphere - 4
Game 7 Probability - 4
Beard-o-sity - 5

FINAL SCORE: 25

The Devils bring some star power in Ilya Kovalchuk, Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise into a series against … er … some of them played for the Blackhawks this one time we think.

That said, Pete DeBoer vs. the Panthers and Scott Clemmensen vs. the Devils provide some drama in a series that otherwise will be a tightly played affair. Sunrise should be rocking for the Panthers' first playoff appearance since 2000. Newark probably won't be sold out.

7. Phoenix Coyotes (3) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (6)

Star Power - 5
Secondary Plotlines - 5
Hate Factor - 2
Controversy Quotient - 4
Arena Atmosphere - 8
Game 7 Probability - 8
Beard-o-sity - 5

FINAL SCORE: 37

The Blackhawks carry the star-power load here, but the Coyotes might have the most compelling secondary plotlines: Their first division title, Dave Tippett's mastery, Mike Smith vs. the Blackhawks' top talent and, of course, whether Glendale, Seattle or Quebec City will be celebrating their playoff success next season.

Beard-o-sity remains high for Raffi Torres's ginger classic, Jonathan Toews' Victorian age vampire chops and what we hope is Patrick Kane's beard-mullet combo.

6. New York Rangers (1) vs. Ottawa Senators (8)

Star Power - 7
Secondary Plotlines - 6
Hate Factor - 3
Controversy Quotient - 5
Arena Atmosphere - 8
Game 7 Probability - 5
Beard-o-sity - 4

FINAL SCORE: 38

This unexpected series doesn't exactly have it in the hate department, but that could easily change with a few contentious early games at the Garden. What it does have is some solid star-power on both sides of the ice — Erik Karlsson on the big stage could be one of the first round's most intriguing performers — and some secondary drama: Can the Rangers avoid the first-round upset in what's been built up as a Cup year? Is this Daniel Alfredsson's last ride? Will any player, official, coach or water bottle be spared John Tortorella's wrath?

Beard-o-sity is set at four, mainly because we're genuinely afraid to see what Karlsson and Carl Hagelin attempt to grow.

5. St. Louis Blues (2) vs. San Jose Sharks (7)

Star Power - 7
Secondary Plotlines - 6
Hate Factor - 6
Controversy Quotient - 5
Arena Atmosphere - 9
Game 7 Probability - 5
Beard-o-sity - 6

FINAL SCORE: 44

The Blues enter the great unknown, as one of the best teams in the regular season attempts to transfer that performance to the playoffs against a Sharks team that, well, is a bit of a disappointment in case you haven't heard.

The hate factor gets bumped up because these two teams have a bit of a playoff history; the die hard fans'll care, even if the players don't.

Is there anything to be mined out of David Perron facing Joe Thornton in the playoffs? Or what happens if the Sharks fail here? Or if Jaroslav Halak becomes impenetrable again while Niemi (or Griess) are sieve city?

Very interested to see the beard-o-sity on the Blues' side of the ice.

4. Vancouver Canucks (1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (8)

Star Power - 8
Secondary Plotlines - 6
Hate Factor - 7
Controversy Quotient - 9
Arena Atmosphere - 8
Game 7 Probability - 7
Beard-o-sity - 5

FINAL SCORE: 50

A rematch from a playoff series two years ago, when the Canucks won in six. It was a battle that had its controversial moments, and now we've got Mike Richards joining the proceedings. (And really, we all know at some point Tony Gallagher's going to write the "NHL wants Hollywood in the second round of the playoffs" screed.)

The goaltending is one big secondary plotline: Roberto Luongo staring over his shoulder at Cory Schneider and Jonathan Quick trying to lug his team over another finish line.

The controversy and hate factors could take a jump if the Kings target some of the Canucks players as they did Logan Couture in the last two games of the season. Especially if that player is Daniel Sedin.

3. Nashville Predators (4) vs. Detroit Red Wings (5)

Star Power - 8
Secondary Plotlines - 7
Hate Factor - 5
Controversy Quotient - 6
Arena Atmosphere - 10
Game 7 Probability - 8
Beard-o-sity - 8

FINAL SCORE 52

This series could be a pressure-cooker: Two teams battling tooth and nail to find playoff success before their respective windows close. (For Nashville, it's pending free agency; for Detroit, it's the advancement of time.) There's a lot to like here from a hockey perspective, including Trotz vs. Babcock. And we all know that this series will be good for at least a few complaints about Jimmy Howard being run or Franzen/Holmstrom bumping Rinne.

Shea Weber alone bumps up the beard-o-sity of this series something wicked.

2. Boston Bruins (2) vs. Washington Capitals (7)

Star Power - 9
Secondary Plotlines - 9
Hate Factor - 6
Controversy Quotient - 8
Arena Atmosphere - 10
Game 7 Probability - 7
Beard-o-sity - 7

FINAL SCORE: 56

The Stanley Cup champions vs. the team some had winning the Cup before their inconsistent and disappointing season left them on the playoff bubble with two games left.

This series has some immediate secondary plotlines thanks to both the Capitals' previous postseason flops and a certain Free Citizen returning to Washington D.C. for playoff hockey. Bump the plotlines and controversy up to '11' if Obama finally catches a Caps game in Round 1.

The beard-o-sity is a seven, based on the assumed foliage from the Boston Bruins (and Zdeno Leonidas) and Ovechkin growing whatever his razor sponsorship will allow.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (5)

Star Power - 10
Secondary Plotlines - 10
Hate Factor - 10
Controversy Quotient - 9
Arena Atmosphere - 10
Game 7 Probability - 8
Beard-o-sity - 8

FINAL SCORE: 65

So yeah, this is going to be fun.

The star power is off the charts with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jaromir Jagr and Claude Giroux; to go along with the players like Brooks Orpik, Ilya Bryzgalov, Max Talbot and Scott Hartnell that will bring additional intrigue with their particular brand of whimsy.

And these teams HATE each other, from the players to the coaches to the fans that will be trading statue desecration for the next two weeks. Even the beard-o-sity gets a high mark in anticipation of Hartnell's transformation into Chewbacca and whatever the hell Sid and Jagr grow.

If you're not into this series, you're probably a basketball fan.

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Dan Wetzel: Bubba Watson plays his own brand of golf to win first major and green jacket
Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen apologizes for controversial Fidel Castro comment
Young European sensation scores on one of soccer's most difficult, dramatic plays

Follow Yahoo Canada Sports

Yahoo! Sports Authors