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Parity reigning in NHL playoffs

Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) celebrates with teammates after the Coyotes defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 in Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Chicago, Monday, April 23, 2012.
Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) celebrates with teammates after the Coyotes defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 in Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Chicago, Monday, April 23, 2012.
Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Parity has taken over the NHL playoffs.

Headed into Thursday night's pair of Game 7s, Boston, Vancouver, Detroit and Chicago were already out of the postseason.

Those powerhouse teams gone, the chase for the Stanley Cup is as open as it's been in years, with teams like Phoenix, Nashville and St. Louis still in the hunt. The playoffs have a new vibe this season and Lord Stanley's coveted cup could end up in a place like Nashville or Glendale, Ariz.

One of the biggest surprises is the Los Angeles Kings.

After squeaking into the playoffs, they took down the Western Conference's top-seeded team, knocking out the Vancouver Canucks in a surprisingly easy five games.