Monday April 29th, 2013

The NHL playoffs were full of surprises last season, as the No. 8 seed L.A. Kings won the Stanley Cup.
/Cal Sport Media

With the puck set to drop on the NHL playoffs, let's takes a look at the X-factors in each series, those certain someones (or somethings) who will impact the fortunes of each of the 16 teams in the eight opening-round matchups.

WEST PREVIEWS: Hawks-Wild | Ducks-Red Wings | Canucks-Sharks | Blues-Kings EAST: Penguins-Islanders | Canadiens-Senators | Capitals-Rangers | Bruins-Leafs

Can the Kings repeat? Are the Penguins as good as people think? Was the Blackhawks' streak during the regular season merely a fluke? Who are some of the established veterans and unknown stars-to-be hovering on the edge of the playoff spotlight? What will the lower-seeded teams have to do in order to pull off an upset?

Here are eight video breakdowns exploring the X-factors that could determine the course of the first round of the NHL's postseason.

PLAYOFF PREP: Staff picks | Upset alert | Key storylines | Playoff Power Rankings | Schedule

Eastern Conference X-factors

Western Conference X-factors

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