1st Round Recap of the NHL Playoffs

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1st Round Recap of the NHL Playoffs

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Courtesy of Creative Commons

https://www.maxpixel.net/

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Courtesy of Creative Commons

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This year the Stanley Cup Playoffs have had plenty of drama, upsets, and surprises to say the least. The first and probably most shocking headline was when the Columbus Blue Jackets upset the number one overall seed, Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning had finished the regular season with 62 wins, tying an NHL record, while the Blue Jackets barely made their way into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The worst part for Lightning fans is that they were swept in 4 games. Nobody expected them to lose and certainly not to get embarrassed that badly. Some hockey fans believe karma played a role in the Lightning’s embarrassment. Before their home opener against the Blue Jackets, Lightning fans hosted a large tailgate party in Tampa Bay outside of their arena, and the Stanley Cup trophy was present. Tampa Bay might have been the overall number one seed, but they were by no means the defending champions, and convincing the league to bring the Stanley Cup to their playoff opener tailgate party might have been the boldest move of the entire playoffs. Either way, it was not meant to be for the Lightning.

 

As for the actual defending champions, the Washington Capitals opened the playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Capitals were also heavily favored but the series could not have been closer as the Caps ended up losing in an overtime Game 7. One of the biggest highlights of the series was the fight between Russian superstar Alexander Ovechkin of the Capitals and another Russian born player, Andrei Svechnikov of the Hurricanes. This fight was talked about a lot around the league for a few reasons. First of all, although fights are common in the NHL, rarely do top point scorers as Ovechkin get involved. They usually save that for the bigger, less skilled guys. However, Ovechkin showed that he is more than just a goal scorer by knocking out Svechnikov with three heavy punches. The brutal knockout also did stir up some slight conversation around the hockey world about the necessity of keeping fighting in the game. Overall, it is a scary sight to see, but a vast majority of fans and players believe it is an important aspect to the game and something that makes hockey so unique.

 

Another interesting series was between last year’s runner-up, the Vegas Golden Knights, who are in their second ever season, and the San Jose Sharks. The series ended in one of the craziest Game 7 finishes in Stanley Cup history. With just over 16 minutes left in the 3rd period, the Sharks were down three to nothing. Then after a somewhat controversial call put a Vegas player in the penalty box for five minutes, the Sharks went on a scoring spree and scored four straight goals to obtain a 4-3 lead. Then, with less than one minute left when the Sharks were all but sure they had won, Vegas tied the game and sent it to overtime. After the teams went to the locker room to regroup, Barclay Goodrow of the Sharks scored the game-winner and completed the comeback, sending San Jose to the next round.

 

Other upsets from the first round included the Colorado Avalanche beating the number one team in the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames, and the Dallas Stars defeating the Nashville Predators. With Dallas, Colorado, Columbus, and Carolina all moving to the second round, all four wild-card teams advanced, which sums up how the playoffs have gone so far. I’ll end with my prediction and say that the Columbus Blue Jackets will be the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions.