NHL Playoff Picture
Alright folks, it’s that time of year again. The time that all of us hockey fans (not so) patiently anticipate all season — the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Start placing your bets because anything can happen in the Stanley Cup. Seriously, anything!
We are almost through with the first round and already have seen some great hockey and well, some not so great hockey.
Let me break down what’s been going on in round one of the playoffs…
San Jose Sharks vs. Anaheim Ducks
These teams couldn’t hate each other anymore than they already do, yet here we are.
The Sharks definitely got the Ducks number and it was game over (literally). But I’m sure I can speak for many people when I say that nobody expected the Ducks to lose four straight games right out of the gate.
Their third loss they lost 8-1! Yikes.
The thing is, the Ducks are a solid team lead by their extremely talented and consistent captain, Ryan Getzlaf. They had an impressive season, but choked when it mattered most.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils
Not really any surprises here.
Tampa Bay is on fire right now and placed first in the Atlantic division and clinched the best record in the Eastern conference while New Jersey only made it this far with a wild card spot.
The Devils happened to be in one of the most competitive divisions this season, but pulled off a winning record that got them one of the last spots in the race for the Stanley Cup.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. LA Kings
How about them Vegas Golden Knights?
The Kings are not a bad team at all, but the Golden Knights sure gave them a run for their money. Some call it pure talent, others call it beginner’s luck.
Call it what you want, but this expansion team has been together for less than a year, won first place in their division, and is now on the move to bring home the Stanley Cup. Can you even imagine!?
With an unstoppable goalie like Marc-Andre Fleury and a newly developed team of hustlers, the Golden Knights might just pull this off and, damn, would that be exciting.
Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Boston Bruins finished the season ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic division, but not by much. Boston signed a lot of old players like Rick Nash and Brian Gionta, putting all their eggs in one basket trying to come out on top this year.
The Bruins are only up 2-1 on the Maple Leafs so far, but it’s early and they have talent across the board to go all the way.
Definitely keep a close eye on the Bruins. They are in it to win it.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Then we have the team who has been defending Stanley Cup Champions for the past two years who are looking to clinch their third title, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins are up 3-1 against the Philadelphia Flyers, as any top seed should be against a wild card team.
While they are a top contender and it’s tough to bet against a team with a record as good as the Penguins, can we all agree that we don’t want to see Sidney Crosby win another title?
Or is that just me?
While Rangers fans like myself would hate to see it, a third championship is not out of the question for Pittsburgh.
Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
The Capitals clinched the division title in the regular season, but in the Metropolitan division there was insane talent across the board. Being in that same division, the Blue Jackets are by no means an easy competitor!
In fact, the Blue Jackets are leading the series 2-1.
This is pretty typical of the Capitals, they are always very good in the regular season, but notorious for choking in the playoffs. After all, superstar Alex Ovechkin has yet to play in a conference final…
Pretty hard to believe as he is one of the best in the league. If Ovechkin and the Capitals can clean some things up and fix some mistakes, maybe history won’t repeat itself for Washington.
Winnipeg Jets vs. Minnesota Wild
The Jets have a dangerous offensive line and a group of players with great potential, so this series is playing out as expected so far.
The Wild have only advanced to the second round of the playoffs twice in 15 years and it isn’t looking like that is going to change since they are matched against the Jets in round 1.
Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche
Finally we have an interesting matchup.
We have a team that came very close to calling themselves the champions in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, the Nashville Predators, and a team who no hockey fans expected to see in the playoffs this year, the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avalanche barely found themselves a spot in the playoffs and are having to face a powerhouse team like Nashville in round one. Nashville leads the series 3-1, and will likely clinch sooner rather than later.
They were only a wild card team last season and still found their way to the finals and now they are the President’s Trophy winners as the best team in the regular season.
I’d say the Predators are on the prowl for their prey as they try to redeem themselves after a painful loss last year.
There you have it, people.
This really is anyone’s cup this year. SO much talent, SO much potential, and SO much room for upsets.
We will have to wait and see how this one pans out. I said it once and I’ll say it again, how f***ing awesome would it be to see the Golden Knights come out on top?
Whatever happens in this Stanley Cup let’s just hope we see some exciting fights on the ice am I right?