The Stanley Cup Playoffs Are The Most Important Time Of Year

The Stanley Cup Playoffs Are The Most Important Time Of Year

Who's not excited for the best hockey of the year?


There are a select few days in the sports world that should be considered a national holiday, and today is one of them. Today marks the beginning of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a span of high-level NHL hockey from now until June, where every team dreams of that one historic moment: hoisting the Stanley Cup above their head for the world to see. For me, it marks the beginning of being glued to my computer screen 24/7, incredible mood swings that are dictated by games, a spectacular amount of sleep deprivation, and weeks of wearing nothing but hockey jerseys. It's almost like my life revolves around this game for the next 6 weeks, even more so than normal. So let's take a look at the first round playoff matchups, and my *hopefully* correct predictions.

The first game of the playoffs this season (and most important in my opinion) features the #1 Tampa Bay Lightning out of the Atlantic division versus the second Wild Card Columbus Blue Jackets. As much as I love Columbus, with a burning passion, this series has me very anxious. Tampa Bay has had one of the best seasons in the history of the NHL, racking up an insane 62 wins and 128 points, both were NHL records for a single season. Plus, the Lightning have two of the best players in the league in Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, and both are leading the league in every single stat possible. However, Columbus has been clicking at the right time, winning five straight before losing in their regular season home finale to Boston. With players like Artemi Panarin, Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner, and Nick Foligno clicking at the right time, this series could surprise some people. But perhaps the most fun matchup of this series is going to come between the pipes. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is leading the league in GAA, save percentage, and wins. But right behind him is the Columbus net-minder, Sergei Bobrovsky who comes in second in the league in all of the above stats, and Bob has significantly more ice time. Now, am I saying Columbus has a chance? Of course. Do I think we will win? Probably not. My call is the Lightning in six.

The next game features two Metropolitan (the best division) opponents, the #2 New York Islanders and the #3 Pittsburgh Penguins. As much as I hate to admit it, the Penguins really come alive during the playoffs, and I sadly see them moving on past the Islanders. While this isn't the strongest Pens team we've seen in the past few years, the Pens always make a run. Crosby has 100 points, and the big three of Kessel, Malkin, and Guentzel lead in points as well, including a huge 40 goals from Guentzel. Now, this is not saying that the Islanders are just going to roll over and give up, and the fact that Barzal is their leading player is nothing to sneeze at. But the Pens simply have more depth and more playoff experience, including their goalie Matt Murray, who comes in at 11th in the league in stats, while both Islanders goalies are in the twenties. While the Islanders are a good team, I just don't think they can hang with the experience and top lines of the Pens, so Pens in seven(sadly).

Now we finally get to the first game in the Western Conference, between the #2 Winnipeg Jets and #3 St. Louis Blues. This series is a similar situation to that of Pittsburgh and New York. St. Louis is clearly a good team, but simply doesn't have the firepower that Winnipeg does. Between O'Reilly, Tarasenko, and Schenn, the Blues can clearly do some damage, even more so if Bozak and Pietrangelo are on their game. However, with the experience of Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who really came alive during the Jets' playoff run last year, I don't see St. Louis really being able to compete with the defensive depth of the Jets, specifically Laine and Wheeler. I call Winnipeg in five.

Next up, we have the #1 Nashville Predators versus the first Wild Card team in the West, the Dallas Stars. This is a very interesting matchup and could be one of the more competitive series in the first round. These teams played five times during the regular season, with Nashville having the slight advantage in the series, 3-2. The two franchises are Central Division rivals and always play well against each other. Dallas has vital goal scorers in Seguin and Radulov, plus some great goaltending in Ben Bishop, who could prove vital if the Stars were to make a run because of his previous playoff experience with Tampa Bay. However, let's not forget about the monster that is the Predators' first two lines. Between the defensive efforts of Subban, Josi, and Ellis, plus the scoring abilities of Johansen and Arvidsson make the Preds very dangerous. Add in the experience and quickness of Pekka Rinne, and you've got a very dangerous team. I call the Preds in six.

Continuing in the West, the #3 Las Vegas Golden Knights are looking to knock off their Pacific Division rivals, the #2 San Jose Sharks. This situation bears resemblance to the Preds-Stars series because these two teams know each other very well. They have played each other four times during the season, with the series being split 2-2. San Jose can clearly compete with Vegas, specifically in their top lines with Burns, Kane, Karlsson, Thorton, and Palveski, but a clear weakness can be found in their goaltending. Both goalies for the Sharks have almost a 3.00 GAA per game, and with Marc-Andre Fleury on the other side of the rink, chances are very likely that Fleury will win the goaltending battle. For Vegas, watching them shows more cohesion as a team and a very solid backup goalie in Malcolm Subban. However, the Sharks have some significantly larger players who hit harder. Vegas likes to play the boards, while San Jose has a more straightforward passing scheme. This series will be very entertaining, and I'm going to say Vegas in seven.

Moving back to the East, a series that has me very excited is the #2 Boston Bruins against the #3 Toronto Maple Leafs. Again, like most series in the playoffs, these teams know each other very well and do not always have the most friendly relations. These two teams have played four times in the season, with Boston winning the series 3-1. Based on the regular season meetings, and with the strength of the Bruins in Chara, Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak, the Bruins have no problem scoring and are very hard-hitters. However, Tuukka Rask has been off his game for a decent chunk of the season and has almost a 3.00 GAA. And if there's one thing that Toronto can do well, it's score goals. Between Matthews and Tavares, the Leafs are dangerous enough, but add in Marner and the third and fourth lines, there's a high chance that the Leafs can create some chaos up front to disrupt Rask. As much as we're really pulling for Toronto here, the Bruins have more depth and seem to have had the Leafs' number this season, so Boston in 7.

With the final matchup in the East, the #1 Washington Capitals will face off against the first Wild Card team, the Carolina Hurricanes. These two teams met four times in the season, with Washington sweeping the series 4-0. Unfortunately, I see this playoff series going about as well as the regular season one. Carolina's biggest weapon is Sebastian Aho, who by all means is an absolutely incredible player, but there isn't a lot of depth past the first two lines, whereas Washington is one of the most in-depth teams in the league. Carolina has decent goaltending, but I don't think that it will be enough against Ovechkin. Washington has other weapons as well, such as Backstrom, Kuznetsov, and Oshie. But let's not forget the brick wall that is Brayden Holtby during the playoffs. With the incredible depth of Washington in the third and fourth lines, like Wilson, Eller, Carlson, and Vrana, I really don't see a way that Carolina breaks through the tough defense of the Caps and plays good enough defense of their own to survive. Sadly, I see Washington in five.

And finally, in the last playoff matchup, we have the #1 Calgary Flames from the West against the second Western Wild Card Colorado Avalanche. These two teams have not seen much of each other this season, mostly because Calgary plays in the Pacific while Colorado is a Central team. The Flames have swept the season series 3-0, and that's mostly due to the depth of the Flames, as well as their scoring abilities. Gaudreau, Monahan, Lindholm, and Tkachuk lead the Flames with at least 27 goals each. While it's clear that the Flames have goal-scoring abilities, they have a similar problem to Boston, that the goaltending hasn't been as good as it should be this season. If Colorado wants to have a shot at moving on, their top players like MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Landeskog have to create some commotion in front of the net and take quality shots to score on a tough Flames defense. Colorado's goalie, Philipp Grubauer has been inconsistent this season, but has to be on his game every minute to deal with Calgary. I think Colorado can put up a decent fight, but not enough to defeat Calgary. I call Calgary in six.

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When You Give A Girl A Dad

You give her everything

They say that any male can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. That dads are just the people that created the child, so to speak, but rather, dads raise their children to be the best they can be. Further, when you give a little girl a dad, you give her much more than a father; you give her the world in one man.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a rock.

Life is tough, and life is constantly changing directions and route. In a world that's never not moving, a girl needs something stable. She needs something that won't let her be alone; someone that's going to be there when life is going great, and someone who is going to be there for her when life is everything but ideal. Dads don't give up on this daughters, they never will.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a role model.

If we never had someone to look up to, we would never have someone to strive to be. When you give a little girl someone to look up to, you give her someone to be. We copy their mannerisms, we copy their habits, and we copy their work ethic. Little girls need someone to show them the world, so that they can create their own.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her the first boy she will ever love.

And I'm not really sure someone will ever be better than him either. He's the first guy to take your heart, and every person you love after him is just a comparison to his endless, unmatchable love. He shows you your worth, and he shows you what your should be treated like: a princess.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her someone to make proud.

After every softball game, soccer tournament, cheerleading competition, etc., you can find every little girl looking up to their dads for their approval. Later in life, they look to their dad with their grades, internships, and little accomplishments. Dads are the reason we try so hard to be the best we can be. Dads raised us to be the very best at whatever we chose to do, and they were there to support you through everything. They are the hardest critics, but they are always your biggest fans.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a credit card.

It's completely true. Dads are the reason we have the things we have, thank the Lord. He's the best to shop with too, since he usually remains outside the store the entire time till he is summoned in to forge the bill. All seriousness, they always give their little girls more than they give themselves, and that's something we love so much about you.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a shoulder to cry on.

When you fell down and cut yourself, your mom looked at you and told you to suck it up. But your dad, on the other hand, got down on the ground with you, and he let you cry. Then later on, when you made a mistake, or broke up with a boy, or just got sad, he was there to dry your tears and tell you everything was going to be okay, especially when you thought the world was crashing down. He will always be there to tell you everything is going to be okay, even when they don't know if everything is going to be okay. That's his job.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a lifelong best friend.

My dad was my first best friend, and he will be my last. He's stood by me when times got tough, he carried me when I just couldn't do it anymore, and he yelled at me when I deserved it; but the one thing he has never done was give up on me. He will always be the first person I tell good news to, and the last person I ever want to disappoint. He's everything I could ever want in a best friend and more.

Dads are something out of a fairytale. They are your prince charming, your knight in shinny amour, and your fairy godfather. Dads are the reasons we are the people we are today; something that a million "thank you"' will never be enough for.

Cover Image Credit: tristen duhon

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Every Question You Have About The Stanley Cup Playoffs, Answered

The Stanley Cup is upon us and there are a few things you should know if you're tuning in for the first time.


April is such a crazy time this year in the entertainment arena. With "March Madness" coming to a close, the Stanly Cup Playoffs beginning April 9th, "Game of Thrones" premiering its final season on Sunday, April 14th and "Avengers: End Game" premiering Friday, April 26, things are going to be insane all month long.

To kick things off, hockey fans everywhere are preparing for the Stanley Cup. Here are a few tips if you have no idea what the Stanley Cup is to make you look like you know exactly what you are talking about (even if you don't know anything about hockey in the first place).

1. What even is hockey, anyways?


Hockey is a sport that is played against two teams on the ice. The players wear skates, use ice hockey sticks and play with a rubber disc called a puck. The objective of the game is to score on the opponent's goal. The game itself can be very fast paced, physical and it's very popular in the United States, Canada, Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.

2. Why do people care about the NHL?


It is widely thought that the NHL (in North America) is the most admired hockey league in the world. As of right now, there are currently 31 teams in the NHL both from the U.S. and Canada.

3. What is the Stanley Cup?


The Stanley Cup is named after Lord Stanley of Preston who was the 1892 Governor General of Canada. The shiny silver cup was purchased by him in London and he then donated it to award the top amateur hockey club located in Canada. The first winner of the Stanley Cup in 1893, was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (or MAAA). The cup has an escort (currently Philip Pritchard), who always accompanies it. The poor cup has seen its fair share of horror, including being urinated in by the New York Rangers.

4. So how do the Stanley Cup Playoffs work?


Well, the Stanley Cup Playoffs usually begin the first few weeks of April and can go into the first week of June (depending on how fast each team makes it thru the four rounds of best-of-seven series.) There are eight teams from each of the two conferences and are in the tournament depending on how well they did during the regular season. Whoever wins the cup gets the claim to the trophy for the year.

5. What happens if a team wins?


It's a really big deal to win the Stanley Cup. Basically, it's just a ton of bragging rights and being able to say that your team worked really hard to get there. Imagine working so hard to get that big promotion at work and you get it. It's a wonderful feeling but if you don't get it, well there can be some tears (and let me tell you it can be very sad watching hockey players cry.)

6. Who were last year's Stanley Cup winners?


The defending champs, the Washington Capitals, are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. Winning for the first time in franchise history, the Capitals hope to make a Stanley Cup Final appearance and win again. Since I was six years old, I have been the biggest Capitals fan so being able to be in Washington D.C. and watch them win was one of the best moments in my life (I am hoping for a repeat... but this year there are some really awesome teams.)

7. Who is predicted to win?


Coming in hot with the most wins for the regular season and the team I have been calling to win since their loss to the Washinton Capitals during the third round of the playoffs last year, the Tampa Bay Lightning led by Steven Stamkos are the big favorites to win this year. Both the Calgary Flames and the Vegas Golden Knights are close contenders. I'm calling it now, though. The Tampa Bay Lightning will be hoisting the Stanley Cup in June.

8. Are there any underdogs?


Out of all the teams (besides the Washington Capitals of course), I was really hoping to see the Carolina Hurricanes go to the playoffs. This team, who have become famous this year for their post-game celebrations, have really stepped it up. The last time this team made a playoff run was in 2009. It's really great to see a team who isn't normally in the playoffs competing. Although I can't wish them luck as they are playing against the Capitals in the first round, I hope to see them play next year.

9. So who should I talk about to make it sound like I actually watch hockey?


Whenever I talk about hockey, people seem to like to quiz me on players to see if I really know hockey. A few players you should mention to people if they bring the Stanley Cup are as follows. Right Winger on the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nikita Kucherov, is on fire this season with 87 assists. I hate to be basic but Alex Ovechkin and the reason for him is that he is sitting at 51 goals, making this his eighth season to obtain 50+ goals a season.

Brad Marchand is a huge fighter, but the Boston Bruins would be lost without him. If you really want to piss a New York Islanders fan off, you just need to mention John Tavares name. Lastly, Brent Burns is one of the best defensemen and plays for the San Jose Sharks. He's got some pretty great locks of hair and a big toothy smile but he can play hockey like no other. Of course, there are so many other talented great players this playoff run, but these are just a few you could mention.

10.  I heard there are a lot of fights in hockey ... do you think I'll see one?


Yes, fights happen in hockey all the time but especially during the playoffs. Tensions are high, but so are penalties. Tensions are especially high when a team is playing game four and if they don't win they are done. I have seen some pretty nasty fights break out during the playoffs and it's not pretty especially when it involves fans. Be prepared to see some fights break out and would not be surprised to see if Tom Wilson gets suspended again as he does every year (for no good reason) during the playoffs.

11. Why does the Stanley Cup Playoffs affect me?


The Stanley Cup Playoffs are way more fun than a lot of other sports playoffs in my opinion. I saw this first-hand when the Washington Capitals won and how the whole city of D.C., Virginia, and Maryland came together (yes we see you bandwagon fans). It's a sport that's fast, exciting and brings people together.

May the best team win.

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