It’s the middle of spring! Which means it’s Stanley Cup Playoff Season! This year there are plenty of talented and interesting teams in the running. The Playoffs started in April and we have just hit the end of round one and will start round two in this upcoming week. To win a series, a hockey team needs to win best of seven games against their opponent. In the last round, only two teams swept their round one opponent, two won the round in five games, two won in six and only one team won the round in seven games. Playoffs consist of three rounds of series against teams and then the final two winning teams to compete for the cup.
There are eight teams in the running for the Cup in round two with seven teams from the United States and only one team from Canada. There already have been some interesting match ups with two Pennsylvanian teams and two Californian teams going head to head as well as the seven game series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. The next round will feature matchups of the Boston Bruins versus the Tampa Bay Lightnings, the Winnipeg Jets versus the Nashville Predators, the Vegas Golden Knights versus the San Jose Sharks and the the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Washington Capitals.
I personally don’t think the Boston Bruins will get far, though admittedly I might be bias as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. Though I will say, with the series they played, having botched a possible 4-1 win by losing two games, I don’t think they’re go as far against a team like Tampa Bay which has been number one in the NHL all season. In general, a lot of hockey fans dislike the Bruins, mostly due to the fact that the team tends to get away with way too much as far as penalties and bad sportsmanship, as well as the collective hatred of player Brad Marchand that many have nicknamed the “Rat King.” Most of his hatred this season came from the amount of suspension amassed due to injuring other players, his last major one giving him a five day suspension. It’ll be interesting to see how many games the two play in this series.
The Jets veres Predators matchup is also interesting as the Winnipeg Jets have never won a Stanley Cup before in the history of their franchise. It’ll be cool to see them make it far, however the Predators are a relentless team containing a very talented goalie, Pekka Rinne, as well as an incredible defensemen, P.K. Suban. The team had been finalists against the Pittsburgh Penguins last year, losing two nothing in game six. The Predators have been second in the league for most of the season, climbing to the second spot near the end.
The Vegas Golden Knights have proven to be a very tough team to beat despite being a rookie team. In their first ever season, the team has been in the top three consistently. They contain a slew of experienced characters from teams all over the league which adds to their strength however, it’s still rare for a team this new to be this good. Never in the recent history has a rookie team won a Stanley Cup, but due to great players like goalie Marc Andre- Fleury and James Neal, they are definitely a team to watch out for. As for the San Jose Sharks, they are an interesting team in the running as well. This team has also never won a Stanley Cup but have been finalists for the 2016 cup. And let’s be honest, we can’t get enough of the gnarly beast on the ice who is Brent Burns. I mean look at those teeth.
And finally, the matchup between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins could also be interesting, however peoples money seems to be on the Penguins. Last year, they won the cup against the Nashville Predators and also won against the San Jose Sharks in 2016. One player, Sidney Crosby has been called by a lot of sportscasters as possibly the best player in the NHL right now, (next to Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers) due to his hight stats. Personally I’m sure how the Capitals will do. They haven’t been entirely remarkable in series so far and their only star player really is Alexander Ovechkin. In all honesty I can’t really see them giving the Penguins much of a fight. Who knows, they might surprise us.
Personally, I’ll be rooting for the Vegas Golden Knights and the Nashville Predators because I find the way both teams play to be very interesting, but only one of the two will make it to the finals. There are a lot of teams in the running who already have rivalries, most notably Predators and Bruins especially the rivalry of P.K. Subban and Brad Marchand who both used to play for the Montreal Canadiens. As well as the the Predators and the Penguin; and the San Jose Sharks and the Penguins who have both competed in the most recent Cups. Either way, it’ll be a very fun series. Who are you rooting for?