The Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Quest For The Cup Begins Soon
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It's that time of year again. Yes, the Stanley Cup playoffs are right around the corner. The best teams in the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference square off to see who will take home the Stanley Cup. Each team has their strengths and weaknesses, but only one team will take it all.

Eastern Conference Teams

Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals are once again one of the favorites going into this postseason. Led by Alex Ovechkin, the team based out of our nation's capital looks to move past their second round elimination stigma and move towards their first Stanley Cup. Currently, the number 1 seed in the Metropolitan Division the Capitals will more than likely have an easy first round. The Capitals have clinched a playoff spot.

Columbus Blue Jackets

In a heated race with the Capitals for the President's Trophy, the Columbus Blue Jackets have come a long way since finishing dead last in the Metropolitan Division last year. Currently the number 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division, the Blue Jackets would square off against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blue Jackets have clinched a playoff spot.

Pittsburgh Penguins

After last year's historic run to the Stanely Cup, the reigning champions look to defend their title. With injuries to Bryan Rust, Oli Maata, Trevor Daley, Kris Letang, and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins look to their AHL affiliate team for young talent looking to make a playoff run. With a tough first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, and Brian Doumolin will look to take on the challenge after clinching a spot in the playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs

With the rising star of Auston Matthews scoring goals left and right for the Maple Leafs, the 19-year-old forward is a big reason why the Leafs are making the playoffs this year. However, a tough first round may prove to be the ultimate test for this young group of hockey players. They are the number 2 seed Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference so they will take on one of the best teams in the Conference.

Montreal Canadiens

Leading the Atlantic Division as the number 1 seed, the Canadiens will take on the New York Rangers. Shea Weber, Max Pacioretty, and Alexander Radulov look to lead their team past the first round. The Canadiens went into the playoffs last year as one of the favorites and fell flat on their face. Who knows what the New York Rangers will pull on them this year.

New York Rangers

It's no surprise to see the New York Rangers in the playoffs... Again! As the first Wild Card team, they take on the Montreal Canadiens, the first seed in the Atlantic Division (unless someone else takes over the first seed in the Atlantic Division). The Rangers have more points than the Canadiens, but the Metropolitan Division dominance has led the Rangers to have fight through Atlantic Division teams, which may actually play in their favor. Watch players like Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash lead the team and do whatever it takes to win.

Ottawa Senators

Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, and Kyle Turris look to make the Senators a contender in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Coming in as the number 2 seed in the Atlantic Division, the Senators have come a long way since giving up 4 goals to Auston Matthews in their opener. The Sens have a strong enough offensive to power through the defense on the other side of the ice.

Boston Bruins

Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, and Zdeno Chara are going to try to hold off their opponents in round one of the playoffs. After a season of plagued by injuries, the Boston Bruins have relied on Brad Marchand, one of the league's leading scorers to support them. If Tuukka Rask and Marchand step up big time the Boston Bruins can fly past their foes.

Western Conference Teams

San Jose Sharks

Last year's Stanley Cup Final losers come into this year's playoffs with a vengeance! As one of the best teams in the Western Conference, the Sharks lead the Pacific Division as the number 1 seed. Joe Thornton, Martin Jones, and Joe Pavelski are looking to lead their team to the franchise's first Stanley Cup. The Sharks will be aggressive and will utilize their offensive tools. As it stands the Sharks will take on the Calgary Flames.

Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames have been solid this year. If you were to ask me at the beginning of the season if I thought the Flames would be playing this well I would have laughed. The Flames don't necessarily have the history that screams success. However, they look to change that this year.

Anaheim Ducks

After getting upset by the Nashville Predators last year, the Anaheim Ducks look to strike back this year. After having some goaltender and defensive issues the Ducks still stayed strong throughout the season and may make it through the first round this year.

Edmonton Oilers

The obvious star for the Edmonton Oilers is Connor McDavid. Without McDavid the team is lifeless. If McDavid goes down so does the team. There's nothing wrong with having a playmaker, but if you rely on one player to rejuvenate the team you're in trouble. The Oilers could pull an upset, but I doubt it.

Nashville Predators

The Predators lost in the second round last year to the San Jose Sharks who went to the Stanley Cup Finals so they weren't too disappointed, but still. The Predators are looking to heat up the offense for a Stanley Cup run of the ages. No big time scorers on the team for the Predators so they will look for their defense and goaltenders to step up as well.

Minnesota Wild

For the longest time, the Minnesota Wild led the Western Conference until the Chicago Blackhawks started setting everything on fire. Over the past few weeks, the Wild have fallen off a bit. Not what you need before the playoffs. The Wild have an explosive offensive and an impressive defense as a great compliment. The Wild could go all the way, but the Blackhawks stand as their biggest roadblock.

St Louis Blues

After struggling the middle part of the season the Blues made some trades which has added stability to their lineup. After trading Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals, the Blues seemed to have found something with Zach Sanford and Brad Malone. The Blues could heat up at just the right time.

Chicago Blackhawks

As the Western Conference favorites, the Blackhawks are looking to win their 4th championship in the last 8 years. With Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews on fire right now, I wish every team luck against the hottest team in hockey. The Blackhawks are known for high scoring games and they will fight hard until the end.

Any team can step up at any time. Everyone in the NHL has to be good to a certain degree if they can play at the professional level. As it stands I have the Penguins, Rangers, Sharks, and Blackhawks in my final four. Things can still change by the time this is published and when the regular season ends. Go to https://www.nhl.com/stanley-cup-playoffs for a bracket and see how well you can do this postseason. May the odds be ever in your bracket.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Due To The Achilles Injury That Kevin Durant Has Sustained, This Will Affect His Free Agency And Game

What is next for one of the greatest players in NBA history?

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Let me start this article off by saying that I am not a Golden State Warriors fan. I am not a Kevin Durant fan, and I have not been since he left the OKC Thunder in 2016. I have an always have been an OKC fan and yes I hated Kevin Durant with such a passion. That is until Monday, June 10th. That is the day when I saw the toll being an NBA player takes on the humans that play the game. Each decision they make is judged so harshly that even if they get injured, the fault has to fall on someone, even if no one is to blame.

Game 5 showed us that Kevin Durant is very much human and clearly understands that. I have no respect for the Raptors fans who started cheering when he fell to the floor clutching his Achilles. As a fan base, I understand the stakes of the game but that doesn't make it ok to cheer when a player might be out for the rest of the series. That is a reflection I know the Raptors or the NBA don't want.

The NBA is a business and the reaction of these fans makes it seem like it's all about the completion and nothing about the game that has changed and affected so many people's lives. It also makes it seem like the fans do not show empathy for anything but the win and that the players must do everything to get the win.

As for Kevin Durant's future, it is up in doubt because an Achilles Tear has been a devastating injury to players in the past. The Achilles is the biggest tendon in the body and tearing such an integral component will clearly rob KD of the some of the length and athleticism he plays with because the surgery and the rehab are so long and difficult to complete. We may never see the person who completely took over the finals and carried his team to victory or score 30-50 a night with an insanely high-efficiency rate. All of that goes up in doubt because of this one horrible and career threatening injury.

As for his free agency, I think that this injury will help KD understand the fan base he has around him and his teammates who need him just as much as he needs them. The Raptors have stolen the finals from KD and the Warriors and this might compel him to stay another season and compete for a 3rd championship instead of going somewhere such as New York.

As for New York, they might as well start preparing for a losing season as they do not have the 1st overall pick to get Zion Williamson and Kyrie Irving has stated that he would much rather play for the Nets than the Knicks. That has to hurt a franchise who was looking to build a big three with the edition of KD and attempt to compete for a championship. All in all, I want to wish KD the best of luck in recovering and becoming a top 3 player in the NBA again.

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