NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin

16 teams are about to battle it out for the coveted Stanley Cup as the NHL playoffs begin. The first round has begun, so let’s take a look at predictions, stats, and highlights of each pair. 

Eastern Conference:

Boston Bruins vs. Florida Panthers (Tied 1-1)

  • The hottest team in hockey, the Boston Bruins have had a historic season; with a staggering, league-record 65 wins, the Bruins are loaded with seasoned talent. Center David Pastrnak leads the Bruins, while Florida, though managing to clinch the wildcard position with star player Matthew Tkachuck, seems to have a long uphill battle ahead of them. The first two games ended with a score of 3-1 Boston the first game, and Florida’s one goal lead early in the second period of the second game would prove impactful as they would go on to score 4 goals in the third for a sweeping 6-3 victory at TD Garden.

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders (CAR leads 2-0)

  • Carolina finished first in the Metropolitan division, and are facing off against the wild card Islanders in the first round. Carolina’s grappled with several detrimental injuries throughout the regular season, hoping these losses do not come back to bite them in the playoffs. So far, they haven’t, as the series stands with Carolina leading 2-0 with a crucial overtime victory in the second game, and the Islanders should be worried. 

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Tied 1-1)

  • Despite the obvious talent of players like Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews, the first game showed the Leafs continually getting in their own way against the Lightning. Tampa’s own experienced team narrowly lost the cup last year, losing to the Avalanche in the final round. The second game showed a different Leafs team; a 7-2 victory displayed promise, with the MVP of the game John Tavares with a hat trick.  

New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers (NYR leads 2-0)

The Hudson River rivalry returns. The Rangers and Devils hold bitter sentiments towards each other, dating back to times of the Original Six in hockey’s juvenile years. What many predict to be one of the most nail-biting match-ups, both teams seemed equally equipped to win, with the Devils possessing the edge with a better regular-season record, and the Rangers being the more experienced team. The experience has paid off; the Rangers grab a crucial 2-0 lead in the series with another 5-1 win. Chris Kreider notably scores another 2 power play goals for a total of 4 power play goals this series

Western Conference:

Colorado Avalanche vs. Seattle Kraken (SEA leads 1-0)

  • Last year’s Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche, are facing off against the newest NHL expansion team in the Seattle Kraken. The Kraken grabbed the first game with a strong second and third periods in a 3-1, and the second game had both teams tied at the end of the second. Ultimately, Game 2 ended in a Avalanche victory as goaltender Alexander Georgiev made incredible saves to bail out his team and win 3-2. Despite tonight’s loss, Seattle seems equipped to fight, and a Kraken victory would be a major upset in the playoffs.

Dallas Stars vs. Minnesota Wild (Tied 1-1)

  • The second and the place teams in the Central Division have an interesting battle set up. Both teams possess great players, Kaprizov and Robertson, both of whom scored in the first game, which ended in a Minnesota victory in overtime. Dallas jumped started the second game with an early first period goal by Hintz, who managed a hatrick in a 7-3 victory for Dallas to tie the series. 

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets (Tied 1-1)

  • Winnipeg exploded Tuesday night in a 5-1 win against the Golden Knights with an impressive three-goal third period. Somewhat of an underdog, Winnipeg seemed to have proved themselves a solid playoff contender with the first game, and by the second, Vegas showed off their ability too in a 5-2 win to tie. 

Edmonton Oilers vs Los Angeles Kings (Tied 1-1)

  • Conor McDavid’s record season leads the second-seed Edmonton Oilers as they face the 2014 champions the LA Kings. One of the biggest game upsets so far, the Oilers led 3-1 in the third period of the first game, but 2 goals by the Kings in the latter half of the period, the last with only 17 seconds remaining, would lead to a Kings comeback in overtime. Edmonton was expected to sweep, but it seems the Kings are exhibiting a stronger fight than anticipated. Edmonton managed a 4-2 victory Wednesday night to tie.