A wild first round has left eight teams in the hunt, no No. 1 seeds
The Santa Clara
April 25, 2019
It’s not the nicest trophy in the world of sports. It’s old, dented and riddled with spelling mistakes and cross-outs that resemble what happens when I try to do my math homework in pen instead of pencil. While it might not be shiny and new every year, no trophy in all of sports has more character and history than the Stanley Cup.
It has sank to the bottom of a pool, been left on the side of a road and gone to war. People have urinated on it, babies have defecated in it and others have eaten cereal and drank beer out of it—sometimes two of those occurring within the same day. It has been used for baptisms, accidentally been set on fire and even has its own chaperone dubbed the “Keeper of the Cup.”
Yet, no matter what happens to the cup, players will go through just about anything to earn the right to own it for a day—a tradition started in 1995 for NHL’s championship team.
The first round of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs concluded last night, and there was no shortage of upsets.
In the most exciting game seven and debatably the best series of the first round, the San Jose Sharks rallied back from down 3-1 in the series against the Vegas Golden Knights to force Game 7. Down 3-0 with 10:45 left to play in the third period, the Sharks once again came from behind, scoring four goals in four minutes on a five-minute major power play to take the lead. However, Vegas was able to tie the game up with 45 seconds remaining after pulling their goalie for a final attempt.
The game was pushed to overtime, where the Sharks scored after 18 more minutes to advance to the next round, marking one of the most thrilling games of the week. They will face the Colorado Avalanche in the second round.
Looking to the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning were swept in four games by the Columbus Blue Jackets. This was one of the most shocking results of the first round, as the Lightning tied the NHL record for regular season wins, but then failed to win a single postseason game. On the other hand, the Blue Jackets earned their first playoff series win in franchise history.
With their 4-0 series win, Columbus moves on to play the Boston Bruins, who defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 in game seven on Tuesday night. With both teams trading wins before Boston eventually took the last two, it was Boston who struck first in Game 7 when they scored in the first period on Joakim Nordstrom’s shot. It looked like he gave the puck ghost-like characteristics, as it somehow passed through a tiny space between the left post and Toronto’s goalie’s body, giving Boston an early lead they would hold for the rest of the game.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals hosted the Carolina Hurricanes in another game seven matchup on Wednesday night. The Capitals—looking to defend their Stanley Cup championship from last year—jumped out to a two-goal lead and appeared to have things under control.
Until they found themselves in double overtime, tied at 3-3.
Things came crashing down for last year’s champions when the Hurricanes’ Justin Williams assisted Brock McGinn, who scored the series-winning goal and propelled his team past the Caps.
Carolina will meet the New York Islanders in the second round after the latter swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in another four-game series.
Although the first game in New York went to overtime—the Islanders ultimately won by one goal—the rest of the series was not as close, as New York held Pittsburgh to only one goal in each of the next three games.
Switching over to the Western Conference, the Nashville Predators were upset by the Dallas Stars in six games. Heading into the playoffs, Nashville looked promising to go deep, but their atrocious power play execution (0-15 on the series) and Dallas’ impressive defense allowed Dallas to take the series victory in the end.
In the second round, the Stars will play the St. Louis Blues, who defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-2.
The Blues did not dominate throughout the series, and at times it actually seemed like they were holding on for dear life. They were able to pull it out however, thanks in part to their ability to stay out of the penalty box and adapt when things weren’t working in their favor.
In another Western Conference matchup, the Colorado Avalanche beat the Calgary Flames 4-1. Although the Flames were at the top of the conference throughout the regular season and the Avalanche only managed to clinch a wild card spot, barely squeezing into the Stanley Cup field, it was the Avalanche who came to play as they wiped out the Flame fairly easily.
With that, eight teams have been eliminated and eight teams have moved on.
Those that remain are one step closer to hoisting the legendary Stanley Cup trophy—but luckily for us, there’s lots of playoff hockey left until then.
Contact Kyle Lydon at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.