First round takeaways
We have moved on to Round Two in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and eight teams are one step closer to the sport’s most illustrious prize, the Stanley Cup. Here are a couple headlines that fully capture just how crazy the beginning to this year’s postseason was:
5 Game 7’s:
When everything is on the line, no matter the sport, fans are treated to a masterpiece. Probably the craziest statistic out of the entire first round of NHL Playoffs was the absurd number of winner-take-all games. There were five game-sevens over the weekend keeping hockey fans on the edge of their seats throughout both the day and the night. Since 1987, the only time the NHL has seen more game-sevens in one round came in 1992. This shows just how close the race for the Stanley Cup will be this year.
Tough to Kill the King:
In case anyone thought Tampa was done (you shouldn’t have), they silenced their haters as to why they are defending back-to-back championships. They knocked out the first 60 goal scorer since 2011-12 and 21st of all time, Auston Matthews and the red-hot Toronto offense. As I previously predicted earlier in the year, the first-round exit streak continues for the Maple Leafs (I told you so). Despite Braden Point acquiring an injury later in the series, Tampa Bay used lights-out goaltending from Andre Vasilevskiy and offense from Nikita Kucherov to force a game-seven after going down 3-2 in the series. A 2-1 win in Toronto catapults the Lightning to the next challenge, a battle with their in-state rival, the Florida Panthers.
No Quit in New York
If playoff inexperience was your worry about the Rangers, you can take it off the list. The average age of the New York Rangers is 25.8 years old, ranking them as the fourth youngest in the entire NHL. Despite their youth, the Rangers were able to come back from 3-1 down in the series to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team full of experience. Not to mention, in games five and six, the Rangers eliminated two goal deficits. In game seven, they found themselves in a similar situation coming back from one goal down late. The comeback was completed in overtime by Artemi Panarin when he fired a shot on the powerplay past Tristan Jarry in his first game back from injury. The Penguins faced injuries all series after they lost goaltender Casey DeSmith in the second overtime of game one and forward Ricard Rakell earlier in that game as well. In addition, Captain Sidney Crosby was out for game six after sustaining a minor concussion in game five. All three returned for game seven.
McDavid Being McDavid
Connor McDavid proved throughout the entire first round just how much he wants to win in Edmonton. With 14 points in just seven games and the series-sealing goal, McDavid brought the Oilers back from a 3-2 series deficit to the Kings. The speed and skill McDavid brings to every game not only makes everyone on the ice focus on him, but everyone in the stands and behind their TV as well. The countless flashy assists an jaw-dropping goals make McDavid one of the most skilled players to ever touch the ice.