2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
It is officially May, and this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs have been going on for almost three weeks now with fast, action-packed games every single night. The second round began last Monday after an exciting first round that had no shortage of exciting and nail-biting moments, as well as a few surprises. For instance, no one could have foreseen the team with the best record in the Western Conference, the Chicago Blackhawks, getting swept out in round one to the Nashville Predators, the second wildcard team in the West and also the team with the worst record in the entire playoffs. The Predators, having advanced to the second round, are now three games deep into their series with the (3) St. Louis Blues, who advanced after defeating the (2) Minnesota Wild in six games. Also in the West, the (2) Edmonton Oilers are facing the (1) Anaheim Ducks. The Anaheim Ducks waltzed on in to the second round after an all-too-easy sweep of the (WC1) Calgary Flames, but the Oilers had a tougher time closing out their series against the (3) San Jose Sharks in six games.
Over in the East, the second round consists of the (WC1) New York Rangers facing the (2) Ottawa Senators and the (1) Washington Capitals against the defending Stanley Cup champions (2) Pittsburgh Penguins. Ottawa escaped the battered but determined (3) Boston Bruins in six games in round one, and New York had to solve star goaltender Carey Price and the (1) Montreal Canadiens to advance. Washington won the Presidents’ trophy for the second year in a row with the best record in the league, but they are hoping not to have their chance for the trophy dashed yet again by Pittsburgh in the second round just like last year. Washington beat the (WC2) Toronto Maple Leafs in six games, and Pittsburgh finished an easy series against the (3) Columbus Blue Jackets in five.
Now that the second round has begun, it is getting easier to see who the favorites are for the Stanley Cup this year. As I’ve been saying for a couple weeks now (I even posted it on social media for proof), it looks like it might be time for a Canadian team to finally win the Cup again. A Canadian hockey has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993, a twenty-four year drought. With unexpectedly solid seasons and playoff runs coming from Ottawa and Edmonton (so far), Canada has a real shot at redemption this year. It won’t be easy though as teams like Pittsburgh and Nashville are finding their groove more and more with every game, each team only having lost one game in the playoffs so far. However no professional sports league seems to be as unpredictable as the NHL, and anything can happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Out of the eight teams remaining, it’s tough to dismiss any team at this point as they all had very impressive first rounds. Just remember that when, not if, one of the two remaining Canadian teams win the Cup, you heard it here first on your very own Apex High School newspaper.