Road to the cup: Raising Lord Stanley

Jared Miller, Sports Editor

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National hockey league playoffs, one of the greatest times of the year, with the late nights, high heart rates, and the anticipation awaiting who will be crowned champions, the excitement has been through the roof as the final weeks of the season are waning down.
The NHL playoffs this season has been one of the craziest in the sports history. Records have been engraved in the books, hearts have been broken, and all together chaos has ensued.
The first round was where the most action had occurred, there were upsets left and right, and the results were so unexpected, it left all hockey fans scratching their heads. No team was safe, and the greatest thing about playoff hockey is anyone can win.
The Tampa Bay Lightning learned that the hard way as they entered the playoffs tying the record for most regular seasons win in a year, even after putting up 62 wins in 82 games the Lightning were unable to notch a win against the eighth seed Columbus Blue Jackets as the early favorites to win the Stanley Cup were knocked out early losing the series 4-0. The next series consisted of the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs, a division rivalry in which the Bruins hold the advantage seemed to keep the trend going as the higher seeded Bruins were able to defeat the Leafs in a winner take all game seven. Next up was the reigning Stanley Cup champions the Washington Capitals facing a very surprising Carolina Hurricanes team. In a series that most thought would be an easy victory for the Capitals, the odds were defied once again as the Hurricanes battled hard all series and managed to take down the Capitals in a double overtime game seven shocking the league with another upset. The final first round series in the Eastern Conference was a matchup between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although the Islanders were the higher seed in the standings, they were considered the underdogs as they were stuck facing a very good Pittsburgh team that had won back to back Stanley Cups in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. However, this year the Penguins looked lifeless in the series as they were swiftly defeated 4-0 by the Islanders.
The Western Conference also saw some pandemonium in the first round. It started when number one seed in the west Calgary Flames were taken down by the eighth seed Colorado Avalanche in a five game series. That was followed by a seven game series between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights saw a controversial penalty call in game seven that led to a victory for the Sharks and suspensions to the referees who were part of that game.
The next series was between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars in which the lower seed prevailed again as the Stars defeated the Predators in six games. The final series of the first round was a battle between the Winnipeg Jets and the St.Louis Blues. The Winnipeg Jets had a very disappointing performance leading to another upset in which the Blues finished the series in six games.
A few things happened in the first round that will be remembered in the history books. One being the Tampa Bay Lightning being the first team in NHL history to win the Presidents Trophy for most points in a season and not be swept in the first round. The other being all of the division winners which include the Lightning, Capitals, Flames, and Predators were all eliminated in the first round for the first time in history.
The first round was very exciting, but it didn’t end their, because the second round was nothing short of disappointing either. The Columbus Blue Jackets came off a first round upset to meet up the Boston Bruins in the second round. In a very uneventful series, the top line of the Bruins was unable to be matched by the Columbus team, and the Bruins defeated the Blue Jackets in six games. The other series in the east consisted of the New York Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes. Both teams were not expected to be in this situation, but the Carolina defense and offense showed up while the Islanders were left in the dust as they were defeated 4-0 by the Hurricanes.
The Western Conference once again saw some controversy once again including the San Jose Sharks. In a game seven matchup against the Colorado Avalanche, the Avs scored a tying goal that was overturned due to a very questionable offsides call. Instead of tying the game, the Sharks took a two goal lead minutes later and the Avalanche were unable to recover and the Sharks moved on to the third round as a result. The second series in the west was a matchup between the St. Louis Blues and the Dallas Stars. This was another series that people weren’t really expecting but it was an exciting one nonetheless. In a seven game series, it took until double overtime for the winner to be decided, with the St. Louis Blues coming out on top and notching in a spot in the Western Conference final.
The third round in the east could be considered the Boston Massacre 2.0 as the Bruins slaughtered the Hurricanes in 4-0 games, making this a quick series and led the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2013.
The western final matchup saw some more controversy in game three, where the San Jose Sharks won the game after a hand pass resulted in the game winning overtime. Although that resulted in the refs of that game being suspended for the rest of the playoffs, the Blues were able to fight back into the series and win it in six games. This is the first time the Blues had made the finals since 1970.
The Stanley Cup Finals is a rematch of the 1970 finals in which the Bruins defeated the Blues in four games. The Bruins have been dominant all season long and look to continue that and win their first Stanley Cup for the first time since 2011. The Blues are seeking their first Stanley Cup and after being in last place on January 3rd look to complete one of the greatest comeback stories in sports history. Anything can happen as the final days of the 2018-19 NHL season are coming to an end.

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