Stanley Cup Playoffs Update

John Fiorino, Managing Editor

As of April 23, the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs are still not done.

No one could have predicted what happened up to this point, though. Below is a summary of all of the playoff series so far and what we think will happen next.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

The Lightning had a historic season by tying the NHL all-time wins record with 62. The Blue Jackets, on the other hand, went all-in at the trade deadline and it didn’t look like it was working out. In late March and early April, it finally started to come together.

In arguably the most shocking upset of all time, Columbus swept Tampa Bay in commanding fashion. The Blue Jackets came-from-behind to win game 1 and the Lightning could never recover. After taking game 2 in Tampa Bay, the Blue Jackets didn’t make a mistake in Columbus for games 3 and 4. Trade deadline acquisition, Matt Duchene, was a big factor for Columbus in this upset.

Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

This is one of those series that is still going on and will conclude on the night of printing. This has been a back and forth series and there is no clear, dominant team in this one. Toronto star, Auston Matthews, has been great in this series tallying five goals and six points in six games.

On Boston’s side, Brad Marchand is continuing his amazing year. After reaching 100 points in the regular season, Marchand has nine points in six games. Going into game 7, look for the top lines to be major factors. The depth cancels each other out, but the top lines have been big for both teams. Despite the game being in Boston, we predict the Maple Leafs will beat the Bruins by a score of 4-2.

Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

This is another series that has yet to be decided. In this set, the home team has won every game. There was a major point in this series when Capitals forward T.J. Oshie broke his collarbone due to a check from Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele. Foegele is a second-round pick that has four goals, six points in six games. On game 5 in Washington D.C., the Caps sent a message by beating the Canes 6-0. In game 6, the Hurricanes showed the Capitals they weren’t going to go quietly. The “bunch of jerks” as deemed by Don Cherry, beat Washington by a score of 5-2. Game 7 is on Wednesday night. We predict the Capitals will prevail in a game 7 overtime against the Hurricanes.

New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

The result of this series was overshadowed by the Tampa Bay Lightning being swept. The Islanders stymied the Penguins offense and swept Pittsburgh on the back of solid defense and goaltending. Islanders goaltender, Robin Lehner, had an amazing series posting a .956 save percentage. Isles forward, Jordan Eberle, had a huge series by scoring four goals, six points in four games. Calder Trophy-winning forward Mat Barzal had five assists in the four games. Penguins star forward, Sidney Crosby, was held to one assist in the series. Other star forwards like Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel were held to three points or fewer.

Calgary Flames vs. Colorado Avalanche

The Calgary Flames came into the playoffs as the top seed in the west and one of the biggest surprises of the year. They were set up to play the Colorado Avalanche, a wildcard team who got into the playoffs on the last couple days of the year. The Flames took game 1 with little difficulty, but afterwards the Avalanche changed their approach. After dropping game 1, Colorado won four straight games to knock off Calgary in the west. Avalanche goaltender, Philipp Grubauer, had a .939 save percentage to help lift Colorado over Calgary. The Avalanche are set to play the winner of the Vegas vs. San Jose series.

San Jose Sharks vs. Vegas Golden Knights

The Sharks and Golden Knights are still playing with game 7 set for the night of printing. Vegas was trailing in game 6 and after tying the game, was unable to close it out in double overtime. It was a big loss for the Golden Knights and game 7 is in San Jose. The Sharks played well and when the Golden Knights tied it, San Jose didn’t let Vegas take control of the game. This series has been back and forth as well. At times, offense was the key factor to the game, and at other times, goaltending was the main difference. With game 7 in San Jose, we predict the top line of the Golden Knights will prevail and beat out the Sharks to meet Colorado in the second round.

Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues

This was a series that could’ve gone either way. The Jets are arguably the better team on paper, but the Blues were one of the best teams since the beginning of 2019. In particular, St. Louis goaltender, Jordan Binnington, had a tremendous season and translated it into a first-round win.

The Blues won the first two games of the series in Winnipeg, and the Jets won the next two games in St. Louis. The Blues then went to Winnipeg and won game 5 as well by a score of 3-2. Then, with the deciding game in St. Louis, Blues forward Jaden Schwartz had a natural hat trick to lift St. Louis over Winnipeg. The Jets scored two goals but the comeback was cut short and St. Louis moved on. The lack of wins on home-ice was the achilles heel for Winnipeg.

Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars

This was a series where there was an easy winner on paper, but the on-ice product was completely different. Up and down the lineup, it looks like Nashville could take Dallas in six games or less. However, goaltender Ben Bishop and the Stars took out the Predators in six games.

Game 6 was unlike what we saw throughout the series. In the first five games, it was defensive and physical, while game 6 was open with lots of scoring opportunities. It was 1-1 going into overtime with chances for both teams. Bishop and Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne both played incredible. Rinne was the only reason this game went to overtime as Nashville’s defense collapsed in the third period. Stars top-line defenseman, John Klingberg, ended the game in overtime on a wrist shot that went over Rinne’s shoulder. The Stars will move on to play the St. Louis Blues.