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2017-2018 NHL Playoffs

The Quest for the Cup Continues

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The Capitals looking to score on goalie Mike Murray in the third period of of game six.

The Capitals looking to score on goalie Mike Murray in the third period of of game six.

The Capitals looking to score on goalie Mike Murray in the third period of of game six.

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The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs have started and tensions are rising as teams are now possibly just 10 wins away from the Stanley Cup. With big stories like the first year expansion team Vegas Golden Knights making it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, and the idea that this could be the Capitals year, we are sure in for a treat in the postseason. Then there’s the Nashville Predators, the Winnipeg Jets, the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning who had to beat admirable teams to get it this far.

In the Eastern Conference, the Lightning beat the New Jersey Devils in five games and The Bruins just edged out The Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games. In the Metropolitan Division the Capitals defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games, with four of those games going into overtime and one of them in double overtime. The Philadelphia Flyers fell to the two time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

In the Western Conference First Round, the Predators defeated the Wild Card Colorado Avalanche and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Minnesota Wild in five games in the Central Division. In the Pacific Division, the Vegas Golden Knights swept the Los Angeles Kings in four games and the San Jose Sharks also swept the Anaheim Ducks in four games.

The Predators and Jets facing off during game 7.

The Tampa Bay Lightning played the Boston Bruins in the second round. The Bruins beat the Lightning in game one by a final score of six to two. After that game, the Lightning got a spark of energy and came back to win the next four to close out the series.

The almost annual meeting between the Capitals and Penguins has finally come to a close in six games with the Caps taking the series. This was a back and forth series between these two teams. The Penguins won the first game, but the Capitals came back to win the next two. The Penguins weren’t going down without a fight, though. After the Penguins won game four, the Caps did end up shutting them down after winning game five. Game six was a nail bitter in overtime. It seemed like neither of these two teams would score in the first overtime, but the Penguins ended up mishandling the puck in the Capitals zone and Alex Ovechkien got a piece of it and was able to kick it up to Evgney Kuznetsov, enabling him to walk it in past goalie Mike Murray for the series win.

The Capitals and Penguins shaking hands at the end of game six.

The second round of the playoffs is now coming to a close with the Capitals defeating the odds and beating Pittsburgh in game 6 on Monday night. So the Eastern Conference Finals are set the Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the Washington Capitals. The Western Conference finals are now ready to be played with the Jets defeating the Predators in Game 7 from a series that seemed as if it would never end. The Jets will now play Vegas in the Western Conference Finals.

No doubt the biggest story of the postseason is the Vegas Golden Knights. This is a first year expansion team that was projected to finish dead last. They were expected to not make the playoffs for almost three years and they are now in the Western Conference Finals. Some people are saying that the only reason this is happening is because the NHL forced teams give up too many players and draft picks to them before the season started. Lafayette Senior Matt Rice says “I don’t think that the NHL made each team give up too many players, if you look at their lineup they really only have one big name in Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. I just feel that they played good fundamental hockey.”  They are the third team toever to reach a semifinal playoff round in their inaugural season, joining the 1967-68 Minnesota North Stars and the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues.

With the Eastern Conference Finals set with the Tampa Bay Lightning playing the Washington Capitals for a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Finals, these two teams will surely play with grit. The Eastern Conference Finals are now under way with the Capitals taking a quick 2-0 series lead against the Lightning in Tampa Bay some wonder if the Caps could possibly sweep the series at home. In the Western Conference Finals, the Winnipeg Jets won game one but the Golden Knights bounced back for a game two victory with the series heading back to Vegas.

Each team’s chances at the Cup getting higher and higher, and everyone is anxious. Could this be the Caps’ year? Can Vegas stay strong and win it all? Can the Jets send the Golden Knights packing? We will just have to keep watching.

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2017-2018 NHL Playoffs