NHL Playoffs

Mark Elliott, Managing Editor

As the NHL regular season wrapped up, the stage for the playoffs is set. 16 teams, 1 winner, the other 15 go home empty handed. The race for the Stanley Cup is on. Each series is a best of seven, so the team that wins 12 games gets to hoist the trophy and be the best hockey team in the nation. This season there have been some breakout teams with breakout players, and there are always the powerhouses that are in the run for the Stanley Cup every year.

The one seeds this year consist of the Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Avalanche have been dominating the NHL all year, but were second place in their division for most of the year. Towards the end of the season they went on a great run and were able to barely get the one seed, as they had the tiebreaker with the Golden Knights. The Penguins are a great team year in and year out, this year their offense has shined putting up many goals this year, they are a serious contender to win it all this year. The Carolina Hurricanes have broken out this year proving they can be a dominant force. With tremendous defense, they can make a deep playoff run this year. The last one seed, debatably the most dominant team this year, the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have been good in every aspect of the game and are one of the favorites to go all the way this year. 

For the two seeds, we have a lot of teams that are usually a top seed in the playoffs. The Washington Capitals, Las Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers, and the Florida Panthers. The Capitals are always a good team, led by Alex Ovechkin, one of the best players in hockey. He and the Capitals got off to a hot start and can make a great playoff run this season. For the Oilers, they have who most say is the best player in hockey, Connor McDavid. He has been dominant all season and is a huge reason why the Oilers are in the spot they are right now. The Golden Knights were in first place practically all year with great offensive and goalie play. They cooled off toward the end of the season and it cost them the one seed in the West Division. The last two seed, the Florida Panthers have had a great season, a solid scoring team that looks to end their winning drought in the playoffs as the last time they won a postseason series was 1996. 

Surprisingly, the three seeds this season are really solid wild card teams that could all make a deep run. The Minnesota Wild, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lighting, and the Winnipeg Jets. The Wild have had a great season with most likely rookie of the year Kirill Kaprizov. They have been a great defensive team all season with Cam Talbot making great saves this year. The Wild can surprise people this year. The Boston Bruins have been very good in recent years, this year they have not been in total dominant form. Still had a great season but had a lot of injuries. The Winnipeg Jets have been a fast pace and streaky team all year. They have a good young core and are also a team that could surprise people this year. 

Rounding it out is the four seeds; Nashville Predators. New York Islanders, Saint Louis Blues, and Montreal Canadiens. These teams have good potential but haven’t fully lived up to it this season. The Predators are in a very tough division but had a pretty good season with a great defense. The Islanders have been a very up and down team, with lots of win and loss streaks, regardless, they made it to the big stage and are looking to upset this playoffs. The Blues were the last team to win the Stanley Cup, but this year they have had very poor defense along with injuries to deal with.

My Stanley Cup Finals prediction is the Minnesota Wild vs. the Washington Capitals. These are two championship caliber teams, and this would also be a great series to watch. I would have the Minnesota Wild winning in 7 games and taking home their first ever Stanley Cup. This has been a wild season, who knows what’s in store for this Stanley Cup Finals