Stanley Cup Playoffs

Patrick Geary, Editor

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This year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs have started, probably without most of you noticing. There were many notable performances throughout the first and second round, including the Vegas Golden Knights, in their inaugural season, reaching the Western Conference Finals.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are very similar to the NBA Playoffs, but one of the key differences is the seeding going into the playoffs. In the NBA, the best eight teams in each conference, regardless of division, are seeded. In the NHL, the top three teams from each division make the playoffs, along with two wild cards from each conference. For example, in the NBA, if you were on the best team in the league, you might not play against another team from your division until the conference finals, or maybe not at all. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the best seeds in each division play against a wild card team, and the two and three seeded teams in each division play against each other. This way, you determine which team is the best out of each division, and have those teams play each other in the conference final.

Unlike basketball, the way that the teams are decided for the playoffs is not merely based off of wins and losses in the regular season. In basketball, the score is rarely ever tied, as the amount of points you can score is much higher. In hockey, a tied score at the end of regulation is much more common, and thus overtime is much more common. Overtime in hockey is a five-minute period where each team sends out three skaters and a goalie for an action-packed period. If neither team can score in five minutes, the game goes to a shootout, where it is simply a skater versus a goalie. A team is awarded two points for a win, regardless of whether it came in regulation, overtime, or a shootout. If a team loses in overtime or a shootout, they are awarded one point, and if a team loses in regulation, they are awarded no points. If a team can get 100 points in a season, that season is considered a great success.

This year’s teams were the Nashville Predators, Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Philadelphia Flyers. The Pittsburgh Penguins have won the Stanley Cup each of the past two years and were recently eliminated in round two by the Washington Capitals, who advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years. They will face the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have had an excellent season, recording 113 points and the number one seed in the East. On the other side, the Vegas Golden Knights, in their inaugural season, recorded 109 points and held the number three seed in the West, and the number one seed in the Pacific Division. They will face the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets recorded 114 points this year and held the number two seed in the West and in the Central Division. The Bruins/Maple Leafs series was the most exciting series in the first round, seeing the Boston Bruins winning in seven games. In the second round, the most exciting series was the Capitals/Penguins series, seeing Evgeny Kuznetsov netting a goal in overtime of game six to send the Caps to the Eastern Conference Finals.

If I were to predict the next series, I would predict that the Jets will advance over the Golden Knights in six games, and the Capitals over the Lightning in seven games. This would set the scene for a Capitals-Jets Stanley Cup Final, and I predict that the Capitals will win in six.

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