The Stanley Cup Playoffs are arguably the best playoffs in all of sports and they are here and as exciting as ever. It almost seems as though the playoff games are on a different level than the regular season. Some have compared the playoffs to professional boxing on the big stage, while the regular season is amateur boxing on a Friday Night.
So far, the most surprising series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was the series between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning were this year’s Presidents Trophy winner, awarded to the team with the best record at the end of the regular season. Tampa Bay put together one of the best seasons in NHL history with 62 wins. The Columbus Blue Jackets barely made the playoffs, grabbing the final wild card spot.
In game one, Tampa Bay got off to the start we all expected, scoring three goals in the first period. However, Columbus refused to quit, scoring four unanswered goals to win the first game 4-3 in Tampa Bay. In game two, it was Columbus who started fast scoring three unanswered goals. Tampa Bay tried to fight back like the Blue Jackets did in game one but only managed to score one goal. The Blue Jackets took game two 5-1 and headed back to Columbus with a 2-0 series lead.
The energy in Columbus was absolutely electric. Fans filled Nationwide arena to witness the Blue Jackets beat up on the Lightning. Columbus’ goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was stellar in net, making 30
saves in game three to allow the Blue Jackets to win 3-1 and take a 3-0 series lead. Game four was madness as the Lightning fought to keep their season alive. How- ever, the Blue Jackets were determined to make history as one of the best upsets in NHL history. Columbus closed out the series with a 7-3 lead, stunning the hockey world by sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay only led two whole periods the whole series, occurring in the first two periods of game one. Otherwise, it was all Columbus.
If anyone has watched hockey in the last decade, they know that the Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins have been a force to be reckoned with, winning three Stanley Cups since 2009, two of which were back-to-back in 2016 and 2017. The Penguins entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs facing the New York Islanders in New York. The Penguins outshot the Islanders in game one 44-33. However, it was the Islanders who took game one in overtime 4-3. Robin Lehner of the New York Islanders, was stellar in goal in games two, three and four, giving up only one goal in each game. The Islanders took game two in New York 3-1, giving them a 2-0 series lead heading into Pennsylvania. New York won game three 4-1 giving the Islanders a chance to sweep the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Game four was back and forth. However, the Islanders achieved their goal, winning game four 3-1, sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins and sending them to the golf course earlier than they hoped.
The two sweeps of the first round prove that a team must come prepared to play hard every game if they want a chance to win the greatest trophy in all of sports: The Stanley Cup. Regular season records, seeding and previous achievements mean nothing if a team does not find themselves hoisting the cup in May.
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