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Stanley Cup Playoffs round 1: what we learned

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Matt Shea

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Stanley Cup Playoffs round 1: what we learned

The Capitals celebrate a home goal. After winning the Stanley Cup last year, the remaining teams will try achieve what Ovechkin and the Caps could not repeat.

The Capitals celebrate a home goal. After winning the Stanley Cup last year, the remaining teams will try achieve what Ovechkin and the Caps could not repeat.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

The Capitals celebrate a home goal. After winning the Stanley Cup last year, the remaining teams will try achieve what Ovechkin and the Caps could not repeat.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

The Capitals celebrate a home goal. After winning the Stanley Cup last year, the remaining teams will try achieve what Ovechkin and the Caps could not repeat.

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This year’s first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs had everything you could ever want. We saw all four wild card teams move on, not to mention that three of the series were settled in seven games. There were upsets, excitement and disappointment for many teams in this first round, and the playoffs will only get more intense. After a wild round one, here’s what we learned.

Lightning always seem to run out of thunder come playoff time

After one of the most remarkable regular seasons in NHL history, the Tampa Bay Lightning entered the playoffs with 128 points and a goal difference of +103. These numbers were sure to spur the Bolts for a deep run this year. Entering as the big cup favorites, a loss to Columbus seemed unfathomable. In fact, the Blue Jackets, having never won a playoff series, were a write-off for most people. After recent seasons of playoff disappointment, there was, unfortunately for Lightning fans and shocking to NHL fans, more of the same. In a series that not even the most seasoned sports betters could have predicted, the Blue Jackets played with more effort, physicality and mental toughness as they swept the Lightning in four games. Despite having the best regular season in franchise history, the Lightning proved once again that they are a regular season team that fails to carry that same magic into the playoffs.

Penguins worse than we thought, Islanders better than expected

In another shocking twist, a series that was supposed to be a scrappy battle between division foes gave us instead a clean sweep. The Penguins were helpless and surprisingly unproductive in their four game playoff tenure. In each of the last three games of the series, the Penguins scored a total of three goals, one in each game. On the other hand, a reinvented Islanders team under former Capitals head coach Barry Trotz were unstoppable with performances that exceeded expectations. The Penguins weren’t a clear winner by any means; however, a sweep was likely the least expected outcome. In a decent year for the Penguins, many were expecting them to once again be a dark horse in the playoffs as they usually put up a strong contest for the Cup. That however was not the case for Sidney Crobsy and his squad, as the Islanders proved that they were a much better team than anticipated. Watch out for the Islanders as they are certainly capable of a big run.

Eliminating the Sharks might just be a seven game triumph

In the most exciting comeback of the playoffs, the San Jose Sharks not only erased a 3-1 series deficit, but a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 as they went on to win in overtime and advance over the Las Vegas Golden Knights. What seemed improbable was achieved by a Sharks team that didn’t have much going for them as they lost three straight games in the early makings of the series. Vegas, a second year team and reigning Western Conference champs were a hot pick this year because of their success last year. Up 3-1 that pick was looking good, until the Sharks turned things around offensively and outscored the Knights 12-7 in the final three games of the series. The Sharks had only scored 8 goals combined in the first four games. This shift in offensive momentum propelled the Sharks to the second round and their perseverance shows that they have the grit to push teams to the limit.

There will be a new Stanley Cup champion this year

Despite the countless “back-to-back” chants, famously started by T.J Oshie, the Caps will not be repeating as Stanley Cup champs, as the Hurricanes found a way to deliver in overtime. From the start it looked like Washington had the upper hand as they flew out to a 2-0 series lead with convincing wins at home. But the Caps were unable to win the road playoff games, keeping a sneaky Carolina team within striking distance. Despite Oshie getting injured in Game 4, the Caps had many chances for players to step up such as Ovechkin or Kuznetsov but the dominant performances that saw last year’s team win the cup were nowhere to be found.

With the first round of the playoffs making the NHL regular season seem pointless, we are in for new matchups and a new champion. Not only are the Caps out, but Vegas, the runner-up, and the two other semi-final teams from last year’s playoffs have all been eliminated as well. While the next Stanley Cup champion is in question, there is no doubt that we are in for a wild ride the rest of the way.

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About the Writer
Matt Shea, Opinion Editor

Junior Matthew Shea is an opinion editor in his first year writing for The Pitch. He enjoys following sports, hanging with friends and is excited to be...

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Stanley Cup Playoffs round 1: what we learned