This article contains opinion. All stats current as of April 23.
Looking at the playoff bracket right now, there seems to be chaos.
The No. 1 teams from both conferences were eliminated. This is the first year in playoff history in which both first-ranked teams were knocked out by the final wild card team before the second round. There have been four teams to clinch their spot into the second round, each of which defied the odds and made their cases to stay in this fight.
The Colorado Avalanche rallied right after the first loss in game one to go on to win the next four games, securing a spots for themselves in round two. Due to playing to the bitter end of the 82-game season to earn their playoff spot, Colorado was exhausted while Calgary had plenty of rest.
They were shut out 4-0 in game one, but the Avs weren’t letting that get in their way. It was a series to seven or less. After the win Friday, it was Colorado’s first playoff win in 11 years.
Although, they weren’t the only ones to clinch a round two birth over the weekend.
The St. Louis Blues really found themselves in this first round series. Their new goaltender, Jake Binnington, recorded his first back-to-back losses against the Jets in games three and four.
Throughout each of the six games, the visiting team won each game, except in game six, when the Blues won their fourth game to push into the second round.
St. Louis decided to “use the Schwartz” after Jaden Schwartz tallied his first playoff hat-trick, scoring a goal each period.
Now, the matchup for round two waits for the winner to be crowned between the Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators.
The Stars have fought to win back-to-back games against the Predators. But the two games prior to that, Nashville won back-to-back games.
In each of Dallas’ winning games, it went on to score three goals or more to claim victory. The only times the Stars lost was if they scored fewer than that.
Though there is a stunning display of goaltending on both teams, it’s impressive to see that many goals make it into the net. The Predators’ star players have been quiet over the past fews games. But Monday’s the night. They either push for a game seven or head home to bust out the golf clubs.
The Washington Capitals were down a player going into game five. TJ Oshie was shoved from behind into the boards by Warren Foegele in game four and headed straight to the locker room for examination.
On Easter Sunday, Oshie underwent a surgical procedure on his fractured right clavicle. This is sad news to Caps fans after word spread that he would be out indefinitely.
But that’s not to say they’re out of the count completely. The Caps went on to win 6-0 against the Hurricanes in game five, missing Oshie. But a deeper playoff run would see the effects of this missing player, one of whom helped Washington to win the cup last year.
The Boston Bruins were down in the series 3-2 to Toronto going into game six. Their ability to win this game proved resilient.
They managed to score on both power plays within the first to take an early lead, even though Toronto managed to sneak one past Rask in the first. But after a well-tossed pass from Krejci, it bounced off Debrusk’s stick into the net.
The Bruins added to their lead, 3-1. Auston Matthews answered back after some quick passing by the Leafs in Boston’s zone, tallying his fifth goal in four games. Toronto was down only one, but after an empty netter, the game was pretty much over.
Onto game seven playoff hockey for these two.
Six and a half seconds left into the first period of game six of the San Jose–Vegas series, a sloppy neutral zone play from the Knights defense caused the Sharks to go up a goal in the first, courtesy of Logan Couture. Then, in the second period, after three back-to-back-to-back shots against Martin Jones, Jonathan Marchessault managed to get one into the back of the net.
Those would be the only two goals scored in regular time. Despite getting the shots off and pushing their best, they went into a second overtime. Next, a penalty was called on the Sharks for slashing.
Power plays are intense, even more so in double OT hockey, but the Sharks managed to silence the rowdy Vegas crowd with a pass up the ice to Thomas Hertl. He skated into the zone and took a shot on net to score a shorthanded goal in the second overtime. The Sharks and Knights are going to game seven.
Despite what the records and stats say, there’s no predicting anything with playoff hockey. That’s what makes it so entertaining to watch.
A higher rank doesn’t ensure anything but four games. Beyond that, it’s up to a team’s will, strength and discipline.