For those who don’t know, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are the elimination tournament in the NHL. At the end of it all, the winning team hoists the Cup and goes on a summer long bender and have to be told to stop doing Cup Stands because they’re damaging the Cup. For more information about the Cup and the history and all the details, the Wikipedia entry is probably too informative, so here you go!
To give you a bare bones rundown, if you don’t already know, the playoffs start with 16 teams in 8 match-ups. They play a best of 7, the first team to win 4 games advancing onto the next round. At the start of the playoffs, this who was up against who.
This looks reasonable.
As of writing, we are now into round two and there were a lot of upsets in round one that left a lot of people scratching their heads and wanting to make new playoff brackets.
The Columbus Blue Jackets swept the best team in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in 4 games. THE BEST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE. Pundits and casual fans alike had the Lightning hoisting the Cup by the time that this was all said and done, and instead they were eliminated by a team who barely squeaked into the playoffs. And not in evenly matched games, but in a series of pretty decisive wins. The Blue Jackets have made history, advancing beyond the first round in the playoffs for the first time since their inception!
Removed from contention that same night were the Pittsburgh Penguins by the New York Islanders, who a lot of people love but a lot of people also hate. While it wasn’t quite the upset that the Columbus/Tampa Bay series was as both teams had done very well in the regular season, I don’t think anyone expected the Pens to also get swept. But here we are! Which means that we don’t have to hear about Sidney Crosby so much (which is good or bad, depending on who you ask).
The current Stanley Cup Champions, the Washington Capitals, were eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes. I know a lot of Caps fans, so I’ve got some pretty devastated people on my Twitter timeline, but their removal from the playoffs wasn’t entirely shocking. They have had a tendency to just not show up for the playoffs in the past, and that seems to be what happened here. I’ll admit that I was pulling for the `Canes in this series, as I love their post home game win celebrations, called Storm Surges, and they also have a Staal brother, a family that has spawned some pretty great hockey sons.
Pictured: Alex Ovechkin and not a Staal brother, but Justin Williams.
Also upset were the Calgary Flames by the Colorado Avalanche. Like the Blue Jackets, the Avalanche were a wild card entry into the playoffs and faced off against the best team in their conference. The Flames won their first game at home, but after that it was all Avalanche, all the time. And I’m pretty happy about this one, because the Avs are my team and want to see them advance. They haven’t advanced beyond the first round since 2008! So already this is quite historic. Now if they can just get past round two …
Also advancing to round two were the Dallas Stars, the Boston Bruins, the San Jose Sharks, and the St. Louis Blues. Meanwhile, everyone in Canada has to listen people whine about how there’s “no Canadian team” in the playoffs, which is always exhausting because at least 72% of any hockey team is made up of Canadians. That’s a totally accurate statistic by the way.
As of right now, the playoffs look like this:
Sure. Why not?
Round two has already kicked off, which means fans whose teams were eliminated are either complete done caring, swearing alliances to different teams, or sitting back to just watch it all burn. Having your team eliminated is almost a blessing in a small way … you’re no longer stressed all of the time, but can sit back and just enjoy some good hockey.
But I haven’t had my team advance beyond the first round in almost a decade. So now my anxiety is even more crippling than usual. I don’t know why I’m excited for that but here we are.
I’m also a little excited. For a long time it seemed like the Stanley Cup was getting handed back and forth between the same handful of teams. And while it’s always great to see your team win, it can start feel stale to casual fans and those who don’t hitch their bandwagon to whatever team Sidney Crosby is on (the Penguins – it’s always been the Penguins).
But of the teams remaining, three have never won the Cup (St. Louis, San Jose, and Columbus), three have hoisted it in the past twenty years (Colorado, Boston, and Carolina), and two haven’t had the honour in twenty plus years (Dallas and New York). So regardless of who ends up taking it all, it’s going to be a team who hasn’t in a while!
There have been a lot of upsets, and there will likely be more. Playoff brackets for the NHL’s official Bracket Challenge were undoubtedly so messed up that after the first round they’re allowing people who have already submitted brackets to have a second chance to create another. This is unheard of! I mean, I know that my bracket is always a disaster, but I’m bad at them anyway because I don’t pay attention to stats and just want my faves to win. The Avalanche’s Nikita Zadorov put it best …
Hosed, Nikita. Completely hosed. Thank you for asking.