Posts tagged Stanley Cup Playoffs
Alex Ovechkin finally brings home Lord Stanley's Cup

After 43 years, the Washington Captials are finally Stanley Cup champions, defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in 5 games to capture their first Stanley Cup.

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Caps were led by their big 3 forwards in Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom, the top three point scorers in the playoffs this year. Kuznetsov led the playoffs in points with 32 and Ovechkin led all players with 15 goals. Goaltender Braden Holtby allowed just 8 goals in the last four games after letting in 6 goals in game 1. He took off after being benched for the first two games of the playoffs and carried his solid form throughout the playoffs.

It wasn’t just the high-end players who performed for the Capitals. Role players like Devante Smith-Pelly and Lars Eller may have been further down the depth chart but they each had strong playoff performances with 7 goals each, including the game-tying goal in game 5 by Smith-Pelly and the game winning goal by Eller.

The Golden Knights are one of the greatest stories in the history of the NHL and one of the best in sports history. This loss will not detract from their historic season in any way and fans everywhere should applaud this group of players for making it so far.

Reilly Smith was the Knights’ top scorer with 6 points this round while Tomas Nosek pitched in with 3 goals in the series. Two big disappointments for the team were top line forwards William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault, who combined for just 1 goal and 5 points in the series. The biggest disappointment, however, came from goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. When you look at the entire playoffs, you will see how truly dominant Fleury was for Vegas, but the Final was a different story though as his save percentage was below .900 for every single game against Washington. He came crashing down to Earth hard, making it virtually impossible for Vegas to combat the hot form the Capitals were in.

 (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals have dealt with a lot of heartbreak the past dozen years. When you have a generational superstar like Alexander Ovechkin leading your team, the sky is the limit. Unfortunately, as all sports fans know, the playoffs are unpredictable and sometimes luck just isn’t on your side. The Capitals didn't need any luck this year; they just worked harder than everyone else and their elite skill made them almost unstoppable.

That concludes another NHL season filled with drama, skill and some major history. It will be hard to beat this year, but when it comes to sports, anything is possible. Just ask Vegas. And Conn Smythe winner Alexander Ovechkin.

What 2 Watch: Thursday May 10th

We don't have any basketball until Sunday. What the fuck am I gonna do with my life for the next three days?

While I try and maneuver my way through this thing called 'Life without the NBA', there's some pretty high stakes games on tonight, including a Game 7 in the NHL, a possible sweep in the Bronx, and Tiger and Phil teeing off at TPC. Enjoy your Thursday!

Boston Red Sox v. New York Yankees
7pm EST, MLB Network, MLB.TV, MLB At Bat app

The Evil Empire is back on top. The Yankees have won 17 of 18 and go for the sweep of the Red Sox tonight in the Bronx. It's been late hits from Aaron Judge in game one and Brett Gardner last night that have given the Yanks the edge. Now CC Sabathia goes for win #240 and a series sweep of their rivals.

(John Woods/The Canadian Press)

(John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Winnipeg Jets v. Nashville Predators, Western Conference Semifinal Game 7
8pm EST, NBCSN, NBC Sports App

Thanks to an unusual playoff alignment in the NHL, the two best teams in the Western Conference are playing in the semis. The Jets are trying to make their first Western Conference Final since Winnipeg got their hockey team back a few years ago. The Preds have unfinished business after losing in the Stanley Cup Final last summer, and a Game 7 L at home would crush a lot of spirits in Smashville. Look out for Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien, Nashville's PK Subban and Filip Forsberg in this one.

Minnesota Twins v. Los Angeles Angels
10pm EST, FS1, Fox Sports GO, MLB.TV, MLB At Bat app

The Twins take a five-game winning streak into Anaheim to face the Orange County Angels. Jose Berrios (3-3, 3.98 ERA) meets Mike Trout for the very first time as Minnesota looks to break even with the Indians in the AL Central. Garrett Richards (4-1, 3.93 ERA) is red hot coming off of his best outing of the season against Seattle last week.

San Francisco Giants v. Philadelphia Phillies
1pm EST, Facebook

The Phillies go for the four-game sweep in this matinee affair. It would be their fourth of the season, their third at home where they're 14-5. Two teams over .500 and you can watch them while you dodge your family's desperate attempts to get your attention. Fun fun fun!

The Players Championship
1:52pm EST, Golf Channel, ESPN+

TPC at Sawgrass is the biggest non-major of the PGA Tour season, and while golf usually isn't appointment TV for me, it is when Tiger Woods is playing. You factor in he's teeing off with Phil Mickelson? Some mid-afternoon golf just turned into really good background noise for ya boy.

West Ham United v. Manchester United
2:45pm, NBCSN, NBC Sports App

Man U heads to East London in need of a point to secure the second spot in the Premier League table. There awaits former gaffer David Moyes, who got sacked 10 months into his stay at Old Trafford in 2014. Current Man U manager Jose Mourinho has a lot to figure out about his lineup before the summer transfer window opens.

Stanley Cup Playoff round two preview

The first round of the NHL Playoffs is complete. To be honest, this wasn’t the best first round I have seen. Some powerhouses rolled through without much trouble but there were still some surprises, including a game 7. The second round has even more intriguing matchups.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins

Season Series: 3-1 Boston

(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) 

(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) 

The Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the Boston Bruins in the 2nd round. The Lightning rolled through the Devils while the Bruins struggled against the Leafs but still won the series.

The Lightning took care of the New Jersey Devils in 5 games. Despite a strong effort by the Devils led by Taylor Hall putting the team on his back, they were just unable to win enough against this loaded Tampa Bay team. A balanced attack from their group led by star Nikita Kucherov has propelled them to the next round.

The Boston Bruins took the Toronto Maple Leafs to 7 games and came home victorious. Both teams were victimized by poor goaltending but explosive offenses as evidenced by the 6-4 scoreline in game 7. David Pastrnak stood out as he is now tied for the league lead in playoff points with 13. Mitch Marner led the Leafs with 8 points but their star forward Auston Matthews had just 2 points in 7 games and their team just fell apart in game 7 after taking the lead twice.

The Bruins have arguably the best line in hockey and will definitely need them and the rest of the team to show up and compete with the Lightning juggernaut. Tampa Bay has multiple dangerous forward lines with stars Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Added to thatare strong defensemen like Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh and a great goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Bruins are no slouch however and you can never count them out based on their history in the playoffs as their depth always shines through when it matters most. That being said, the total firepower and depth of talent with Tampa Bay will likely lead them to the conference finals.

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Season Series: 2-2

Another year, another playoff series between Washington and Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby is 38-26 all time against fellow superstar Alex Ovechkin and they both will look to carry the momentum from their first-round victories.

The Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers in a weird series. The lowest margin of victory in the first 4 games was 4 goals. The Flyers looked lifeless but stole game 5 on the road before falling in game 6 to a late collapse. Until Philly establishes a long-term solution to goaltending, their talented team will continue to fail. The Penguins scored 28 goals in 6 games. Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel are tied for the lead in playoff points with 13 in this round.

The Capitals almost blew it this round against the Columbus Blue Jackets but won 4 straight to win the series. It took a solid, all around effort from Artemi Panarin, Seth Jones, and of course Sergei Bobrovsky for the Blue Jackets to win the first two games of the series in Washington. However, that slipped away as the Capitals, led by Alex Ovechkin, took over the series and won it largely due to their deadly powerplay. Braden Holtby probably should’ve started this series for the Caps but he still came in for game 3 and backstopped the team to the next round.

This is a true battle of special teams with the Capitals having the best powerplay in the playoffs and Penguins having the best powerplay this season. The injury of Evgeni Malkin could be potentially devastating to Pittsburgh if he misses multiple games, but deadline acquisition Derrick Brassard could step up and take over that role as he has been very good for the team thus far. The Penguins certainly have history on their side when it comes to this matchup, but the Capitals can only fall apart so many times in the playoffs before they finally burst through their invisible barrier. That time could be now…

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America)

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America)

Winnipeg Jets vs. Nashville Predators

Season Series: 2-2

This is the battle of the two best teams in the league this season. The Jets and Predators each have been led by a balanced attack, stable defense and strong goaltending this year.

The Predators certainly got a tougher fight than most would’ve seen from the Colorado
Avalanche. This series seemed the most likely for a sweep as Nashville had the best record in the league while Colorado had the fewest points for a playoff team. Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon did what they could but the class of the West couldn’t be stopped. Unexpectedly, its been Colton Sissons and Austin Watson leading the Preds in points so far, the team is getting contributions from everyone.

The Jets rolled through the Minnesota Wild in 5 games. The Jets looked like the most dangerous team in the first round with a balanced attack and strong goaltending from Connor
Hellebuyck. The Wild dealt with injuries throughout the series and their top defenseman Ryan Suter was already out for the playoffs. Mark Scheifele potted 4 goals while Dustin Byfuglien had 5 assists for the Jets.

A crucial factor in the Jets success has been the addition of Paul Stastny has surpassed expectations as he solidifies the line with young stars Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers. The Predators have pushed through led by their defense core many consider as the best in the league featuring PK Subban (Norris Trophy finalist). Austin Waston may have led the team in PIMs this season but now he leads them in points after the first round. This is truly a powerful battle and while making a prediction is difficult, the Jets seem to have the stronger goaltending that will give them the edge in this series.

(Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Vegas Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks

Season Series: 3-1 VGK

The wild and crazy season for Vegas takes its next stop in San Jose. Both these teams advanced with sweeps but still don’t get respect from the league as Cup contenders.

The Knights had one of the tightest sweeps ever as they beat the LA Kings. The Knights won each game by 1 goal and held the Kings to just 3 goals in the 4 games. The Cinderella story keeps on making history, cementing their status as the best expansion team in the history of sports. The Kings had no answer even with Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty coming off career years. Marc-Andre Fleury has been nothing short of outstanding and will look to carry forward this level to the next round.

The Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks in what may have been the most surprising series. The Sharks and Ducks were fairly even teams so not a huge upset but not many could have foreseen a
sweep. The Ducks core is getting real old and their lack of offensive firepower hurt them this year.
Martin Jones was between the pipes for San Jose and only gave up 4 goals in 4 games to lock in the Sharks advancement.

The Knights continue to prove people wrong and fans everywhere are starting to take notice of their new stars Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith. The Sharks are another one of those teams always in the playoffs but can never win that Stanley Cup. This core is higher up in age but this has been supplemented with fresh and young talent. Martin Jones has been solid between the pipes along with Fleury bringing his highly successful experience to lead the charge of the Knights. This does seem like a tough matchup for Vegas but their style of play makes them a slight favourite here, never take them lightly.

Stanley Cup Playoff chase hits the home stretch

The NHL season is winding down to a close next month and teams are roughly 10 games away from completing the season. Some teams are fighting for the chance to make the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Western Conference has some fierce competitions but we’ll start with the one wildcard battle in the East.

Here’s a little reminder of the playoff format: Ever since 2014, the Stanley Cup Playoffs haven’t been decided by just the eight best teams of the conference, but rather the best within each division. The top three teams from each of the four divisions automatically make it. However, the 4th seeds of each division could just be from each division of the 5th place team could cross over to the other if they have a better record than the 4th seed in that division.

(Photo by Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo by Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

The Eastern conference playoff picture is simple, there are just 9 teams vying for the 8 playoff spots. Tampa Bay and Boston are at the top of the Atlantic with Toronto safely in 3rd place. The Florida Panthers are 4th in the division and are currently outside of a playoff spot because the New Jersey Devils are ahead of them. The Panthers have 79 points in 70 games while the Devils have 82 in 72 games so Florida needs to make use of those games in hand to claim that playoff spot. Also, the Panthers have three games in hand on Columbus and Philadelphia but they each have 85 points so far.

Ever since the Panthers got healthy, they have been on fire and climbed back into playoff contention. Goaltender Roberto Luongo has propelled this club into a fight and they need to take advantage of an easier schedule within their division if they want to slide into the playoffs.

(Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Western conference has several teams in a fierce battle to play more than 82 games this year. Nashville, Winnipeg and Las Vegas are pretty much safe to make the playoffs. After that is where things get interesting. The Minnesota Wild have 90 points on the year and the San Jose Sharks have 89 but they are only a few points clear of the next batch of teams.

The Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are all tied with 86 points and hold playoff spots. The Dallas Stars are right on their tails with 84 points and the St. Louis Blues are also there with 83. The Calgary Flames are just 6 points back with 80 this year but they are in poor form and will likely miss the playoffs.

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The Blues made a surprising move to deal Paul Stastny for picks but still remain in the hunt. Their inability to score will ultimately be the downfall for them. The Dallas Stars have only won 2 of their last 10 games and with goaltender Ben Bishop getting hurt again, there is good reason to be skeptical of the Stars. The Avalanche have been carried their leader and MVP candidate Nathan MacKinnon. They have suffered just one regulation loss in their last 11 games. The Minnesota Wild have won 10 of 14 and been outshooting their opponents in almost all of those games. The resurgence of Eric Staal has led the team to a safer position right now.

The Pacific Division is tight between the Sharks, Ducks and Kings but they will look to take easy points against the weak bottom of that division. Anaheim have now won 3 in a row after dropping 3 straight and will look to keep this going to end the year. The Kings have been treading water for the last month but hope their strong defensive play will help them finish the season strong. The Sharks have won 7 of 9 games since the trade deadline and their acquisition of Evander Kane. Kane has had 5 goals, 5 assists and 31 hits in 9 games with the team as they look ahead to the playoffs.

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Western conference race is even more engaging when you look at the numbers of games between the contenders. There are 13 games played between the Ducks, Kings, Sharks, Wild, Avalanche and Stars until the end of the season. Games with this level of importance will be played at a playoff level given the grand implications of each matchup. Hockey fans are in for a treat to end the season.