All The US NHL teams have started their playoff races with some powerful performances. I said it in a previous blog but these series have been good to us. Every single one is intense as hell. I think it’s not just because this is the playoffs but because there are fans back in the buildings. The players have energy to feed off of that is not just their own. They now have people to play and make a show for. We’ve seen so many huge hits and big fights in just the first few games and I think it is only going to go up from here. The playoffs are always intense when it comes to hockey but this year it is on another level entirely. Almost all US series have had their first two games and it is time for a quick recap rundown
Washington Capitals vs Boston Bruins
This series is tied up 1-1 after their first 2 games. I talked a bit in depth about their first game the other night where the Caps won it in OT. The Bruins came back to win last game in OT, settling things even. This series, in my mind, is still pretty neck-and-neck. Both games played so far have been extremely close and needed to be decided in OT. Both sides have had great chances that ended with insane saves, there have been scraps between players – it’s been a good series so far. The Bruins’ top guys started stepping up more last game so I think they’ll be massive come Game 3. They play one another Wednesday, May 19th, at 5:30PM CT. I’m 100% in on Boston winning this series so let’s go B’s.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Islanders
Another tied up series that has been good so far. Game 1 went into OT where Kyle Palmieri scored a sick OT GWG to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead in the series. Tonight, the Penguins pulled out a win in a close 2-1 game and now they’re tied 1-1. Another high shot count, high energy series. Tristan Jarry has started both games for the Penguins and he’s stood tall – stopping a combine 74 of 79 shots. I think if the Penguins get Malkin back and he’s on his shit, they’ll take over this series and advance to Round 2. These two play their 3rd game on Thursday, May 20th, at 6PM CT.
Florida Panthers vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Talk about hot hockey, eh? Florida has produced some of the most entertaining moments from the playoffs so far in just 2 games. Game 1 was a battle. It went back and forth with knucks being chucked every which way. If you want to pull fans to hockey games, show them that one. It was electric. Sadly (for me), a late goal from Brayden Point put the Lightning up 5-4 and eventually gave them the victory. Game 2 was similar but the Panthers had a rough time getting on the board. Still a lot of hatred between these two teams and I’m hoping this series goes to 7 games with the Panthers winning. No matter the cost. Currently, the Lightning lead 2-0 and their next game is Thursday, May 20th, at 5:30PM CT.
Minnesota Wild vs Vegas Golden Knights
This is a series that I wouldn’t have thought would be fun but here we are. Game 1 was intense. There was no goal throughout regulation but by no means was this one boring. The Minnesota Wild have been a lot of fun this season and when you put that against one of the best goaltenders in the NHL (Marc-Andre Fleury) – great hockey happens. You have to get creative to win, can’t fall back on what you’re used to. The Wild won Game 1 in OT with the only goal in the game coming from Joel Eriksson Ek. Game 2 was just as pressure-filled but we had more scoring. There was back-to-back goals and Vegas getting their first goal past Cam Talbot. The Vegas Golden Knights ended up taking this one with a 3-1 final score. The series is tied 1-1 with Game 3 coming up on Thursday, May 20th, at 8:30PM CT. Oh, and go Wild.
Colorado Avalanche vs St. Louis Blues
These two teams are just 1 game into their series but the Avs have laid it on thick. I blogged about Gabe Landeskog’s Gordie Howe Hatty to start the series and it is, sincerely, a great way to get the boys goin’ into playoffs. The Avs and Blues have bad blood between them so expect many more heavy hitting games between the two. As for game 1, not only did Gabe Landeskog stand out but Nate MacKinnon made his return to the ice loud and clear. The Avs won with a killer 4-1 final score. This series will be a fun one to watch. I think the Avs have the ability to blue St. Louis out of the water, I mean come on look at them. Their 2nd game of the series is Wednesday, May 19th, at 9:30PM CT.
Carolina Hurricanes vs Nashville Predators
Lmao Go Canes. Just 1 game into this series, the Carolina Hurricanes have ran out the gates blazing. They beat the Preds 5-2 in game 1, 2 of those Hurricane goals came from their Captain Jordan Staal. After watching the Canes all season, I think they have a serious chance to take out the Preds. Their depth is deeper, their defense is stronger. I mean maybe the Preds flip the script in Game 2 but I don’t really think they will. So the Canes lead the series 1-0 and game 2 will be Wednesday, May 19th, at 7PM CT.
So far the US has had all the fun because Bettman made Vancouver and Calgary finish their regular seasons before the Canadian teams could start their playoff series. We have been able to watch so much great hockey and it is far from over. Let’s mix in some more great teams north of the border. The Canadian series will start Wednesday (May 19th) at 8PM CT with the Edmonton Oilers vs the Winnipeg Jets. I talked about those series here so take a look. I think the Canadian teams will have as much energy on the ice- if not more because they’ve been forced to watch everyone else play while they wait. Most clubs still can’t host fans but the Montreal Canadians said earlier today that they will be able to have a few in attendance after May 28th. We can truly see, side by side, how fans in the building will effect game play and energy. I, for one, think the Canadian teams will come out bangin’ regardless! More great hockey is coming and it is going to be amazzziiing.
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Featured Image: David Zalubowski, The Associated Press