The 2015 NHL Postseason began on Wednesday, April 15th and since the race to the Stanley Cup got underway, hockey fans have witness shocking upsets as well as the complete domination of teams. In the first round of the playoffs, two exciting match-ups went to seven games while only the Anaheim Ducks were able to blowout the Winnipeg Jets. Forget the entertainment provided during the regular season because the best has yet to come as the NHL playoffs wrap up the second round and enters the Conference Finals.
The Anaheim Ducks finished with the number one seed in the Western Conference Pacific for a first round match-up against the Winnipeg Jets, the five seed in the Central division. Unfortunately for the Jets, the Ducks continued on their spree of dominance and eliminated Winnipeg with a series win of four games to none. Led by right wing Corey Perry and centerman Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim is nearly unstoppable, especially with these two players leading the postseason in total points scored with 14 points and 12 points respectively. The other three first round match-ups in the Western Conference all ended in six games and featured some exciting performances. Pitting fellow foes from the Pacific region against each other, Vancouver faced off against Calgary, but despite the Canucks higher record coming into the playoffs, the Flames came out victorious. The Minnesota Wild finished fourth in the Central division during the regular season but put on a very impressive performance and took down the St. Louis Blues who were ranked number one in the same division. Chicago finished just under the Nashville Predators in the Central division but that didn’t stop the Blackhawks from advancing to round two. Led by All-Star Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks are an extremely dangerous team that is in search of their second Stanley Cup in three seasons and secured another trip to the Western Conference Final to face off against the Anaheim Ducks.
Meanwhile in the Eastern Conference, both match-up featuring the Tampa Bay Lightning versus the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals against the New York Islanders took the first round to seven games. Although center Tyler Johnson for Tampa Bay had a terrific series, Braydon Coburn and Anton Stralman recorded one goal each in the final game to give the Lightning a 2 to 0 victory for a trip to the second round. The New York Islanders haven’t won a first round playoff match-up in the last 22 years, but the Washington Capitals were merciless as their opponents faced what seemed to be an inevitable fate. Game 7 was tied 1 to 1 in the third period but Evgeny Kuznetsov came up clutch and scored the game winning goal with seven minutes and 18 seconds remaining to keep the Capitals postseason hopes alive. As for the rest of the East, the Montreal Canadiens outlasted the Ottawa Senators in six games and the New York Rangers easily eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in five. Centerman Derick Brassard and left wing Rick Nash both came up with big performances for the Rangers to help them advance to the second round.
Round 2 of the NHL Playoffs is coming to a close with the two Western Conference contenders set and two Eastern Conference teams on the verge of victory. With the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks easily advancing to the Conference Championship, hockey fans are in for a real treat with a match-up between two dominant contenders, while the Tampa Bay Lightning hopes to keep its lead alive entering Game 6 against the Montreal Canadiens and a Game 7 tie-breaker will leave either the New York Rangers or the Washington Capitals a Stanley Cup hopeful and crush championship dreams of the other. All four teams that will advance to the semifinals will be comprised of the best and most talented athletes on the ice, so the competition in the NHL is going to get even hotter as the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals rapidly approach.