With only a few games remaining in the NHL regular season, it’s time to shift your brain into “playoff mode.” It’s OK if your favorite team didn’t make the playoffs; there’s always next year. As for the teams who did make the playoffs, they will begin their battle for the infamous Stanley Cup on April 11.
So, who are the big contenders this year? Well, the reigning Stanley Cup champs, the Pittsburgh Penguins, have clinched the second place spot in the Metropolitan Division, so you know they’re looking to win their third cup in a row. For all you Boston fans out there, the Bruins also picked up a playoff spot in Atlantic Division.
As for the Western Conference, both the Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets have clinched playoff spots in the Central Division, followed by the newbies, the Vegas Golden Knights, who have locked up the Pacific Division. According to ESPN, the Knights became the first NHL team to earn a playoff berth in its first ever season since the Oilers and the Whalers in 1979-1980. Not bad for a team whose odds of winning the Stanley Cup went against them 500-1 at the start of the season.
Now, let’s talk about the teams who will be focusing on their golf swing, rather than hockey. Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks will be watching the playoffs from the sidelines because, according to CBS Sports, the Blackhawks will be missing out on the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. However, their story right now is pretty interesting. Netminder Corey Crawford was injured, along with the back-up goalie, which forced the Blackhawks to put in their third-string goalie, Collin Delia. Then, Delia got injured, forcing the team to call up an emergency goalie, Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant who played college hockey at Western Michigan University. I’m sure the Blackhawks are pretty upset at the whole situation, but Foster was pumped.
Another team that will not be making a 2018 playoff appearance is the Dallas Stars. With a loss to the Anaheim Ducks in the last few games of the regular season, the Stars’ wildcard hopes were crushed. According to Black Out Dallas, the Stars page on Fansided, this will mark the eighth time in the past 10 seasons that the Stars will not be competing for the Stanley Cup. Sorry Stars fans.
“I’m an Ottawa Senators fan and they didn’t make the playoffs. They go from making it very far in the playoffs last year and losing to Pittsburgh right before the finals, to being one of the worst teams in the league so it’s pretty disappointing,” fourth-year University of Maine soccer player Kendra Ridley said.
As the NHL season starts to intensify, it’s important to note that there is always next year and the sun will always rise the next day, so don’t get too upset about the outcome. That being said, feel free to scream at the television all you want for the next few months.