NHL First Round Playoff Review: Some things to take away

What was gathered?
Source: NHL.com

I have said it at least ten times by now but I guess I needed to be reminded.  Anything can happen in the NHL playoffs.  Nothing like both the first seeds and second seeds being knocked out in the first round.  I don’t think anyone could have seen all four wild cards advancing. One of the first seeds happened to be the all-time wins record-tying Tampa Bay Lightning who is now the first president’s trophy winner to not win a single game in the playoffs.  Let’s not forget the San Jose Sharks coming back from a 3-1 games deficit. Or the Dallas Stars putting the division champion Nashville Predators to shame in 6 games. All in all, the thing to remember about the NHL is that you never truly know what is going to happen.  The top teams could be dominant or they could be upset in the first round. This is one of the things that makes this sport the most fun to watch and is not showing any signs of stopping.

  • Special teams are especially important.  Yeah its cheesy but it’s still true.  The Blue Jackets power play was a significant factor in helping them past the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars penalty kill against the Predators kept them on top.  The Avalanche had several power play goals that helped them get past the Calgary Flames in the first round. Do I need to go on? A game can often be decided on special teams and it is important to have a great special teams group in the playoffs.  The Power plays and Penalty kills have been particularly prominent so far and there is now reason to think this won’t transfer into round two.
  1. The Blues have been out of the loop for almost this reason alone, goaltending.  I hope you like the Blues because the St. Blues are here to succeed now and later.  I knew the Blues had talented players like Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly but I thought they needed a few more pieces to truly succeed. They needed a goaltender because Jake Allen never cut it but I didn’t know that a goaltender was the only piece of the pie holding them back.  If management has any say at all, Jordan Binnington will be in St Louis for a long time and will likely win one or more Vezina Trophies along the way. In short, this team is going to be really good for a long time as long as they keep Jordan Binnington and I would look to see them in the Stanley Cup Finals in future years.
  2. We have had ten overtime games already and three of the first round series final game was decided by overtime or even double overtime.  We also have had combined total of five series in the first round that went to six games or more. As hockey has shown us before, the NHL is more competitive than other sports.  Take the NFL for example.  I would be happy to see one or two playoff games go into overtime and the wild card games not be blowouts.  Take the NBA for example. It’s Golden State every year. There is some hope for the Bucks winning but even still that’s two teams.  Anyone can win in the NHL because the margins between teams is just smaller. This also makes it more entertaining for the viewer.

In the end, it was an incredibly exciting first round with many lead changes in both games and series.  The NHL still has the best playoffs in sports. As we start to see these stories play themselves out it will be interesting to see if the wild cards continue with the upsets or whether the top teams establish dominance.  Looking forward to round two!

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