By: Nicholas Jacquin, Sports Writer
The quest for the Stanley Cup is viewed by many as the toughest championship to win in all of sports. It takes over a month and a half to complete with four rounds with each being a best of seven series. The first round of the 2017 Playoffs wrapped up this past weekend and each series was worth watching, some more than others.
Winning the President’s Trophy as the top regular season team was the Washington Capitals. After falling behind 2-1 in their series versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, they were able to bounce back and win the next three, to move on to the next round. Former St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie came up big in the series, delivering three goals in the six games.
In another Eastern Conference series, it was the Pittsburgh Penguins taking care of the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games. Pittsburgh center Jake Guentzel recorded five goals over the course of the series to lead the reigning champs to the second round.
The New York Rangers ousted the Montreal Canadiens in another first round matchup. New York fell behind 2-1 in the series but was able to win three straight to win the series. It was the game 6 victory in OT by a score of 3-2 that really put New York in position to finish off the Canadiens.
The final Eastern Conference matchup was between the Boston Bruins and the Ottawa Senators. After Boston won the first matchup, the Senators won three straight to take a 3-1 series lead. They eventually won the series in Game Six with a 3-2 victory in OT.
While the top team in the East was able to advance to the second round, the top in the West was not so lucky. The Chicago Blackhawks were swept by the Nashville Predators in four games and were outscored 13-3 over the four games, while failing to score until the third game.
Another 4 game sweep occurred in the Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames series. After winning both Games One and Two by scores of 3-2, the Ducks won in OT in Calgary for Game Three by a score of 5-4. They finished off the series on the road with a 3-1 victory.
The Ducks opponent will be the Edmonton Oilers, who are enjoying their first playoff action since the 2005-06 season when they fell in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Oilers beat the San Jose Sharks in six games to move on to the second round.
Finally, it was the St. Louis Blues winning their series matchup versus the Minnesota Wild in five games. St. Louis was led by their goalie, Jake Allen, who had an unbelievable series recording a .956 save percentage. Forward Jaden Schwartz and defensemen Joel Edmundson each had a good series, recording two goals each over the five games.
St. Louis won all three of their road games and will now have home ice advantage in their second round matchup with the Predators. It should be a fun second round throughout the NHL as each team is one step closer to capturing the elusive Stanley Cup Trophy.