The NHL Playoffs (Part 2)

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The culmination of two teams’ deep runs made this a playoff worth remembering.

With their bandwagon pretty full, the Winnipeg Jets took us all the way to the Western Conference Finals. But alas, they had to bow out to the relentless Vegas Golden Knights. Winnipeg’s Dustin “Big Buff” Byfuglien was a machine on the ice. The hardest hitting player in the league nearly pulled it off against the eventual Western Conference Champions.

Sadly, Canada’s other favourite team south of the border, the Bruins were handled easily by the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games. They did, however, do the NHL a favour in the first round by eliminating the Leafs in a long seven game series. I think Babcock’s team was a little too much for the Bruins as they didn’t look the same in the Tampa series. With a young team like the Leafs, I’m sure we’ll be seeing both teams a lot in future playoffs.

Washington had finally gotten over that big hump of beating the slightly talented Pittsburgh Penguins who seemed to have been lacking the quality goaltending that Marc-André Fleury brought them at times. This is probably one gamble they want back when they went all in on Matt Murray. After eliminating the Pens, the Caps tip-toed their way to the Finals. A determined bunch, we saw them throw in some last minute efforts to get that win. Alexander Ovechkin played his heart out but stayed within the coach’s system, proving beneficial in the end.

Seeing the Golden Knights cruising their way to the Finals, I’m sure everyone expected this Cinderella story to end with them hoisting the Cup. Why not? They were a team of destiny, a team of players who had to prove to every team that didn’t protect them, they made a mistake by not doing so. The self-proclaimed “Rejects” would have loved to end their run like that.

I guess most everyone wanted to see that too, but then some of us also wanted to see Ovechkin finally get his Cup. With the likes of T.J. Oshie (an Ojibway brother), Evgeny Kuznetsov (who has the worst “celly” ever), Matt “The Goose” Niskanen, Nick Backstrom providing supporting roles, and backstopped by Brayden Holtby, these Caps proved they belonged. This determined bunch somehow found a way to beat the Golden Knights with their neutral zone pressure along with their powerplay. Most times you wondered how they were able to get past all the hitting and offensive pressure the Vegas team came with. Destiny, I guess.

One thing that the playoffs could have done without was the annoyingly long intros that Vegas had before every game! Like, come on! Yes, it was pretty cool to see that in the first round but towards the end it was, how would you put it? Overkill. I could’ve gone to hit the tables for a half hour and come back in time for puck drop. In five games, the Capitals did us all a favour by winning it on their rink. I couldn’t handle anymore intros.

Up to today, I don’t think Ovechkin has let go of the Stanley Cup. Since they won, I’ve been checking the news to see where these guys are celebrating next. The non-stop partying is a rare sight to see in this day and age, but it’s somewhat a welcome sight. After years of heartbreaking losses in the playoffs it was nice to see them finally come out on top.

Following Ovechkin’s week-long parade, this was definitely one for the ages.

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