The NHL Playoffs are here. This season, several teams have high hopes while others simply hope to prove themselves for the shortcomings of years’ past.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to follow up their back-to-back championships in the previous two seasons with more of the same: hoisting the Stanley Cup in the Steel City for the third straight year.
No team has come close to a three-peat for decades. The last time it happened was when the New York Islanders repeated for four straight seasons from 1980 to 1983.
Captain Sidney Crosby and Alternate Captain Evgeni Malkin are simply two of the top 10 best players in the NHL. They can take over a game in ways most players cannot, explaining why Malkin’s ability to dominate with his size and speed paired with Crosby’s unconscionable playmaking is the driving force behind Pittsburgh’s three-peat hopes.
Unsurprisingly, their two stars’ impressive offensive play is what gives them a current two to one series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Alex Ovechkin—one of the league’s bonafide superstars—is hoping to get a 13-year-old monkey off of his back. Ovechkin, who has played the entirety of his career for the Washington Capitals, has never been able to advance past the second round of the postseason. Crosby, Ovechkin’s contemporary whom he is most closely regarded to, has conversely managed to win three titles in the last decade.
Ovechkin is hoping to prove that he can perform when it matters most and erase his legacy as a player that struggles to get it done in big moments. The fact that the Caps have blown two 2-goal leads in their last two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets and are down 2-0 in the series illustrates their lack of flipping the metaphorical switch so far.
After the announcement that Las Vegas would be getting an NHL team, many wondered if hockey would take off in Sin City. After breaking the record for the most points in an inaugural season (hockey standings are measured in a point system, not to be confused with points scored), the Golden Knights have earned the love of their local fans. The surprise of the season, Vegas has been headed by strong veterans such as forward James Neal and goalie Marc Andre Fleury.
They have been playing without many expectations, so it will be interesting to see how their success translates to the postseason. So far so good; they hold a 2-0 lead over the L.A. Kings.
Hockey games can be decided by a fluke bounce of the puck at any moment. It will be exciting to see how each series plays out and which teams are able to advance to the next round.
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