When I wrote my article after the miraculous comeback in game one, I had absolutely no idea what was about to transpire in the series ahead. I was oh so happy to steal a game in Tampa, but the pessimist in me feared this might be the only good thing the Jackets could accomplish in this series before the Tampa behemoth woke up.
So, I came into game two with lowered expectations. The national pundits kept talking about how game one was a fluke and how Tampa would get it together and assert their dominance. And I believed them because I thought there was no way Tampa would allow themselves to play that poorly again.
It’s no secret from the content I write that I watch a lot more hockey than I do basketball. But, I still do have some idea of what’s going on in the association. So, I thought, why don’t I take a stab at predicting the NBA playoffs? You know, just for fun.
*Disclaimer-I do not know all the ins and outs of everything going on in the association, so don’t get up in arms if I completely whiff on some of this. Continue reading!
After a long and strenuous journey, the Capitals finally broke through, got over the hump, and won the Stanley Cup last season. Years and years of regular season success and division titles had ended in crushing defeats to rivals like the Penguins and Rangers. However, last year they rewrote all the narratives and exercised the demons with a second-round victory over the Penguins, and from there wouldn’t be denied their chance to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup. Now, hot off their fourth straight division crown, they look to defend their title.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes ended the longest playoff drought in the NHL this season, surging their way up the standings with a spectacular second half of the season. With markedly improved goaltending, a solid blue line, and some good young talent up front, the Canes are looking to once again embark on a deep playoff run and win their first Cup since 2006.
Wow. Just wow. As I sit down to write this piece, it’s about an hour after the Blue Jackets pulled off one of the most thrilling and exhilarating comebacks I’ve ever witnessed. I still can’t quite process everything that went down tonight, from the abysmal first period, the turning of the tides in the second, and the Jackets’ fearless effort to complete the comeback in the third. So, let’s unpack the evening’s events, and try and wrap our heads around everything that happened.
In many ways, this game paralleled game one of last year’s playoffs, where the Jackets dug themselves a deficit that they had to dig themselves out of. Sure enough, the Jackets dug in, scored some goals, and tied the game back up and forced overtime. And in overtime, who could forget Panarin’s beauty of a goal to steal game one for Columbus?
The Islanders fired their coach and GM at the end of last season, and then lost their star player John Tavares to Toronto. This year was supposed to be a transition year from the Tavares era into the new era of defense and structure under coach Barry Trotz. Instead, the Islanders exceeded all expectations, excelling in the regular season under Trotz’s system and earning home ice for the first time since 1988. Now, they look to translate that regular season success into playoff success, looking to win their second series since 1993 and first Cup since 1983.
Meanwhile, the Penguins have enjoyed lots of success in the Crosby era, making the playoffs for their thirteenth straight season. In that span, they have won three Cups (including two of the last three), made the Cup Finals four times, and the conference final five times. However, last year, the Ovechkin-led Capitals finally got the better of them in the second round. The Penguins are hungry to get back to the promised land and win their third Cup in four years, cementing them as one of the great dynasties in NHL history.