As we enter the second week of the 2015 NHL Playoffs, some hockey fans may sit back and enjoy their team’s comfortable lead while others continue to sport their jerseys with sweaty palms and beating hearts. One team that can feel very confident with their position is the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal is one of two teams to have a perfect playoff record so far, having defeated their Canadian counterparts, the Ottawa Senators, three times in three games. While going 3-0 in the first round is very impressive, the Senators have been challenging the Canadiens, only losing by one goal in every game. Hoping that the home ice advantage will work in their favor, Ottawa will be looking to get their first playoff win against Montreal at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22.
Also playing Wednesday at 7 p.m. is the New York Rangers, who will be taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The recipient of this years Presidents’ Trophy, awarded to the regular season’s top team, the Rangers are expected to take this round. However, New York is only leading 2-1 in the seven game series. The Penguins got their first win in game two, finishing with a score of 4-3. The Rangers responded with a 2-1 victory in game three, retaking the lead in the series. The player to watch in this series is none other than Penguins captain, Sidney Crosby, who is currently tied for the series lead with two goals and a total of three points.
What might actually strike people as shocking is the New York Islanders’ 2-1 series lead over the Washington Capitals. As the higher seed, it was predicted that the Capitals will take this first round matchup, but the Islanders are proving to challenge the Capitals, having beaten them 4-1 in game one and 2-1 in game three. While the 2-1 victory came during overtime, the Islanders didn’t have to sweat it out too much, scoring only 15 seconds into overtime play. Seconds into the period, Islanders captain John Tavares cashed in on a rebound, placing the puck past the right leg of Washington goalie, Braden Holtby. Leading the series, things are looking good in Long Island.
Looking at the Western Conference, most series remain close. The Minnesota Wild are currently beating higher seed St. Louis 2-1. Despite the fact that his team is trailing in the series, the player to watch is St. Louis Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko. As a first round draft pick, it is no surprise that Tarasenko is leading this playoff series with three goals and one assist for a total of four points. Although he is racking up points, Tarasenko and his team will have to work to take the series back during their next two games, which will take place on April 22 and 24.
Another potential upset in the West involves Chicago’s series with Nashville. The Blackhawks lead the Predators 2-1 in the series, hoping to widen the gap even further as they continue to play the seven-game series. I am sure that anyone reading this can agree that the Blackhawks would find themselves in an even more favorable position if Colgate junior Kyle Baun were able to suit up. While Baun was not able to make an appearance in this year’s playoffs, Colgate is not going unrepresented. Former Colgate player Chris Wagner has gotten some ice time with the Anaheim Ducks in two playoff games so far, playing a total of eighteen shifts.
Anaheim comfortably leads the series against the Winnipeg Jets 3-0, meaning they could take the round and end the Jets’ season with just one more win. Ducks’ forward Corey Perry has greatly helped Anaheim reach its success, scoring two goals and tallying two assists in only three games. In dramatic fashion, their game three win came in overtime play. Down in the third, the Ducks came back and forced the Jets into extra time. Despite trailing multiple times throughout the game, Anaheim took the lead when it truly counted, scoring five minutes into OT. It is very likely that the Ducks will close out the series on April 22, giving them plenty of rest time before their next series starts.
Good luck to all the fans who still have teams in the running and enjoy the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs!