The Fight for the Cup

The much-anticipated NHL playoffs begin tonight

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The Fight for the Cup

Hannah Shiflett, Reporter

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Today is the day that many hockey fans and players all across the United States, Canada and other parts of the world have marked on their calendars. April 10th marks the first day of playoffs in which the 16 teams in the National Hockey League will compete against one another to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Last year, the winners of the Stanley Cup were the Washington Capitals, who defeated the Las Vegas Golden Knights with a 4-3 series win over the newly formed team. This year, the Caps are fighting to defend the Stanley Cup and bring it home for another year.

In the Western Conference, we have the Nashville Predators playing against the first Wild Card team, the Dallas Stars. Followed by the Winnipeg Jets who will play against the St. Louis Blues, the Calgary Flames who will meet the second Wild Card team, the Colorado Avalanche, and finally, the San Jose Sharks who will go against the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Out East, it is the Tampa Bay Lightning playing against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Boston Bruins against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Washington Capitals against the Carolina Hurricanes, and the New York Islanders taking on the Penguins.

Starting out in the Eastern Conference, it is the Carolina Hurricanes’ first appearance in the playoffs since 2009, while the Pens make it their 13th consecutive year. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, they are currently tied for the most wins in NHL franchise history. While the Toronto Maple Leafs seek to finally break their 50-year dry spell of not winning the Stanley Cup, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Carolina Hurricanes have never won a Cup. In the Western Conference, the Las Vegas Golden Knights will make it their second consecutive year of making it to the playoffs since their creation two seasons ago.

Many fans assume that the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning are poised to win it all. In the Western Conference,  the Calgary Flames are the one seed and second overall team in the league behind Tampa Bay. There is little doubt that all the wild card holders out West will lose in the first round, but in the East it is believed that the fight to win in the Easter Conference Division will be much harder. Hockey is the sport where just about anything can happen, and Tampa could lose in the first round against Columbus since defensemen Anton Strålman and right winger Ryan Callahan are currently injured and did not show up to practice on April 8th. Columbus even made a great comeback into a playoff spot, just passing the Montreal Canadians with just a two-point lead against the team.

In Pittsburgh, many hope that the Pens will be able to defeat the Islanders and move on to bring back another Stanley Cup after losing the Washington Capitals in the second round last year. If both the Pens and Caps can win their first rounds, the rivals will face off in the second for a series that is sure to captivate hockey fans worldwide.

Tonight it begins.  Pens vs. Islanders, 7:30pm EST.