Reviewing the 22-23 NHL Playoffs
Every April, hockey fans around the world enter what some will call the most stressful time of the year. Elevated heart rates, all-nighters on weekdays, stress snacking, and shouting, all parts of the experience of watching your favorite team face off in a playoff game. Sometimes your team doesn’t make it, sometimes the games result in boring blowouts. Luckily for us, some fresh faces have joined the competition this year in the race for the Stanley Cup.
The Colorado Avalanche took home the Cup last year in a 6-game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both of those teams qualified again this year, but there’s another team that’s been stealing most of the spotlight: the Boston Bruins finished this regular season with the best NHL record ever recorded with 65 wins and only 12 losses and 5 overtime losses. Even though they reflected such an impressive record, they still managed to be eliminated by the Florida Panthers in round one, an upset no one in the hockey world was prepared for.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the playoffs this year is what's missing. Two of the most dominating hockey players of this century, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, will not be making an appearance. Both of their teams fell short of the post-season, leaving opportunity for new talent to shine.
Fortunately for the Northeastern US, the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, and New Jersey Devils all contended for the playoffs this year for the first time since the 2006-2007 season. The Devils and Rangers played in a vigorous 7-game series in the first round. New Jersey was able to pull out a win over the blueshirts and moved on to face the Caroline Hurricanes, who had eliminated the Islanders, but were also taken down in just five games.
Also in the Eastern Conference, we saw the Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning. Fans of the Leafs rallied around their stadium chanting “We want Florida!” fearing they would have to face the vicious Bruins. As mentioned, the Panthers pulled out a win and the Maple Leafs got what they wanted. Ironically enough, the Panthers took down the Leafs in a blowout.
Shifting the focus over to the Western Conference, the reigning Colorado Avalanche were eliminated by the Seattle Kraken who made their playoff debut this year. The Kraken continued on to compete against the Dallas Stars, but was unfortunately eliminated. And since the Las Vegas Knights knocked out the Edmonton Oilers, the Stars recently battled the Knights for a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Now, the end of the season is upon us. The Panthers have once again pulled off an outstanding upset, winning their conference finals against the Hurricanes in just four games. The Knights became the Western Conference champions by defeating the Dallas Stars. The Stanley Cup final teams are decided. The Florida Panthers and the Las Vegas Knights, an unexpected, but fresh match-up to end the 22-23 hockey season.