Second Round Bracket Update for the 2017 NHL Playoffs After Exciting First Round Concluded Sunday
The first-round of the 2017 NHL playoffs are officially over. There were some surprises, some records and some heartbreak. There weren’t, however, any game sevens. In a weird change of pace from most years, not a single series managed to make it to a seventh game. There were two sweeps, though, as the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators swept the Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks respectively. If anybody claims to have picked the Blackhawks to be swept in the first round, they’re either lying or incredibly biased. Still, that’s part of the thrill of the playoffs – anything can happen.
Below is an updated bracket for the second-round followed by some insight on what happened and what to expect moving forward:
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What Happened in Round 1?
After the dust settled, the first round showed some legitimate contenders find themselves playing golf until the start of the 2017-18 season. The first-place team in the Western Conference, the Chicago Blackhawks, were shocked by the Predators in a swift four-game sweep. The Minnesota Wild dominated the league for most of the year until a monumental fall back to earth saw them look mortal in the last few months of the season trickling into the playoffs.
The Anaheim Ducks weren’t fooled by the young Calgary Flames, taking care of business in four consecutive games to bounce one of the league’s up-and-coming teams. Finally, in the west, the Edmonton Oilers bounced the San Jose Sharks in an exciting series that featured some of the NHL’s brightest young talents as well as some of the most seasoned veterans in the entire NHL.
In the Eastern Conference, the excitement was much the same. The President’s Trophy-winning Washington Capitals squared off against the Toronto Maple Leafs. While many people considered the Leafs to be dead in the water right out the gate, they proved that they could legitimately hang with the best team in the NHL’s regular season. It was an exciting series that ultimately saw the Capitals advance, but it also showed the rest of the league that the Maple Leafs are truly going to be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.
The Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated the Columbus Blue Jackets in a series that pitted two rivals against each other. The Penguins made quick work of the Blue Jackets who also proved this season that they are going to be a team to watch out for moving forward. The first-place Montreal Canadiens found themselves matched up against the New York Rangers in a rematch from the 2015 NHL playoffs – a series that saw Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price eliminated from the postseason and for much of the 2015-16 season due to a knee injury. Unable to enact their revenge, however, the Canadiens fell to the Rangers in six games and will return to the drawing board with some major questions to answer.
Finally, the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators squared off in a series that saw six consecutive one-goal games. Though the Bruins were missing 75 percent of their top-four defensemen from most of the regular season, they did receive a pleasant surprise in Charlie McAvoy who shined in his first six NHL games. The Bruins ultimately lost the series which set the pace for the Ottawa Senators to face off against the New York Rangers in the second round.
What’s Coming in Round 2?
With eight teams eliminated, only eight teams remain in the playoffs. The second-round will see the Nashville Predators face off against the St. Louis Blues in a series that sees two teams given the short-end of the stick the entire season behind both the Blackhawks and the Wild. With the two top teams in the division now eliminated, the Blues and Predators will fight for a spot in the Western Conference Finals. Neither team has ever won a Stanley Cup – something to keep an eye on moving forward.
The Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers will compete for the other spot in the Western Conference Finals after eliminating the Flames and Sharks. The Ducks won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2007 but have failed to win one since. The Oilers, on the other hand, competed for a Stanley Cup of their own in 2006. The difference is that the Oilers haven’t been able to return to the playoffs until this season. Both teams will be hungry as they look to reclaim their spot atop the league.
Eastern Conference Round 2
After the exciting series between the Washington Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the President’s Trophy winning team will face off against an old rival in the Pittsburgh Penguins. In a tale as old as time (or at least as old as the careers of both Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin), these two teams will square off in a heated matchup that will see two powerhouses collide. The Penguins are searching for their second championship in as many years. The Capitals, however, are looking for their first championship in franchise history.
In the final second-round series, the New York Rangers will face off against the Ottawa Senators. In a series that could have pitted the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens, the Rangers and Senators did their parts to change the script. The Rangers last won a Stanley Cup in the 1994 season while the Senators have never won a championship. They did, however, compete for one in 2007 in a losing effort against the Anaheim Ducks.
The second-round is here, and all parties involved will compete hard for their chance to win the Stanley Cup. For the teams eliminated, however, some drastic changes could occur as teams now prepare for the expansion and entry drafts. Only time will tell what will happen, but the hockey season is far from finished.