It really couldn't have ended any better but a Game 7 between last year's swept Tampa Bay Lightning and the ever strong playoff contender the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings went into Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead and after a 5-2 final in game 6 (Tampa Winning) it was off to sunny Florida for Game 7. It was literally anyone's game until the last few minutes. It was 0-0 heading into the 3rd period. Tampa Bay's Braydon Coburn scored the game winning goal with almost 4 minutes gone in the 3rd. Detroit came back guns blazing but couldn't figure it out which lead to an empty net goal scored by Anton Stralman and assisted by Tampa goalie Ben Bishop. Perhaps the most interesting fun fact about this series: Captains: Steven Stamkos for Tampa and Henrik Zetterberg for Detroit DID NOT score a goal during the entire series!! To add salt to the wound it was the 1st time in 23 playoff series Zetterberg didn't score a goal. Congrats Tampa!
The rest of the series ended like this:
The Anaheim Ducks ousted the Winnipeg Jets in 4 games. The first 3 games Winnipeg scored and Anaheim had to play catch up. In game 4 the Ducks dominated for a 5-2 final. The silver lining.... Winnipeg has the best fans in the league. They were voted the 3rd star of the game!
The New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in 5 games. Really I have nothing to say. The Rangers are a powerhouse. Maybe it is their head coach? #AlainVigneault
Both "Battle of the Canadian Teams" series ended game in 6's. The Montreal Canadiens took a stranglehold lead over the Ottawa Senators winning the first 3 games. Ottawa came back to win games 4 and 5 only to be beat in a heartbreaking game 6. Ottawa is a team to pay attention to next year, they a have a fight in them that I consider old school and classic. That being said, clearly for Canada it is exciting to see the Montreal Canadiens go through to Round 2.
In the West it was the Vancouver Canucks vs the Calgary Flames. The Canucks missed the playoffs last year after a terrible season but rose to the challenge this year. The Calgary Flames were making their first appearance in the playoffs since 2008. It was Calgary, Vancouver, Calgary, Calgary, Vancouver and a crazy game six that saw the Canucks lose a 3 goal 1st period lead to a 7-4 Calgary final. But congrats to the Flames and for the first time ever I think I might be saying "Go Flames Go"
The Chicago Blackhwaks beat the Nashville Predators in a game 6. This only makes me sad because I would love to see the Preds advance and let's be honest, the Blackhawks are playoff hogs. That being said the Blackhawks under Joel Quenneville's lead are one of the biggest powerhouse teams in modern day NHL hockey.
The St. Louis Blues lost in a game 6 to the Hockey States very own Minnesota Wild. It was an intense game to start that lead to 4-2 final for the Wild.
Game 7 was left between two series. The New York Islanders and the Washington Capitals. A personal favourite of mine, Capital Joel Ward scored the 1st goal late in the 2rd period. The Islanders scored an early 3rd period goal but a mid 3rd period goal by the Capitals that lead to Brayden Holtby and his team advancing to the 2nd round.
The other game 7 was between the Detroit Red Wings and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And Hockey Fans I will leave you with this......
Round Two Unfolds this way:
The Anaheim Ducks are playing the Calgary Flames
The Minnesota Wild will take on the Chicago Blackhawks
The New York Rangers will play the Washington Capitals
and finally the Tampa Bay Lightning with lace up against the Montreal Canadiens
And as I have said in previous years and I will say it again: the Hand Shake at the end of a series is one of if not my favourite traditions in hockey. I couldn't decide on a few so I have uploaded them all!
Enjoy and until next time hockey fans please continue to enjoy this great game!!