Why Everyone should Be Tuning to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Andrew Shearson, Writer

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As a Chicagoan, I admit to have been spoiled by the Blackhawk’s success in the last ten years. Since the Blackhawks have been eliminated from playoff contention two years in a row now, I’ve been able to watch the playoffs without having any stake in them.

The 2019 playoffs have been utter madness to say the least.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were the number one team heading into the playoffs, and the second place time wasn’t even close. With their regular season success, they clinched home-ice advantage throughout the entirety of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and were the best team on home ice all season long. Wow. Quite a feat for a smaller market team.

The Lightning’s stay didn’t last very long in the postseason. They were swept immediately in the series by a score of four games to none. The front runners were knocked out of playoff contention just like that, getting swept by the very last team to clinch a berth. The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated all series long, getting contributions from all over their roster.

In what other sports does the first seed get swept in the first round? In basketball, the Warriors have won three of the last four titles. They’re on pace to do so again. No surprise there. In football, the Patriots have also been to three straight Super Bowl appearances. Clearly, professional basketball and football is incredibly predictable.

Do you want to hear another mind boggling statistic?

Every divisional winner in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs was defeated in the first round this year. The Calgary Flames, the Nashville Predators, and the Washington Capitals all came up short in the first round. By the way, the Capitals were the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Starting to appreciate the unpredictability of hockey? Good.

Another crazy thing about the playoffs this year is the “Sweep Effect,”as I like to call it. In the first round, the Pittsburgh Penguins were swept four games to none by the New York Islanders, a team that nobody thought had a chance at competing for a title. The New York Islanders went on to play the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round, a matchup nobody originally envisioned. Shockingly, the Hurricanes moseyed their way to the next round, sweeping the Islanders with ease.

Now this is where things become absurd. The Carolina Hurricanes advanced in the conference finals to play the Boston Bruins, the new frontrunner of the field. Carolina got walloped to say the least. Carolina suffered a 4-0 defeat on Thursday, May 16 to lose the series to the Bruins four games to none. Another sweep. The Bruins are the team that swept the Hurricanes, who swept the Islanders, who swept the Penguins in the first round. Wow, that’s a mouthful.

When asked about the buzz of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, senior Eamon O’brien exclaimed, “Best playoffs in years. There’s been so much drama all over the board. Obviously I’m a huge hockey fan but even those who aren’t will admire the playoff intensity.”

So why am I telling you to watch the playoffs now?

First, because now there are only three teams left. The St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks are duking it out for the rights to play the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. The season is winding down and so much drama is left to unfold.

For those who watch, a new admiration for hockey will be discovered. Professional hockey players compete harder and longer than any other sport. Hockey is also deemed to be equally as physical as football, given the fighting and the excruciating body checks.

Watch one game of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs to understand the hype surrounding it. As far as professional sports go, there isn’t much else airing on a nightly basis. If you want to watch the Warriors win another championship, I guess that’s cool, too. Not really.

I asked Daniel Montaquila, another senior at Loyola, to tell me who he thought was going to win the cup. Daniel explained how he was a Penguins fan but if he had to pick it would “most likely be the Sharks,” contrary to the majority of the kids I asked who answered with the Bruins.

So who will hoist the Stanley Cup in early June? I guess you’re going to need to tune in to find out.

Coverage is on NBC, NBCSN, or NHL Network.