Wild struggle against Blues in 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Wednesday, Apr. 12 saw the opening of the first round of the NHL’s postseason. Since then, every game has been anything but predictable as of Monday Apr. 17.

The Minnesota Wild secured second in the Western Conference and home-ice in the first round, but so far have fallen 0-3 against the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues’ goaltender Jake Allen has played a near-perfect three games. This, along with a technically perfect defense thus far, has allowed the Blues to lift themselves to two road and a home victory, before game four on Apr. 19, where they will look to sweep the Wild with a fourth win in the best-of-seven series.

Also within the Central Division, the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks have gone head-to-head twice as of Apr. 15. In both contests the Predators have blanked the Blackhawks, and Predators’ goaltender Pekka Rinne was granted two assists—more points than the entire Blackhawks team, and the first back-to-back shutouts to open the playoffs since the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2001.

The curse has continued between the Anaheim Ducks and the Calgary Flames, with the Ducks winning identical 3-2 victories over the Flames in Anaheim. The Flames have not won a game in Anaheim since Apr. 25, 2006.

As of Sunday, Apr. 16, the Edmonton Oilers lead the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in their first postseason run in eleven years. San Jose won the first game in overtime, but, for the first time in NHL postseason history, the Oilers won game two with only short-handed goals (Zack Kassian and Connor McDavid). They continued on to won game three, also in regulation.

In the East, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Pittsburgh Penguins lead the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0, even with the Jackets in top form for game three, losing in overtime. In that overtime loss for Columbus, Jake Guentzel became the first Penguins rookie to score a hat trick in the postseason—including the game winner, putting him at four goals so far in the series.

The Montreal Canadians and the New York Rangers have proven to be a “best of the goalies” matchup, with Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist, respectively, standing tall in each of three games so far. The Canadians lead 2-1.

Between the Boston Bruins and the Ottawa Senators, the 1-1 split says it all. In the first game, Boston came out fast and kept the Senators on their heels, causing enough minor mistakes on them to come out with a win. In game two, however, Ottawa stood strong, proving to have the better offense, and scored three unanswered goals to win in overtime, 4-3.

Arguably the most exciting matchup of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is the one between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals. The Capitals finished the regular season as the second consecutive President’s Trophy winners, and heavy favorites for their first Stanley Cup with Alex Ovechkin.

The Maple Leafs are the second youngest team in the league, boasting nine rookies, including second overall goal scorer Austin Matthews.

Until this year, they hadn’t reached the playoffs since 2013; 2004 before that. And yet, despite a quiet Matthews, fellow rookie and fourth-liner Kasperi Kapanen finished game two with a double overtime assist from veteran Brian Boyle, scoring the goal that evened the series 1-1, while shocking the hockey world.