As also appeared in BrightestYoungThings

Your Stanley Cup Playoffs Survival Guide

The Stanley Cup Playoffs start this week!  Have no idea what’s been happening on the ice this year?  We’ve got you covered with 9 sure-fire phrases that will help you fake a hockey conversation this playoff season.

1.  “This is the Caps’ year!”  The Caps dominated all season, winning the President’s Trophy (best regular season record) and home-ice advantage for the playoffs.   Now they need to get down to business and refocus.  Haters gonna hate.  Many will point out that the Caps have never won the Stanley Cup, despite making it to the playoffs 8 out of the past 9 years.  On top of that, they have a tough match-up in the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers.  The teams split their meetings 2-2 in the regular season.

2.  “No seriously, this is the Caps’ year!”  Ignore the haters, this year could be different!  Caps goalie Braden Holtby is having a career season.  He tied the single-season record of 48-wins held by Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur and is favored to win the Vezina Trophy (best goalie).  On top of Holtby, the Caps also have their old reliable captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored a league-high 50 goals this season, making this his 7th 50-goal season.  Ovech-concern?  He’s been dealing with some lower body pain, so hopefully he can stay healthy all the way through the playoffs.  Who else should I know about?  Evgeny Kuznetsov who leads the team with 73 points this season and Niklas Backstrom who passed Ovechkin to become the Caps franchise-leader in assists.   

3.  “The Penguins are coming in hot.”  The Pittsburgh Penguins were the hottest team in the East at the end of the season thanks in large part to Sidney Crosby, who came roaring back from a tough start at the beginning of the season.  But it won’t be easy.  They meet the New York Rangers in the first round, a team that has eliminated them in each of the past 2 playoffs.  Both teams have been suffering from injuries, so it will be a tough matchup.

4.  “The Blackhawks are dangerous in the playoffs.”  The Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup in 3 of the last 6 seasons, including last year.  The gang’s all back this year, including star forward Patrick Kane who just won the Art Ross Trophy (most points in the regular season) and is the favorite for the Hart Trophy (player most valuable to his team).  Goalie Corey Crawford is also having one of the best seasons of his career.  So far so good… In the first round, the Blackhawks go up against the St. Louis Blues who have a history of early exits in the playoffs.

5.  “Is the West Coast the best coast?”  Both the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings are known for their size and physical play.  The Kings are the odds on favorites to make it out of the West, despite a really tough first round matchup against divisional rivals the San Jose Sharks.

6.  “The Stars should get off to a good start.”  The Dallas Stars are the top seed in the West and lead the league in goals scored this season thanks to the first line tandem of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, who are some of the best in the game. In the first round of the playoffs, they’ll play the Minnesota Wild, who squeaked into the playoffs and lost their last 5 regular season games.

7.  “Jaromir Jagr has played in the NHL for more years than he has remaining teeth.” At 44, Jagr is still the leading scorer for the Florida Panthers with 27 goals and 66 points.  The next oldest player in the league is 4 years younger.  The Panthers are a threat this year because of their impressive even-strength play and another great season from goalie Roberto Luongo.  But they will need to work on converting power-plays and improving their penalty kill, if they want Kevin Spacey to show up or fans to throw rats on the ice this playoffs! 

8.  “Will the Red Wings get their revenge?”  The Detroit Red Wings have made it to the playoffs for their 25th straight year—the longest active streak of any North American sport.  Let’s make it one to remember… Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk announced that this is likely to be his last season before he heads back to mother-Russia to spend more time with his family.  It will be a sad farewell for Datsyuk who has been a mainstay of the Red Wings team, including their championship wins in 2002 and 2008.  Will Lightning strike twice?  In the first round, they face the Tampa Bay Lightning, who eliminated the Red Wings in the opening round last year and made it all the way to the finals. This year the Lightning have been plagued with injuries, so the Red Wings may stand a better chance.

9.  “What a-boot Canada?”  When you think of hockey, you think Canada, right?  Not so much.  No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup in 23 years and this year is no different because no Canadian team has even made it to the playoffs. The last time the playoffs were Canada-free was back in 1970.