The NHL has now been back for over a week and it has been glorious. There have already been a few shocking occurrences that nobody could have seen coming.
Why not us?
The Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens, both slotted as lowly 12th seeds, are on to the playoffs. The 2 highest-seeded teams in the tournament, the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins, will both have to enjoy the NHL playoffs from their couches.
Transcendent superstars Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby did not reach the 2020 postseason. (That just does not look right.)
Stealing the crown
It has been the lower seeds time to shine. The Philadelphia Flyers and Vegas Golden Knights leap-frogged into the first seeds in their respective conferences.
The Flyers beat on the Presidents Trophy-winning Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, and Tampa Bay Lightning. Philly outscored the 3 East juggernauts 11-3 to finish undefeated in the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Knights lambasted the Dallas Stars, defending champion St. Louis Blues, and Colorado Avalanche. Vegas tallied 15 lamp-lighters in their 3 victories.
The mighty have fallen
The other side of that coin is the Bruins and Blues, both 1 seeds, have yet to win a game in the Round Robin. Boston and St. Louis’ combined goal differential is nearly 2 goals allowed for every 1 score. Neither 1 seed can finish higher than 3rd.
Wait, how is there more?
There has been a flurry of fights, fines, and finishes. Not to mention, day one of the NHL’s re-start had yet to conclude before the controversy began to fester.
The Winnipeg Jets lost their star Mark Scheifele for the series after Calgary Flames Matthew Tkachuk hit him into the boards. Jets head coach Paul Maurice called the hit “absolutely filthy and disgusting.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs, while playing in their home arena, have had their absolute hands full dealing with those pesky Columbus Blue Jackets. Toronto was able to stave off elimination with a 3 goal in 4 minutes 3rd-period explosion. Sunday night, the only series to take it the distance will be decided.
This sport, unlike any other, was made for tournaments and chaos-filled atmospheres like this. The constant barrage of heart-stopping action on a nearly all-day schedule is a hockey fan’s dream.
If the postseason is anything like the Play-in Tournament and Round Robin, NHL fans are in for a hell of a treat.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones