NHL Week in Review (April 16-22)

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The first round of the playoffs are winding down as the toughest time of the year continues on towards the Stanley Cup.

It has been an interesting road so far as the playoffs have seen a lot of surprises that not even the most informed analysts expected.

Teams that entered the playoffs with a lot of hype are struggling and teams that nobody thought could make a dent are fighting right until the end.

A lot of people were looking at the Chicago Blackhawks to see how far they would make it this year.

They have been one of the best teams in this decade and are constantly in the fight for the Stanley Cup.

The Blackhawks were in the playoffs again and for many, it was just a matter of showing up to their games against Nashville for them to move on.

It was never in doubt that the Blackhawks were going to move on but it was beyond that first round where the debate came in.

Then the Predators surprised everyone coming out and shutting down the Blackhawks easily in the first two games.

The Blackhawks couldn’t even score a goal in their first two games and the Preds jumped out to an early lead putting the old guard on the ropes very quickly.

Although Chicago tried to fight back in Game 3 they still couldn’t get the win and the Predators were on their way to a sweep.

The Blackhawks were out and they didn’t even come close, shocking a lot of people in the process.

It isn’t the only surprise of the first round though as the match-up between Pittsburgh and Columbus was a highly anticipated one.

The Penguins were the defending champions with the best player in the world and the Blue Jackets had taken the league by storm throughout the season.

They were playing great heading into the playoffs and it was expected that the series was going to be a tough one for both teams.

The Blue Jackets never seemed to be ready to compete with the defending champions though as it seemed like their inexperience in the playoffs really hurt them.

The Penguins went out to an early 3-0 lead in the series and despite one win from the Blue Jackets, they couldn’t complete the comeback ending their amazing season in five games.

What was supposed to be a great series turned out to be a display of just how good the Penguins are in the playoffs.

The two other surprises in the playoffs so far, have been from the teams that have been talked about a lot as they made the playoffs.

The Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs were supposed to be the two teams just happy to be there.

They are both young and reaching the turning point of their franchises that have undergone rebuilding years.

Making the playoffs was ahead of schedule this year for both teams so when they went into the second season it was expected that they would be eliminated by two teams with much more experience.

That hasn’t been the case though as the Leafs have fought every game and stayed into the series against the President’s Trophy-winning Capitals.

The Leafs have actually had the lead in the series and are heading into Game 6 hoping to extend this series to seven games and continue their surprise.

If they can beat the Caps in the next two games it will be a shock for the league as the top team in the regular season would have been eliminated by the last team in the playoffs.

The Oilers have had a good playoffs too and against a team that was in the Stanley Cup finals a year ago.

The Sharks have not been able to shut them down too often and heading into Saturday the Oilers were looking to end the Sharks’ run.

In Game 6 the Oilers took care of business as they went ahead 2-0 and never looked back as they took their final win.

Edmonton will now head to the second round with their young team where the Anaheim Ducks await them.

The Oilers have the makings of a great run in them but they are young and the Ducks are a great team that won’t bend over for them.

Edmonton might go deep but they also might find their limit in the second round as there is not much expected from them with their first round already an achievement.

It will be interesting to see how far both the Oilers and the Leafs can go and if they can continue to surprise the league.

It will only make for more interesting games and series as the pursuit of the Stanley Cup continues.



Changes in Buffalo

Only days after it was reported that Jack Eichel told the Sabres he would not re-sign after his rookie contract if Dan Bylsma was still the head coach the team made some changes. They fired head coach Bylsma and GM Tim Murray as they head into a new path for their rebuild. Owner Terry Pegula has already stated that he will be looking for an established pair to try to get the team back to the playoffs.

Wideman Lawsuit

In January 2016, Calgary forward Dennis Wideman made a terrible move when he looked to hit an official as he was changing. That act cost him 10 games as he was suspended for what looked like a purposeful hit against the linesman. Things might only be getting worse though as that official that was injured in the collision is now launching a $10.5 million lawsuit against Wideman claiming that he owes him for his missed work.

The Awards Battle

The NHL announced a number of award finalists leading to only more debate about the potential winners. In the rookie race, most have it down to Patrik Laine against Auston Matthews in an interesting battle. The Norris Trophy will be even more interesting as Brent Burns, Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson all have a good case. In the Vezina race is another good one with Sergei Bobrovsky, Braden Holtby and Carey Price all looking for the honour.

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