NHL Week in Review (May 14-20)

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The NHL and NBA playoffs run side by side every year but they could not be any more different than they are this year.

Both leagues have a lot of similarities as they are huge in certain parts of North America and not as big as the MLB or the NFL in other parts.

They run at the same time and often compete head to head for ratings, despite the fact that they appeal to two very different groups of fans.

As the playoff season begins for both of these leagues see the same level of intensity from the majority of fans as the second season gives everything higher stakes.

There are parallels as both sports are seeing dominant teams taking on underdogs for the right to play in the finals.

The big difference is that in the NBA those dominant teams are truly dominant teams that not many can figure out.

Cleveland and Golden State are on a collision course in the NBA and nothing is stopping them as they have yet to lose a game in the playoffs this year.

For most paying attention to the NBA, it is making for a somewhat boring until the actual final series where the two best teams should put on a great fight for the championship.

In the NHL the two dominant teams in the final are not necessarily the most dominant teams as they have still had to fight their way to the conference finals.

The underdogs aren’t necessarily terrible teams either, as they have their stars and have earned their spots in the conference finals.

The differences have also continued as the series have continued on as the NBA is happening exactly as everyone thought they would, Cleveland and Golden State are leading their series convincingly.

In the NHL the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks have been playing catch up the entire series while both Ottawa and Nashville have been leading the series the entire time.

The dominant teams that are used to their time in the playoffs are not playing as dominant as they have been in the past.

Meanwhile, the underdogs are taking full advantage of their chance to move into the Stanley Cup Finals and potentially take their first Cup.

The underdogs are doing it in very different ways but both ways are giving the teams that everyone expected to move on a lot of problems.

In the east, it has been the Senators and their system from their new head coach Guy Boucher that has helped them frustrate the Penguins.

Boucher has done it before as his modified trap system helped the Tampa Bay Lightning make runs at the Stanley Cup in 2011.

It isn’t necessarily the most exciting way to play the game but it is an effective way to win games and the Senators have taken that style of play to two wins against the defending champions.

It has been a style that has frustrated Sidney Crosby and kept the superstar from having a major impact in the series.hockey-sidebar

In the west, the Predators are having a great year largely due to the performance of one of the best goalies in the league.

Pekka Rinne has always been one of the best goalies in the league but for the Preds he was always the only reason they could do anything in the playoffs.

There wasn’t a lot around him to help him out though and he could only bring them so far before he started to show signs of wear.

He has done the same this year but the team is better this time around with players like PK Subban making a difference.

They are giving the Ducks everything they have to take the wins they need as they have never trailed in the series.

The underdogs are having a good time in the conference finals but they are certainly not running away with things.

The two more dominant teams in both series are considered two of the best for a reason and no matter who they were facing they were going to fight.

As good as the Senators and Predators have been they are still fighting an uphill battle against teams that know how to win the big games.

It is a better fight than some thought and compared to what is happening in other leagues it is showing exactly how good the NHL is right now.

The underdogs truly have a chance and the dominant teams aren’t truly that dominant which gives more teams more chances to get to the top.

It might not work out and two teams with a Stanley Cup already may have their chance at earning another.

There are still games to be played and any combination for the Finals is still possible as neither series is over yet.

 

Overtime

The Feeder for the Dessert

The Vegas Golden Knights continue to prepare for their first season as the expansion draft is coming up and they continue to scout and try to find the players to add to their team. Their latest step is the signing of a deal with the Chicago Wolves as their AHL affiliate. That signing also a strange one as the Wolves have been the affiliate of St. Louis for years and the Blues are now left without an official affiliate.

Step Backwards

The Nashville Predators are having a great time in the playoffs hoping to find their way to their first Stanley Cup Finals. Things got tougher for them this week though as they lost Ryan Johansen for the rest of their playoff run. Johansen has been the top scorer for the Preds in the playoffs and they are now going to have to figure out how to win without him.

Shuffling the Goalies

 It is one of, if not the most important position for any team in the playoffs as the goalie can make all of the difference. Finding the goalie that can do everything that a team needs, is a tough thing to do though and like in years before the Pittsburgh Penguins are figuring that out quickly. They are currently juggling Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray hoping one can make the difference.

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