NHL Week in Review (May 20-26)

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This was never really meant to happen as the cards were stacked against the only two remaining teams for the NHL season.

The Stanley Cup Finals are set and things are looking interesting for the final series to determine a champion.

This year’s finals are what makes sports so interesting because these teams came into the season with some serious doubts.

In Washington, the Capitals were not necessarily a team that nobody thought could make it here but there were doubts.

After all, in the era of Alexander Ovechkin, they had never been here despite the amount of talent they have had on their team.

The Caps have been one of the best teams over the last few years and yet every year they exit the playoffs earlier than expected.

So they came into the new season with some cautious optimism with a talented team that could win but a history that said that they couldn’t.

Through every round in the eastern conference, the Capitals were never the team that easily got through anyone.

They beat Columbus in six games and then faced their rivals, who had a tendency to eliminate them in the playoffs, in Pittsburgh.

That series ended in six games as well and then they had to take seven games to beat the Lightning to earn their spot.

It has been a struggle through the playoffs and it only led to more concern that they weren’t going to have it again.

Yet they continued to win and moved through every round with the possibility of a Stanley Cup berth getting more realistic as it has gone on.

That is where they sit right now, staring at their best chance to get a Stanley Cup in an era of hockey in Washington that always seemed to be worth a few titles.

In their way to grab that championship is a team that not one person ever thought would be here this late in the season.

The Vegas Golden Knights were the grand experiment for the NHL and for North American sports.

It is the first professional team in Las Vegas, soon be joined by the Raiders, and it is the one sport nobody thought would do all that well in the desert.

After all, the NHL had tried this type of environment before and that team is one of the consistently struggling teams in the league.

Still, the NHL went forward and looked to blaze a new trail when they approved their newest team in Vegas.hockey-sidebar

With that came a new version of the expansion draft meant to make them competitive from the start of their tenure in the league.

That new system to make them competitive worked better than anyone had anticipated though as they were not only competitive but one of the best teams in the league.

They shot up to the top of the Pacific division and were one of the first to clinch a playoff spot surprising everyone.

No expansion team in any of the major leagues had put together such a successful season but when the playoffs started there were doubts.

The playoffs are a different season and in the playoffs, experience means so much, which is something the Knights lacked.

They had a few key players that had been through it all before but in general, they were a team that lacked experience.

There was no way that a team thrown together in a single season could have success in the playoffs.

That was until they did and they announced their arrival in a big way when they swept a far more experienced team in the Los Angeles Kings.

They then took out another experienced team in San Jose over six games and continued to surprise when they beat Winnipeg in five.

Now the expansion team has a chance to win a title in their first year in the league putting a cap on what has been the most successful expansion season in all of North American sports.

Two teams are ready to face off for the ultimate prize in hockey and neither were thought to be locks for this position.

There were doubts along the way and now they have four wins between them and erasing all of the doubts.


Monster Extension

Evander Kane has been a somewhat controversial figure in the NHL over his still young career as he has been the centre of a few unfortunate social media posts. His big personality never seemed to fit into Winnipeg and when he posted pictures with stacks of money it never seemed to sit well with the Winnipeg fans. Eventually, that controversy led the Jets to trade him away but once again that personality never fit in Buffalo. He seems to have found a home after another trade to San Jose and that was made evident when the Sharks signed him to a 7-year $49-million contract which Kane gladly accepted stating that he can be himself as a member of the Sharks.

Another NCAA Transplant

The coaching roles are being filled quickly with teams finding their men as the season officially comes to a close. There has been a bit of a trend this year so far as well with the NCAA becoming a serious place for coaches to make the jump. The Dallas Stars announced that Denver’s Jim Montgomery would take over next year earlier in the month. Now the New York Rangers will look to their own NCAA bench boss as David Quinn will make the move from Boston University to New York. Depending on the success of these two men this year the NAA might take a different role for NHL teams needing a coach that can relate better to a younger group of players.

Quick Turnaround

 The Toronto Maple Leafs have been on the rise in recent years and they decided to make more changes in hopes to continue the rise. One of the big changes was parting ways with the old school Lou Lamoriello to promote a much younger Kyle Dubas. It is the way of professional sports as younger coaches and managers can relate better to a young group of players. Still, Lamoriello is not walking away as he was hired after only two weeks without a job. He will take over in New York for the Islanders as the President of Hockey Operations.


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