Winners and losers of the NHL Playoffs

A weekly sports column from the 100 Mile Free Press

The Stanely Cup is coming to a close, with either St. Louis Blues or the Boston Bruins coming away with a title (possibly as soon as June 9). So ignoring the ultimate winner, here are the winners and losers of the 2018-19 playoffs.

LOSERS

Calgary Flames

They were the top seeds in the Western Conference, yet failed to pass the first round losing to wildcard Colorado. What makes it worse is that the Flames boasted five players with 70 points in the regular season, but it was all for nought when it came to the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins

One was a President Trophy winner, the other was the third seed in the Metropolitan Division but in the playoffs, you couldn’t tell the difference. Both were swept in the first round, Tampa by Columbus and Pittsburgh by the New York Islanders. It’s always embarrassing to see a team with 60-something wins in the regular season not notch a single playoff win and a team that boasts two of the most talented active players and the NHL’s current flagship franchise fall apart at the seams.

Nazim Kadri

He really let down his team and Toronto fans this April. He’s an important figure for the franchise but he let his anger get the best of him during the second game against the Bruins. A vicious cross-check to Jake DeBrusk led to a suspension for the rest of the series. While the series went down to the wire, ultimately the Leafs lost out, missing Kardi’s physicality and offensive talents. It will be surprising if he’s not traded in the off-season.

WINNERS

Carolina Hurricanes

Even though they failed to advance to the finals, they beat everyone but Boston. They beat southern rivals and title holders, Washington Capitals, the New York Islanders and Don Cherry. They proved every critic wrong. They entered the playoffs as a wildcard and ended up being one of the four teams left in the race. They will definitely expand on this.

Brad Marchand

Yeah, he’s not a popular guy but he’s effective. No player like him can get under the skin of opponents and to boot, he oozes offensive talent. As of June 5, Marchand has 21 playoff points and if he continues this, he could be in the running for the Conn Smythe Trophy if the Bruins win (though Tuukka Rask might have something to say about this).

NHL

Yup, the NHL is probably the biggest winner of the playoffs this year. Not only did NBC report the first round of the playoffs had its highest cable viewership since 1994 and the highest overall ratings since 2012, but Game 7 of the Capitals/Hurricanes series was also the most-watched first round game on cable since 2000. Added to that, with the Hurricanes beating Washinton, it proves that the NHL is on to something with parity. It’s the first time since 2012, that none of the previous season’s conference finalists made it the second round.


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