Stanley Cup Playoffs move forward to second round

Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks look to advance past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks look to advance past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

16 teams entered the Stanley Cup playoffs, now only eight teams remain as the second round began on Thursday April 30th.

The Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, and Calgary Flames are the teams who progress out of the first round and will represent the Western Conference in the second round.

The  New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Montreal Canadiens, and Tampa Bay Lightning escaped first round exits and will represent the Eastern Conference.

For the third year in a row, after claiming that it was their year to win the Stanley Cup, the St. Louis Blues were unable to make it out of the first round as they were eliminated by the Minnesota Wild on April 26th in game six.

After an intense game seven on Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning advanced to the second round to face the Montreal Canadiens. The Lightning were on the end of a winning series even though they never led in the series; they always trailed the Red Wings by a game to then tie it up.

After a very rocky start for Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford in the first round, his coach gave him the starting position to begin the series against the Minnesota Wild. Coach Joel Quenneville released this statement on making Crawford the starting goalie to start the series, “Great response in a very important game for us and all of a sudden it was a tight game and the game was on the line. He did everything he could and it was a great win for him and for us. It’s his net. Let’s go.”

The second round began on Thursday April 30th. The New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals opened the night, followed by the Anaheim Ducks taking on the Calgary Flames.

On Friday the Chicago Blackhawks opened their series against the Minnesota Wild as did the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Wild have been improving and are becoming a tougher opponent for the Hawks for the past three seasons. To put the Hawks in a tougher spot, the Wild just eliminated their rivals the St. Louis Blues; proving they are a team to reckon with. But Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews believes they can get past the Wild: “We’ve done it against good goaltenders before so there’s no reason we can’t do it again. It’s in our control,” said Toews to reporters.

After the first round experienced two series going to a game seven, four series going to six games, one going to five, and another only needing four games, fans realize this year’s playoffs are going to be a nail bitter till the end.

“I would say that I’m pleasantly surprised that the Hawks are still in the run for the cup and I think they have a decent shot at beating the Wild,” said Noah Mclaughlin, junior at Normal West, “but I would also say that I was surprised that most of the first round series were over so quickly. I would choose either the Hawks, Canadiens, or the Flames to win the cup, but it should be an interesting playoff race.”

The end of a shocking yet suspenseful first round left many fans to dispose of their brackets, while others are still going strong. Fans with brackets still in play sit and wait to see if theirs is the one as the Stanley Cup playoffs continue on through the second round.