From Going Down in History to Lost in History: 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff Upsets

Four out of eight teams remaining in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs have the opportunity to win the team’s first-ever Stanley Cup.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Four out of eight teams remaining in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs have the opportunity to win the team’s first-ever Stanley Cup.

Manan Mendiratta, Contributing Writer

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The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been one of the most anticipated postseasons in the National Hockey League’s 102-year history. Fans expected a few dominant regular season teams to thrive in the playoffs. Instead, the four division champions in the NHL have been eliminated by wildcard matchups in the first round of the postseason.

This season was historic for the Tampa Bay Lighting. With 62 wins and 128 points, they tied the 1995 – 1996 Detroit Red Wings team for most wins in a single season. Playing the Columbus Blue Jackets, a wildcard team who had only squeaked into the playoffs, the Lightning were favored to beat the eight seed team and cruised to the second round.

The Blue Jackets bested the Lightning in a 4-0 series sweep. The Blue Jackets were the first team in NHL history to sweep the regular season champions in round one.

Although the Lightning’s poor playoff efforts can be attributed to the loss, there is a clear pattern throughout the league.

The Washington Capitals, the Metropolitan division champions and 2018 Stanley Cup champions, lost in the first round to the Carolina Hurricanes in a seven-game series.

In the western conference, the Nashville Predators lost to the Dallas Stars in a six-game series, while the Colorado Avalanche outplayed the Calgary Flames in a short five-game series.

Lackluster performance by star players in key situations contributed to the upsets. The point leader on the Lightning and the league, Nikita Kucherov, only earned two points in the playoffs, and Penguins captain, Sidney Crosby, only scored one point in his four games. A community favorite for goaltender of the year, Andrei Vasilevskiy, allowed over 3.8 goals per game, according to NHL.com.

These unexpected events are sure to make the second round even more exciting. Even non-hockey fans cannot help but root for the underdogs in the 2019 NHL postseason.