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Like many hockey fans right now, I am enjoying playoff hockey with the 2017 NHL Playoffs. It is one of the most exciting times of the year, as the top teams around the NHL fight for the coveted Stanley Cup.
One week into the 2017 NHL Playoffs, there have already been some exciting moments and some shocking developments. There are a few things that have happened that I did not see coming.
What are the most shocking and exciting moments so far? Here are some of the things that have jumped out to me:
CHICAGO AND MINNESOTA ARE DOWN 0-3 IN THEIR SERIES
The two Western Conference favorites are in huge holes in their respective series. Chicago is down 0-3 to Nashville, while Minnesota is down 0-3 to St. Louis. Both clubs were heavily favored as Stanley Cup contenders and both could be out in the first round.
Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne shut out the Blackhawks twice in Chicago to open the series. Rinne has certainly played at an extremely high level in this series.
Blues goaltender Jake Allen has had a career resurgence in the playoffs. Allen was benched for poor play in various games during the regular season, but he has stepped his game up in the playoffs. Allen has only given up 3 goals in 3 games versus the Wild.
With Chicago and Minnesota possibly losing in the first round, it opens the door for the rest of the Western Conference to make the Stanley Cup Final. Will the Sharks be the team that returns to the Stanley Cup Final? Will it be a new team like St. Louis or Nashville?
THE CAPITALS ARE STRUGGLING VERSUS THE CONFIDENT LEAFS
The Presidents’ Trophy winners are having a tough time in their series versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. Most hockey fans and analysts believed the Capitals would steamroll through the Leafs in the first round, but the Leafs lead the series 2-1.
It appears that the Capitals may have taken the Maple Leafs lightly, as they have not been totally focused in the series. Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock has found a way to motivate his young players and give them confidence against a stacked Washington club. The Capitals collapsed in Game 3 after they did not convert a 2-minute 5-on-3 advantage in the second period. Game 4 is a must win for the Capitals if they want to re-capture any kind of momentum in the series.
PITTSBURGH IS DOMINATING COLUMBUS
This series has surprised me a little bit. Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who will likely be the Vezina Trophy front runner, has gone cold against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has not been very good in the series, as he has given up some goals that he would like to have back. The Jackets have a big hole to climb out of as they are down 3-1. If the Jackets want any chance to come back into this series, Bobrovsky must return to regular season form.
INCONSISTENCY WITH OFFICIATING
There have been a lot of things that have been thrown out the window in the playoffs. Cross-checks and hits to the head are happening at an all-time high with no repercussions. Players and coaches are becoming frustrated with infractions because they do not know what will be called, and what will not be called.
The Boston Bruins fell victim to the inconsistent officiating, and it arguably cost them Game 3 versus Ottawa. Here is a video of the incident:
Even Pierre McGuire is animated about the inconsistent officiating on the ice.
By: George Foussekis