NHL conference finals are one for the ages

The+NHL+has+announced+its+32nd+franchise%2C+with+Seattle+being+unanimously+voted+in+by+the+board+of+governors+and+set+to+start+their+first+season+in+2021-2022.

Photo via Wikipedia

The NHL has announced its 32nd franchise, with Seattle being unanimously voted in by the board of governors and set to start their first season in 2021-2022.

Nathan Breisinger, Multimedia Editor

This year’s edition of the NHL playoffs has been one for the ages: numerous upsets, high-scoring games, and plenty of overtimes.

The teams that remain include the Boston Bruins, who will take on the Carolina Hurricanes, and the the St. Louis Blues, who will face the San Jose Sharks.

In the East, the Carolina Hurricanes have been the Cinderella story thus far. After defeating the defending champions, the Washington Capitals, in a Game 7 overtime, they easily defeated the New York Islanders in four games.

After a 10-year playoff drought, the Hurricanes have surprised many, but they have been carried by their veteran leadership. Jordan Staal and Justin Williams have stepped up in the biggest moments and have propelled the Canes to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Also, the Hurricanes’ goaltending tandem has been impressive, as Petr Mrazek came up big against the Capitals, including getting one shutout. For anyone to take down the offensive juggernaut that the Caps possess, it has to take a serious defensive and goaltending effort, and Mrazek provided just that.

Backup goalie Curtis McElhinney stepped up in the second round as Mrazek suffered an injury. McElhinney made timely saves to stop a red-hot Islanders squad.

As for the Hurricanes’ opponent, the Boston Bruins once again worked their first-round magic and defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games.

Tuukka Rask has been the beast goaltender so far in the playoffs and also helped the Bruins in taking down the Columbus Blue Jackets, who swept the best team in the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In their matchup with the Canes, the Bruins will look for their top line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand to deliver in the key moments.

This series will be a rematch of the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals, when the Hurricanes beat the Bruins. Only Justin Williams remains from the Hurricanes team.

This matchup will easily provide some exciting goaltending and defensive matchups. It will come down to the more experienced group.

In the Western Conference Finals, the San Jose Sharks will take on the St. Louis Blues.

Both teams went to a Game 7 in the Western Conference semifinals.

As for the Blues, in January they were sitting at the bottom of the NHL standings, but thanks to a resurgence and outstanding play from rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington, they have found themselves deep in the playoffs.

The Blues have fought back and forth in their first two series, but have found timely goals from players to advance.

The San Jose Sharks, however, have found their offense from the defensive play. Star defenders like Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have not only led them on defense but have had their fair share of goals. Burns has led the defense with five goals.

The Sharks also have plenty of big-time forwards, including Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Joe Pavelski. Not only do these player add big-time playmaking, but they also have experience due to their Stanley Cup Finals run in 2016.

Both the Sharks and the Blues look to win their first-ever Stanley Cup.

Overall, this round of the NHL playoffs seems likely to deliver more overtime games, great goaltending, and tremendous offensive play than the first two rounds has already provided.