It’s playoff season, and I have Spring fever.

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The sun is out, the grass is green, and the birds are chirping – oh wait, and its playoff season, what a time to be alive.

Time to spring into action, sports fans, because this is interesting month for hockey as well as basketball. With the NHL postseason set to start in yet just in a week or two, NBA teams are also fighting for their playoff lives.

With only one spot left in the western conference, looks like it is going down to a coin-flip with either the Arizona Coyotes or the Colorado Avalanche. The Coyotes need more help than the Avalanche; seeking a miracle through a win-out situation with their foe losing out as well.

It is something to be said that these two teams are still in the playoff race, with the course of several injuries to key players this season. Wonder what will happen these next two games.

Teams that have already made the playoffs, have intriguing first round match ups. The Las Vegas Golden Knights-San Jose Sharks series will be a dandy, as well as the Boston Bruins-Toronto Leafs matchup.

The Eastern conference has a bit more parody, with four teams looking on the outside in: The Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Montreal Canadians.

With just three spots remaining, which team will be left out? My prediction that the team will be left out of the playoff race will be Columbus, as far as the east goes.

There are so many talented teams this year in the NHL, it will be hard to say in my mind that the NBA could have the same parody.

Photo by Alvesgaspar [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2018 Stanley Cup Finals: From tragedy to triumph, a Las Vegas Story 

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The Golden Knights’ journey to the Stanley Cup Finals will be known as one the top Cinderella stories in all of sports, standing just four wins away from squashing the virtually impossible, 500-1 odds to win it all.

The Golden Knights have been fighting odds all season long, even before they stepped on the ice. Vegas’ first season with professional hockey was expected to be anything, but successful, for they were predicted to
be one of the worst the teams in the league.

Look at them now – the Golden Knights are in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Golden Knights’ incredible path to the Finals is something that has truly inspired Vegas. The aftershock of the Las Vegas music festival shooting last year was felt throughout the entire nation, giving the home town not much to hope for, until now.

Vegas’ unexpected success in the NHL, being a real underdog, really helped cast away some of the gloom after the catastrophe. The city of bright lights, is certainly shining bright again, but now is flashing “Stanley Cup Born.”

Their first playoff win at T-Mobile Arena looked like a scene out of a movie, seeing thousands of white towels being waved in unison and signs saying “Vegas Strong.” It was a powerful message that was felt throughout
the entire arena and the city of Las Vegas.

The Stanley Cup Finals will also preview another new face, for the Washington Capitals, are also making their first appearance in the championship.

The Capitals’ leader of the team, Alex Ovechkin, is one of the premier players in the league and he certainly will be the priority for the Golden Knights. Ovechkin has been having an incredible season, but so have these Golden Knights.

Vegas, in their inaugural season, has been one of the best teams in the entire NHL playing like a true team. They have swept the Los Angeles Kings, defeated a tough San Jose Sharks team, and the Winnipeg Jets on their trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Winning twice as many games as expected, 51 wins, also is certainly something that must be celebrated for this new team. The 2018 Stanley Cup Finals will certainly be one to remember.

Photo by David_Vasquez [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Golden Knights vs. Jets: Johnathan Marchessault silences Winnipeg in Game 2 win 

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After getting off to a rocky start to the Western Conference Final, Johnathan Marchessault redeemed himself with a stellar Game 2 performance.

Marchessault was the best player on the ice Monday night, he scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights bounced back from a Game 1 loss to take a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

Noting that there was lack of aggression in the opener, The Golden Knights forward turned in on quickly, following up Thomas Tartar’s ice-breaking goal with one of his own, capitalizing a Jets turnover to make it 2-0 in the first period. There’s more, though, as Marchessault quieted a Winnipeg crowd that looked alive after Kyle Connor’s third period goal with his second of the night just over a minute and a half later.

Marchessault had his footprints all over Game 2; ending up with 8 shots on goal, combining with William Karlsson and Reily Smith for five points in the win. He has just been on fire these playoffs – scoring 6 goals
and having over 9 assists.

“Definitely satisfied with our effort tonight,” Marchessault said at the post-game press conference, “every time we need a big game by our group, we show up.”

Vegas has yet to lose back-to-back games this postseason, showing the league that they are a resilient team.

These Golden Knights are having a season to remember, winning twice as many games as critics projected (51-24), reminding everyone that they belong in the NHL, and that their not just any other expansion team. Vegas keeps shattering expectations and looks to continue their historic playoff run, now that momentum is level with the series tied 1-1.

Photo by Michael Miller [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

2018 NHL Playoffs: The LA-Vegas Rivalry is born 

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Thousands of towels being waved in unison like it was Heinz Field, followed by an extreme ‘Game of Thrones-like’ intro, The Golden Knights’ first playoff game at T-Mobile Arena had Vegas written all over it.

The Knights’ unique, medieval pregame show was only fitting for their first year as an NHL franchise, and playoff appearance. Sparked by a sell-out crowd and their Vegas-like antics, the Knights were off and running with a 1-0 lead within the first few minutes of the game.

The playoff atmosphere was immediately apparent after seeing these teams break out in numerous scrums in front of the net, fighting for any inch to separate each other in just a one-possession game. Whether it was Vegas’ lavish presentation or the aurora created by T-Mobile Arena, you could feel the sense of hate from the Los Angeles Kings.

Game 1 looks like not only the beginning of a great series, but also the start of a new rivalry in the NHL.

Even though the Kings’ Jonathan Quick missed a key save early in the game, still both of the goalkeepers starred in this series opener. The Knights’ Marc-Andre Fleury put a whopping 30 – save shutout against the Kings, while Quick locked it down after the first score.

Vegas’ boost for the Knights was something special; their home advantage this playoff series cannot be ignored.

The Knights grabbed the momentum right out of the arena completely, and it immediately took it with them the first wing, making a major contribution to their win. The Kings began to settle in though, after Vegas had cooled down throughout the second period – creating great opportunities to tie, or perhaps win the game.

Will the Knights be aggressive early again in game 2? I have a feeling this could be a hell of a series.

Photo by Michael Miller [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Another dynasty in Pittsburgh: Penguins’ 4th Stanley Cup calls for greatness

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3rd time’s a charm, 4th time’s a dynasty; The Pittsburgh Penguins legitimized themselves Sunday as one the greatest NHL teams in history with capturing their fourth overall Stanley Cup title.

The Pittsburgh Penguins reiterated themselves as a legendary franchise history with yet another Stanley Cup title, and their historic win over the San Jose Sharks highlights there MVP as one of all-time greats in NHL history. It was only fitting that the team’s captain Sidney Crosby, took home the Conn Smythe Sunday night for his MVP effort these NHL playoffs.

Sidney Crosby assures himself as one the greatest to not only wear a Pittsburgh Penguin jersey, but one of the best players of NHL all-time.

ESPN’s hockey personalities Barry Melrose and Stan Levy, was first to interview the NHL star on winning his second Stanley Cup title in seven years.

“I think you appreciate it more, having gone through some of the things we did,” said Crosby. “Coming up short a few of times, when you’re in it back to back years, and while your young…you think it’s going to be an annual thing…and it’s not easy.”

Crosby, 28, is in the prime of in his career. The NHL All-Star’s recent Stanley Cup seamlessly adds to his legacy, and justifies himself as one of the greatest to NHL forwards of all time.

This a picture perfect scenario in Pittsburgh, for the team has a great opportunity to continue a potential dynasty.

After dealing with many questions on injuries, coaching changes, and scraping through just to make playoffs, Pittsburgh Penguins’ ceiling seems higher than ever. The future of the franchise seems to be in great hands with All-Star players like Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to surround there MVP.

This talented Penguin squad is extremely versatile; surrounded youth and veterans, the team could be a threat for years.

After winning his second title, and numerous amount of scoring goals, you could imagine Crosby could be mentioned with some of the greats, even Gretsky himself; for Crosby too is a scoring machine. Though he didn’t score in the Stanley Cup Finals, Crosby contributed to the team with four assists. The impact Crosby has for his team is similar to the influence Gretsky had for his Kings, Oilers, the inspiration is untimely and interchangeable.

Crosby had scored 36 goals this season, around his average; overall he has had a whopping 338 in his entire career. The impressive numbers Crosby possess in just his prime, is intimidating for opponents in the league.

It will be intriguing to see if the Pens can keep up their championship play next season, reflecting Crosby’s statement, “it is almost impossible to win every year in this league.”

I dedicate this blog to my old friend, the biggest Pittsburgh fan I know, Sean Smalstig. R.I.P.

Photo By Andy from Pittsburgh, United States (hoisting the cup) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons