Five Reasons Why The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs Have Been Extremely Unique


Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing with seven of the eight quarterfinal series having already come to a close. Let’s discuss why this year’s hockey playoffs have been fairly unique compared to recent NHL postseasons.

5.) No Canadian Teams

No Canada

In 2016, for the first time since the 1969-1970 season (when there were 12 total NHL teams), no Canadian teams qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With fans of the Flames, ‘Leafs, ‘Sens, Jets, Canucks, Oilers, and Habs all having an early summer, television ratings for Stanley Cup Playoff games up in Canada have dropped 60% from last season when four Canadian teams made the postseason (Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary). While the Detroit Red Wings do not play out of Canada, many of their fans live in Southern Ontario, and that may be the sole reason why the ratings for the games in Canada haven’t dropped off even worse, as CBC broadcasted all five of the Red Wings’ first-round games against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now that the Red Wings are out, it will be interesting to see what the ratings look like after the conference semifinals. 

4.) LA Kings/Chicago Blackhawks Are Out

Andrew Shaw

The Stanley Cup has traveled down Madison Ave and Hollywood Blvd in celebration parades due to either the LA Kings (twice) and Chicago Blackhawks (thrice) winning the last five Stanley Cups. This season, however, the Kings fell victim to a rare first-round exit at the hands of the rival-San Jose Sharks in five games, all while the Blackhawks also stunned their fans by losing in seven games to the St. Louis Blues (how did this puck not go in?). With the Kings and ‘Hawks both out early, the door has been opened for a new team to be crowned champion in 2016. The last time one of the remaining teams in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs took home the title was in 2009 when the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings in seven games. The last team to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup that wasn’t the Chicago Blackhawks or LA Kings? The 2011 Boston Bruins. With much of America/Canada being so used to watching the go through either LA or Chicago throughout the last half-decade, many people are going to need a new bandwagon to hop on (still a lot of room on the St. Louis Blues bandwagon, just saying). 

*VOTE FOR TARA!* 

3.) The Islanders And Blues Are In The Next Round

Islanders

Almost every fan of the St. Louis Blues was ready to hop in their car and drive to the nearest bridge once the Blackhawks came from not only 3-1 down in the series but 3-1 down in game six to force a seventh back in the Lou on Monday night. The Blues were finally able to get out of the first round thanks to Troy Brouwer’s late goal in game seven, and surviving what seemed like the longest sequence of hit posts in the history of hockey late in the game. The New York Islanders, meanwhile, were also able to win their first playoff series since 1993 when Jonathan Tavares scored the tying goal with 17 seconds remaining in game six to force overtime and then netted the series-clinching goal in the extra frame. The Isles and Notes have been known for their recent playoff failures and early-round exits, but this season it looks like both of these teams could be in for long runs into May and possibly into June. 

2.) The Sharks Are Actually Looking Really Good

Martin Jones

We’ve been over the fact that the St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders are known for their playoff implosions and inabilities to get it done when it counts, but no NHL team has been quite as good at fizzling and choking their way out of the postseason throughout their franchise’s entire existence as the San Jose Sharks. Just two seasons ago, the Sharks blew a 3-0 series lead to the LA Kings in the first round, and the Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup. In other recent postseasons, the Sharks have been able to win the President’s Trophy or get in as a No. 1 seed, yet were still unable to get out of the first round or make a deep run (San Jose has never been to a Stanley Cup Final). With the Sharks having such a tortured history in the postseason, it’s safe to say that no Sharks fan was happy to draw LA in the first round. However, San Jose surprisingly went into the City of Angels and took the first two games of the series, followed by a split back at the Shark Tank and a 6-3 series-clinching win on the road in LA. Credit much of the Sharks success in the first round to the stellar play of goaltender, Martin Jones, who was acquired from the Boston Bruins in an offseason trade. With Jones playing lights out, Joe Pavelski looking like a God, and Joe Thornton/Patrick Marleau playing like they are 10 years younger, could this finally be the year that the Sharks get the playoff monkey off of their back? Only time will tell, but right now, the Sharks are looking like a very dangerous team, something they haven’t really looked like in past postseasons.

1.) FIGHTS

Blood!

Mike Blunden

Line Brawls!

Brutal Cheapshots!

More Line Brawls!

Yes, playoff hockey is known for being extremely rough, and while the whole concept of fighting and roughhousing may not be new to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, this amount of it certainly is. It seemed like every game in the Detroit/Tampa series ended in some sort of melee and those who watched it were never left without entertainment with Brian Boyle’s chicken gestures, Justin Abdelkader’s barbaric punches, and Brad Richards’ stick chops. All of this fighting has easily been the most entertaining and unique part of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Photo Credits: NBCSN, Let’s Go DU (http://letsgodu.blogspot.com), FOX Sports-Midwest



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