Western Courier

All four No. 1 seeds defeated in the first round

Christopher Bean, Assistant Sports Editor

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The 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs have been nothing short of spectacular. We are only through two games in the second round, but every series in the first round had its own significant value. For the first time in NHL history, all four number No. 1 seeds lost in the first round.

This was the first time ever that all four No. 1 seeds have lost in the first round since the playoff format changed back in 2014. The President Trophy winners, the Tampa Bay Lighting, were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in four games. The first time ever a President Trophy winner has been swept in the first round. The Lighting are the 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors that won 73 games in the regular season but couldn’t reach their goal of winning the NBA title. Tampa Bay won 62 regular season games tying the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings as the most wins in the regular-season. But just like the Red Wings failed to do, the Tampa Bay Lighting couldn’t win “Lord Stanley.” As a matter of fact, they couldn’t even win one game. This was not the only shocking outcome that occurred in the first round. Like I mentioned before, there were three other No. l seeds to go down in the first round: The Washington Capitals, The Calgary Flames and the Nashville Predators. Let’s look at how every No. 1 seed got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.

Let’s stick with the Tampa Bay Lighting losing in four games against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Taking nothing away from the Blue Jackets, but the Lighting getting swept is a bigger collapse than the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cavilers in the 2016 NBA Finals. At least the Warriors got to the Finals. The Lighting got swept to a team who had 30 fewer points than them. Like I mentioned before, Tampa Bay won 62 regular season games and also earned 128 points. At the end of the day, I’m not shocked that Tampa didn’t win the Cup, because they became the sixth No. 1-seed in my life time to lose in the first round or what used to be called the Conference Quarterfinals. And in that time the President Trophy winner has only won “Lord Stanley” four times. But it still hasn’t sunk in how crazy it happened, and I think it’s very comparable when the UMBC Golden Retrievers became the first ever No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed against the Virginia Cavaliers.

The Lighting could not have gotten off to a better start in game one. They took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission after three separate players scored. Then just before the halfway point in the second period, Nick Foligno scored the Blue Jackets first goal, pulling them within two. Tampa Bay still held a two-goal lead into the third period. Then almost 20 minutes after Foligno’s goal, David Savard answered his teammates goal with one of his own. Four minutes later, Josh Anderson scored the equalizer, quieting the Lighting crowd. The score stayed tied until Seth Jones scored the game winning goal with less than six minutes remaining. The Blue Jackets didn’t look back and took all their momentum from game one and won three more games in-a-row. After trailing 3-0 in game one, the Jackets outscored the Lighting 19-5. For the best offensive team to be limited to five goals in 11 periods was unbelievable. Superstars Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos combined for 226 points in the regular season, they only combined for four points in the series. Kucherov was limited to three games because he was suspended for game three after an illegal hit in game two. The Blue Jackets journey continues in the Second Round. They are currently tied with the Boston Bruins 1-1, after both games in Boston ended in overtime with the winner winning 3-2. Boston took game one in OT, and the Blue Jackets took game two to double OT. Game three is tomorrow at 6 p.m.

The other No. 1 seed in the East were the defending champs, the Washington Capitals. They ended the season with 104 points, and were five points better than their opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes. The series started off well for the Caps, protecting their home ice, winning 4-2 and 4-3 in the first two games. The series shifted to Carolina, and the Hurricanes responded with a 5-0 win in game three. They answered with another win in game four, 2-1. The Hurricane defense limited the Caps to only one goal in games three and four. The Caps looked to get back on track after scoring eight goals in the first two games. The Caps came out hungry to score and defeated the Hurricanes 6-0 to take a 3-2 series lead. Superstar and Captain Alex Ovechkin scored three points in the victory and nine in the series. The Hurricanes continued the trend of the home team winning every game with a 5-2 victory forcing a game seven last Wednesday. The Capitals got off to a hot start, outscoring the Canes 2-0 in the period. But the Canes outscored the Caps 2-1 in the second period to pull within one goal heading into the last period of regulation. Jordan Staal scored three minutes into the third to tie the game at three in game seven. Neither team scored in the final 17 minutes, forcing OT. Again, neither team could score in the first OT, so we went to the second. Brock McGinn, who only scored 10 goals in the regular season, scored his second goal of the series and stunned the defending champs on their home ice. The Caps failed to repeat and went home earlier than expected. The Hurricanes are currently playing the New York Islanders in the second round.

The Calgary Flames were the No. 1-seed in the West and went up against the second wild card, the Colorado Avalanche. The Flames were the best team in the West with 107 points and won the Pacific division. The Avalanche snook in with 90 points. Like the other two series, the No. 1-seed dominated the first game. The Flames scored two in the last two periods to win 4-0 in game one. The Av’s played much better in game two and won 3-2 in OT to take home ice advantage. They took care of home ice in game three with a 6-2 blowout win and won game 4 in OT to take a 3-1 series lead. They carried their momentum on the road and easily defeated he Flames 5-1 in game five. Mikko Rantanen was fantastic scoring five goals in the last three games, including the ot winner in game four. He was also the first star in games four and five. The Av’s defense did a great job of limiting Johnny Gaudreau who only scored 99 points in the regular season but shut him down to only one point in five games. The Avalanche are currently playing the San Jose Sharks in the second round.

The No. 1 seed in the Central were the Nashville Predators. They secured 100 points and won their division by one point. They went up against the first wild card, the Dallas Stars. The Stars scored three goals in-a-row after the Preds went up 1-0. They held on for a 3-2 victory to take a 1-0 series on the road. The Preds would held onto win in ot to tie the series at one heading to Dallas. Just like the Stars did, the Predators won their first game on the road to take a 2-1 series win.The Stars offense came alive in the next two games and scored five goals in each game to take a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 was in Dallas, and the Stars got the best of the Preds 2-1 in ot to send Nashville home for good. Dallas is currently tied 1-1 with the St. Louis Blues. Game three is tonight at 7 p..m.

To put into perspective on how hstorical the First Round was, only one 8-seed in the history of the NBA playoffs have defeated a No. 1 seed. Four No. 1 seeds lost this potseason, and one team was the best regular seson team of all time. But it goes to show you how tough it is to win in the NHL Playoffs. That is why they are entertaining and it makes it that much more fun to watch. Anyone can win on any given night. In the NHL, the pressure is on the home team in game seven. Dont believe me? Just ask the defending champs about. Will we see another low seed win it all like the LA Kings did in 2012? Only time will tell.

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All four No. 1 seeds defeated in the first round