The NHL season for 2016/17 came to an end recently, following an exciting post-season play-off that culminated in a marvellous – if occasionally controversial – Stanley Cup final. In this article we will take a look back at these play-offs, examining the high points, low points and which sides emerged triumphant from the season.
Most of the big names in the NHL – including defending Stanley Cup holders the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Ottawa Senators and the Anaheim Ducks – made it into the play-offs. There were also two wild card entries, four wild card entries, one of whom would go on to make a major impact. The presence of the Nashville Predators as one of these was the big surprise, as they are hardly regulars in the NHL play-offs, and their crushing clean sweep of wins in the first round against the fancied Blackhawks made everyone sit up and take notice of them. With other results going much as expected, this was the major event of the early play-off round. They subsequently built on this by defeating the St Louis Blues in the second round, by a score of 4-2, to secure their first ever appearance at the Conference Finals stage. They were pitted against the Anaheim Ducks in this round, with hot favourites the Pittsburgh Penguins facing off against the Ottawa Senators in the other tie. Most pundits predicted a win for the Penguins in their series, largely due to the side’s lethal attacking players Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel – which they felt the Senators lacked both the strength in depth and experience to match. They proved to be correct in this assessment, as the Penguins marched on into a second successive Stanley Cup Finals, but the final score of 4-3 showed that it was closer than many expected. Pundits also favoured the Predators to continue their fairytale run – due to a stronger defence than their opponents, coupled with high goal scoring ratio.
Again, they were on the money, as Nashville reached the finals with a 4-2 series win. The Stanley Cup series proved engrossing, as the Penguins raced into a 3-0 lead, with the Predators seemingly overawed by what was at stake, before they suddenly regained their form to win three on the bounce and level the scores. A 0-6 defeat in game five was a huge setback, before the last game brought controversy. At a crucial point in this match, Colton Sissons appeared to have scored for Nashville – only for the referee to wrongly disallow the goal having been unsighted at the time. It was a massive blow to the Predators’ hopes of producing an upset, and the Penguins went on to score twice – retaining the Stanley Cup with a 4-2 overall series win.
If you were not quick enough of the mark to get a bet on them to win this trophy, you can always make up for it by spending the close season playing an ice hockey themed slot like Hockey Hero amongst other themed slot games mentioned in Ruby Fortune review while you wait for the new season to start.