The second round of the current playoffs finally came to an end last night, when the Winnipeg Jets took down the Nashville Predators in a Game 7 showdown, winning the do or die contest 5-1 to move on to the Western Conference Finals, where they will face off against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Jets still have a chance to do what no Canadian team has done since the Montreal Canadiens back in 1993 — win the Stanley Cup. The Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in 2011. The Ottawa Senators made the conference final last year. If we look back at just last season, you have to admit there is a shocking turn of events in this year’s post season.
As noted on social media by John Shannon of Hockey Central on Sportsnet, the look of this year’s final four in comparison to last spring’s is quite surprising. Shannon broke down where all the four active teams stood at the same time last season, and the difference is very impressive.
“The Final Four, a year ago...
Washington: Out after 2 Rounds. Tampa Bay: Missed the Playoffs.
Winnipeg: Missed the Playoffs.Vegas: Prepping for the Expansion Draft.”
Both the Lightning and the Jets missed the playoffs last year after difficult seasons. It is quite impressive to see both teams jump back into the game, and succeed as much as they have this year.
"It has been about franchise records and firsts, like 114 regular-season points (52-20-10), first-ever win in a Stanley Cup Playoff game (3-2 against the Minnesota Wild on April 11), first series win (in five games against Minnesota in the Western Conference First Round), first trip to the second round and now, with a 5-1 victory in Game 7 against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday, a first berth in the Western Conference Final," you can read about the Jets' impressive run on NHL.com.
Last spring, the Capitals lost to the eventual champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it was a much different outcome this time around. It is the first time since 1998 that the Caps make it to the Eastern Conference Finals - and that for just the third time in their history.
On top of that, the Knights have become the first expansion team since the 1967 St. Louis Blues to make the Stanley Cup semifinals. Vegas had been waiting for their next opponents since eliminating the San Jose Sharks in six games on Sunday.
The Jets will host the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday evening in Game 1 of the Western Conference final. The Eastern Conference final between the Lightning and Washington Capitals begins Friday night in Tampa.