NHL Playoffs Begin with Blue Jackets Topping Tampa Bay Lightning

By Ian Dardani ‘22, Contributing Writer 

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The NHL Playoffs kicked off earlier this month with one of the most shocking upsets in recent history. The Tampa Bay Lightning soared into the playoffs after not only winning the Presidents Trophy for the league’s best regular season record but also breaking the NHL record for total points earned by a team in the regular season.  

11-year veteran Steven Stamkos surprised many by more than doubling his goal count with 45, while forward Nikita Kucherov lead the league in points with 128 and assists with 87. After securing the one seed in the Eastern Conference the Lightning seemed to be the top team in the league with no signs of slowing down. However, once the team (that many considered to be the favorite to win it all) entered the playoffs, the wheels came flying off. 

Despite winning 62 out of 82 games in the regular season, the Lightning failed to win even one in the playoffs. The Columbus Blue Jackets swept Tampa Bay 4-0 in the first round of 

the playoffs, winning by a combined margin of 19-8. Stamkos and Kucherov were both held pointless in the first three games and although both contributed for goals in game 4 them efforts were far too little and too late.

 The Blue Jackets absolutely dominated game 4, as they did the entire series, winning by a final score of 7-3 to send Tampa Bay home early. 

The upset came as a shocker to many, stunning analysts and fans who predicted the Lightning to make a deep run in the post season. Many are even calling the loss one of the worst post season meltdowns the league has ever seen. When asked about the overall success of the season coach Jon Cooper stated that, “you get judged in the end by how you play in the playoffs. Is it humbling? No question.” And while the Lightnings brupt end of the season has left the team and it organization stunned, it has left other hockey fans eager to see how whats to come.