Justin Baltes and Conall Fisher – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)-The first round of the NHL playoffs has come to a close, with numerous upsets and surprising victories.

The Toronto Maple Leafs advanced to face the Panthers after besting the Tampa Bay Lightning in a thrilling first round series, which saw the Leafs end their playoff drought of not winning a playoff series in over 15 plus years.

This is the first time in three years that the Stanley Cup finals will not feature the Lightning representing the eastern conference. LRHS sophomore Dominick Kerman said, “The Lightning series loss is crushing, especially to lose to a team that hasn’t won a playoff series in over 15 plus years.”

Meanwhile, Florida’s other team, the Panthers, started off round two strong, with a 4-2 win over the Leafs on Monday. The Panthers Eliminated the Boston Bruins last week in one of the biggest playoff upsets of the decade. The Bruins had an amazing season, racking up 135 points, but they were not able to bring that success to the playoffs and lost in a 7-game series.

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Elsewhere in the NHL the New Jersey Devils face the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes and Devils were neck and neck for who would place first in the metropolitan division during the regular season.

The Devils had good goaltending and defense in the first round but will need to be able to bring more pressure to their game if they want to beat the Hurricanes and advance to the semifinals.

The Vegas Golden Knights play The Edmonton Oilers in their second-round matchup. After beating the Los Angeles Kings in a six-game series, Edmonton’s star studded trio of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hope their core can outshine the Vegas offense and win a shootout series.

The Seattle Kraken, in the NHL only two years,  started the playoffs beating  the reigning champion Colorado Avalanche. The Kraken now are moving on to play the Dallas Stars after their unlikely first round win.

In the last series of the first round series the Stars faced off against the Minnesota Wild. The Stars’ young players gave a preview of what is possibly to come for the future, as Dallas beat the Wild in a six-game series.

With the first round over many Mustangs look forward to the second round. Sophomore Jacob Smith said, “I’m excited to see the next round of playoff hockey.”