The 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs have provided a number of teams with a chance to change their past. The Sharks, Islanders, Panthers, and Capitals all have a shot at a redemption of sorts, but the road getting there won’t be easy.
The Sharks have gotten a chance to face bitter foe Los Angeles in the playoffs once again, and more importantly for the first time since the historic 2014 collapse. In that series, as we all know, the Sharks were up 3-0 before the Kings stormed back on their road to their second Stanley Cup in three years. The Sharks yet again are up 2-0 this year with a chance to make it 3-0 tonight.
Both rosters have changed and evolved since the 2014 bout, especially San Jose’s. Players like Joel Ward and Joonas Donskoi are new to the mix as well as head coach Peter DeBoer behind the bench.
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau don’t have much time left in the NHL unfortunately. The Sharks have a chance to do something special this year and erase the 2014 meltdown from memory and finally move on.
The Islanders and Panthers are two teams going head to head that have some disappointing history within their respective franchises. The Panthers haven’t won a playoff series since 1996, however they are outdone by the Islanders who haven’t won one since 1993. Both are young, hungry teams looking to make the leap to legitimate contenders.
Garth Snow and the Islanders are certainly closer to the threshold for change than the Panthers are, despite Dale Tallon’s trade deadline extravaganza. One team will undoubtedly go home empty handed and disappointed, but one will head back to their home city with a changed history.
The Capitals have some ugly history to vex also. They had the most points in the league again this year, a feat they also accomplished in 2009-2010 when the Montreal Canadiens eliminated them in round one. The Capitals have never won the Stanley Cup and have only advanced to the finals once in their history. That year, 1998, was also the last year the Capitals made it past the second round.
Ovechkin and company have their best chance at making a run at the Cup this year for the first time in far too long. The first step is getting to the third round, though.
Plenty of teams have the chance to re-write history in the first round (or beyond) this year. The playoffs are a new animal and there’s never any rhyme or rhythm with how things will shake out. The fate of these four teams can only and will only be decided on a game to game basis.