After reviewing those that didn’t meet their season’s expectations we get to those that have. A couple of them are playing in the next round and although not the favourites, they still have a chance to shine and possibly win their respective series. In no particular order, let’s take a look at the Class of Hockey in Canada 2017.
With what seems like over a dozen Number 1 picks recently, the Edmonton Oilers making the playoffs should be more of a “well, it’s about time” rather than meeting or surpassing expectations. The Oilers however, didn’t just make the playoffs, they also won their first round. And the Oilers didn’t beat just any opponent either, it was the San Jose Sharks, last year’s finalists. Those points in and by themselves are quite positive, but they are not the main reason why this Edmonton team has surpassed expectations. Prior to the playoffs most people thought (and they would have been correct) that for the Oilers to succeed Connor McDavid, the Art Ross winner, would have to be play like… well, Connor McDavid. He didn’t.
Now McDavid didn’t play bad, far from it, but he wasn’t the dominating player who led the league in scoring either. This is good news for the Oilers as it not only proves this isn’t a one man team, but they will be even better once he is back to his normal self. Therefore there is plenty of optimism surrounding this Oilers and fans from the City of Champions should be satiated even if they bow out in round 2.
There are a number of teams around the NHL that you just simply hate if you are a Maple Leafs fan. The Montreal Canadiens, the Boston Bruins, the Buffalo Sabres and of course, the Ottawa Senators. But considering the kind of year that this team has gone through, and the success they have found along the way, it has become difficult not to be happy for what they are accomplishing. The fact that it was the Boston Bruins they defeated in six games certainly makes it easier, but it does go further than just that.
Erik Karlsson has been playing brilliantly even with two fractures in his foot as we found out recently. Clarke MacArthur had the series winning goal and Bobby Ryan currently leads the league in playoff goals with 5. Each accomplishment has helped exorcise some demons this season. If that wasn’t enough, we all saw the team bond together over the dreadful news that goaltender Craig Anderson’s wife has cancer. The entire organization should be commended on how they handled that situation and what a feel good moment it was to see them advance in the first round. The Senators may have been favourites going into this series but considering what they have overcome, they have more than exceeded expectations this year and yes, even I, will be cheering for them.
Of course, another reason why I will be cheering for the Senators is because the Toronto Maple Leafs have now been eliminated. Fans in Toronto still have to pinch themselves everyday to see if this entire season and playoff run was real. It still feels like a dream and in typical Maple Leafs fan tradition, we will be worried about it all summer and into next fall. Can this team do it all again next year? But since we have time to worry about the future at at later time, let’s take a quick look back at this unforgettable team of rookies that have far, far exceeded expectations. Give credit to the Washington Capitals because it took everything they had to eliminate this team in 6 games. Everyone knows the Caps had the best record in hockey and were the best defensive team as well and yet, when you breakdown the numbers, the series was as even as could be. All six games were determined by one goal with five of those games going into overtime. We know the Maple Leafs were not supposed to contend for a playoff spot this year. But they did. We knew this team shouldn’t have made the playoffs. But they did. We knew there was no chance for this team of unproven players to be competitive against the best team in the league. But they were.
From Auston Matthews’ 4 goals to Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov getting under everyone’s skin to Freddy Andersen proving he is a legitimate number one goalie, this team made a statement this year. The Toronto Maple Leafs are back. They are young, work hard and play the game the right way. It has been a long time coming, but this city finally has a hockey organization, from top to bottom, that it can be very proud of.
» Sports » Great (Canadian) Expectations Part 2