The student news site of Southern Lehigh High School

The Spotlight

The student news site of Southern Lehigh High School

The Spotlight

The student news site of Southern Lehigh High School

The Spotlight

SLHS fans face off to defend their NHL team

Wikimedia Commons
Retired hockey phenom Mario Lemieux raises the Stanley Cup won by his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in 2017.

As the National Hockey League (NHL) regular season approaches its end on April 18, teams are pushing hard to secure a spot in the playoffs. Fans are rallying behind their teams, showing support in hopes of boosting team spirit.

The NHL has four divisions, Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific, each with eight teams. The top three teams in each division qualify for the playoffs, and the remaining four spots go to the next two teams with the most points in each conference. The playoffs have four rounds, each being a best-of-seven series, consisting of the First Round, Second Round, Conference Finals, and the Stanley Cup Finals. 

Numerous hockey fanatics here at Southern Lehigh are eagerly anticipating the playoffs in hopes of seeing their team take home the Stanley Cup Trophy. Science teacher Mr. Rick Dreves is among them.

“I am looking for Boston to do well in the playoffs,” Mr. Dreves said. “They have a strong history with hockey; they are a city that truly rallies behind their teams.”

The Boston Bruins ended their season with a record of 47-20-15 and ranked seventh in the league. Boston has won six Stanley Cups, the latest being in 2011 when they beat the Vancouver Canucks. Boston has already clinched a spot in the playoffs, and with strong forwards like David Pastrnak and tough goalies, they are expected to perform well.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are another notable team with players like Auston Matthews, who is leading the league in scoring this season with 69 goals. They sit tenth in the league and wrapped up the season with a record of 46-26-10. Toronto has won thirteen Stanley Cups, but haven’t even reached the Stanley Cup Finals since 1967. Regardless, they have confirmed a playoff spot and are seeking to break that streak this year.

“I think that the Toronto Maple Leafs will have a tough route to the Stanley Cup, but I also think that they will win. Toronto has very skilled forwards and tough defensemen with a great goalie as well!” sophomore Eric Kloss said. “Without injuries, Toronto has a very good team with a great chance of winning the Stanley Cup!”

Senior Natalie Perrelli, who plays hockey herself, hopes otherwise.

“The team that I am rooting for happens to be the Buffalo Sabres, who have an extremely low chance of making the playoffs this year unfortunately,” Perrelli said. “Anything can happen, so seeing them at least make the playoffs would be my ideal outcome.”

The Buffalo Sabres, one of Toronto’s longtime rivals, are a part of the eleven teams that have yet to win a Stanley Cup, though they have made an appearance in the finals twice. The Sabres have had a rough season, their record being 39-37-6 and ending twenty second in the league. They have especially struggled on defense, which has made it harder for them to secure a wild card. 

In early March, the Sabres made some significant trades. They exchanged forward Casey Mittelstadt for defenseman Bowan Byram from the Colorado Avalanche and also traded their captain, forward Kyle Okposo, in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2024 draft from the Florida Panthers. Even with players like Rasmus Dahlin and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, it is unlikely that they make the playoffs.

The Pittsburgh Penguins seemed like they were going to be another unlucky team missing the playoffs. They wrapped up their season ranked nineteenth in the league with a record of 38-32-12. Nearing the end of the season, they crept their way closer and closer to a wildcard and found themselves in a race between the Philadelphia Flyers, the Washington Capitals, and the Detroit Red Wings for the final Eastern wildcard. Despite their efforts, the Washington Capitals ended up with the card.

The Carolina Hurricanes, on the other hand, have already clinched a spot in the playoffs and sit third in the league, they finished up their season with a record of 52-23-7. The Hurricanes are one of the four teams with seven or more series wins since 2019, though they are the only one out of the four that have not won the Cup. Senior Camryn Raudenbush hopes they’ll do so this year.

“I am very disappointed in [the Penguins] performance this season and their trade decisions,” Raudenbush said. “I hope that the Carolina Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup because the Penguins traded my favorite player, Jake Guentzel, to the Hurricanes a little while ago!” 

Apart from these, several other teams have also secured playoff spots. So far, NHL fans can expect to see the Vancouver Canucks, the Colorado Avalanche, and the New York Rangers

Unfortunately, there are also several teams who have been eliminated from the playoffs, like the Montreal Canadiens—who have won the most Stanley Cups in the league—the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Chicago Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks, and several others.

The playoff bracket is finally set and with the help of their fans, these teams are striving and giving it their all in hopes of taking home the Stanley Cup trophy. However, the team that is expected to win it all remains a mystery. In past years lower standing teams could find their way to the Second Round or beyond, and the higher standing teams could get eliminated in the First Round. The playoffs are so unpredictable, but that’s what makes it all so exciting.

About the Contributor
Vivienne Speranza
Vivienne Speranza, Staff Reporter
Freshman Vivienne Speranza is a first-year staff reporter for the Spotlight. She participates in volleyball and also plans on joining a few clubs this year including FSA, Angel 34, and Mini-Thon. Outside of school, Vivienne enjoys reading young adult fiction novels and cooking a variety of foods. In the future, she plans on attending college, possibly majoring in psychology or journalism.