Final four have combined for seven Stanley Cups; Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and Jay Bouwmeester vying for first Cup; Veteran captains Zdeno Chara and Justin Williams aim for another title
UNPREDICTABILITY CONTINUES INTO SECOND ROUND OF 2019 PLAYOFFS
The 2019 Conference Finals are comprised of two of the top six teams from the regular-season – Boston (No. 2) and San Jose (No. 6), who finished second in their respective conferences – and two teams that ranked outside the top 10 – Carolina (No. 11) and St. Louis (No. 12).
* The Blues and Hurricanes’ journeys to the third round are each marked by strong performances in the 2019 calendar year – St. Louis ranked last overall in the NHL standings on Jan. 2 while Carolina also found itself among the bottom nine on that day.
* This marked the fourth time in six years under the current playoff format – and 14th time in NHL history – that the second round required multiple Game 7s. The two Second Round Game 7s garnered record in-market ratings for all four clubs involved.
* St. Louis advanced to the Conference Finals by winning the third Game 7 this postseason to require overtime – the most ever in one playoff year.
* There have been 15 overtime contests this postseason – five more than the entire 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs (10 of 84 GP).
* The Hurricanes won a pair of one-goal games to take a 2-0 series lead back to Raleigh, where they set a franchise record for attendance and completed their first-ever best-of-seven sweep. The score was tied or within one goal for 85% of the series (206:23 of 244:04), including each of the first 183:06 – Carolina took the first multi-goal lead of the series in the final minute of Game 3. Overall, the Hurricanes led by more than one goal for less than 40 minutes (37:41).
* The other three series in the Second Round also were tightly contested: the Bruins became the seventh team in NHL history to win each of their first two series despite trailing 2-1 in each; the Blues overcame a 3-2 series deficit to win for the fourth time in franchise history (also 1972 QF, 1991 DSF and 1999 CQF); after erasing a 3-1 series deficit in the opening round, the Sharks eliminated the Avalanche despite allowing them to tie the series three times.
* The competitive balance seen in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs has been characteristic of recent postseasons – 88% of all possible second-round games have been played since the current playoff format was introduced in 2014 (148 of 168). That represents a 7% increase from the final six years of the previous format (82%; 138 of 168).
* More than half of games contested in the Second Round were decided by a one-goal margin (58%; 14 of 24 GP). Overall, nearly half of all games played thus far in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been decided by one goal (49%; 34 of 70 GP).
* Prior to the Hurricanes this year, only one Wild Card team had reached the Conference Finals since the division-based playoff format was introduced in 2014. The Predators came within two victories of winning the Stanley Cup in 2017 as the No. 2 Wild Card in the Western Conference.
* Carolina, the No. 7-ranked team in the Eastern Conference, is the 20th team in NHL history to reach at least the Conference Finals/Semifinals after ranking outside the top six in its conference (since 1974-75 when conferences were introduced). Eight of the previous 19 clubs to do so advanced to the Final, with only one claiming the Stanley Cup – the 2012 Kings won as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
* Only 26 remaining brackets in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge presented by Jägermeister have selected the correct series winner in each of the first two rounds (0.0019%). Of those 26, there is an almost even split on who they have picked to win the Stanley Cup: San Jose (30.77%), Boston (23.08%), Carolina (23.08%), St. Louis (23.08%).
NEW TERRITORY FOR PLAYERS AND TEAMS
The four teams in the 2019 Conference Finals have won a total of seven Stanley Cups, including only four in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68). Only 40 players on the remaining teams have played a game beyond the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with only 11 winning a Cup.
* A team in search of its first-ever Stanley Cup is guaranteed to reach the Final as the Blues (51st season) and Sharks (27th season) go head-to-head in the Western Conference Final. The Eastern Conference Final pits two teams that have a combined two Stanley Cups in the past 46 years (Bruins: 2011, Hurricanes: 2006).
* The Bruins roster features six Stanley Cup winners, the most among remaining clubs. Captain Zdeno Chara, goaltender Tuukka Rask and forwards Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand all won with Boston in 2011, while Joakim Nordstrom won as a rookie with Chicago in 2015.
* Boston’s opponent in the Eastern Conference Final brings as many combined Cups (6), the next-largest contingent of champions (4) and the only remaining Conn Smythe Trophy winner in Carolina captain Justin Williams (2014). Williams won his first championship in 2006 with the Hurricanes and is the only remaining player with three Stanley Cups (also 2012 and 2014 Kings); teammate Jordan Staal won with the 2009 Penguins, while forward Teuvo Teravainen and injured defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk won alongside Nordstrom with the 2015 Blackhawks.
* Every player to skate with St. Louis this postseason is vying to put his name on the Stanley Cup for the first time. Martin Jones is the only player on San Jose with his name on the prized trophy – he won a Cup with the 2014 Kings after playing 19 regular-season games and two playoff appearances.
* Only 40 players between the Blues (13), Sharks (12), Bruins (11) and Hurricanes (4) have skated in either the Conference Finals or Stanley Cup Final.
* While St. Louis has the most players with experience in the Conference Finals or Stanley Cup Final, they have the fewest combined games played in those rounds. Overall, the 40 players have a combined 471 games played past the second round (San Jose: 171, Boston: 148, Carolina: 80, St. Louis: 72).
^The above information is based on skaters who have played at least one game and goaltenders who have at least dressed in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Therefore, goaltenders Jaroslav Halak (BOS) and Jake Allen (STL) are included, but forward Jordan Nolan (STL) and goaltender Scott Darling (CAR) are not. Also, Oskar Sundqvist (STL) does not have his name on the Cup (he did not meet the criteria for either the 2016 or 2017 Penguins).
NHL Debuts New Brand TV Spot Ahead of 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Finals
The National Hockey League (NHL®) will unveil a new brand spot on national TV, digital and social platforms ahead of tonight’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN in the U.S. and on Sportsnet, CBC and TVA Sports in Canada.
In the spot, titled “Feel,” we’re reminded that the NHL and its players’ connection with fans extends “far beyond the ice… where what matters has nothing to do with stats or standings.” Hockey not only delivers excitement, unpredictability and intensity, but teamwork, acceptance and community – core values that the game and the players stand for. This spot features a few of those moments – on and off the ice – between some of the NHL’s biggest stars and the game’s youngest fans.
“Feel” closes with the assertion that hockey is more than a game. “So you wouldn’t be wrong to call hockey a sport,” says the narrator. “But while it begins as something you watch, what it becomes is something you feel.”
“While the action on the ice gets the spotlight, it’s often the quieter moments between players and fans that form emotional connections and make lifelong memories,” said Brian Jennings, NHL Chief Brand Officer and Executive Vice President. “Hopefully this spot captures, in a small way, the excitement and emotion that binds all of those on one side of the glass to the other.”
“Feel” is the NHL’s latest brand spot in a lineup of critically-acclaimed, fan favorite ads that include “Cup Raise,” “Boys,” “Handshake,” “Name,” “Spelling” and the Emmy Award-winning “No Words.”
The TV spot will air on NBC, NBCSN, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports and NHL Network, and run across digital and social media channels (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, NHL.com), and in-arena throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The spot was developed by creative team Cliff Skeete and Bruce Jacobson of Baby Bear’s Porridge Productions, in collaboration with editor Steve Bell of Cutters Studios and the NHL in-house marketing team