The 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs have already been a wild ride and things are just getting started. If you haven’t been closely following all of the action, you may only know that some of the biggest teams have already been eliminated (Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild) and that a couple series ended in a hurry as there were two sweeps and two series which only needed five games.
Based on just the information above, you might think it’s been a lopsided year in the playoffs. That hasn’t been the case, as evidenced by the fact the NHL just set a new record for most overtime games in the first round of the playoffs.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 24, 2017
The new record was set thanks to the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs going to overtime in Game 6 of their series. Remarkably, the Caps and Leafs went to OT five different times in six games, tying an NHL record.
Fifth OT of series ties NHL record: MON/TOR 1951 (Barilko series) & ARIZ/CHI (2012).
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 24, 2017
The percentage of first round games needing OT – 42.9% – is absolutely insane and speaks to the incredible balance of competition around the league. A few different bounces could have completely altered the makeup of the teams advancing to the second round.
Despite the fact so much extra hockey was played in the opening round, not a single series needed to go the distance with a Game 7. Every first round series wrapped up in six or fewer games for the first time since 2001.