The best time of the year for hockey fans begins tonight: the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The question on everyone’s mind is quite obviously “Who will raise the Cup?” Will it be the President’s Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks? Will it be the Eastern Conference regular-season champion Pittsburgh Penguins? Will another team surprise the world and rise to the top like last season’s eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings?
Chances are fairly high that whichever team wins hockey’s most coveted prize, a former University of North Dakota player will be on that team. Six teams competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have UND alumni, meaning that there is a 37.5% chance that a UND alumus will raise the Cup.
A total of nine UND alumni are competing in the playoffs: Chicago’s Jonathan Toews; Los Angeles’ Matt Greene; Minnesota’s Zach Parise, the New York Islanders’ Joe Finley and Brock Nelson; St. Louis’ T.J. Oshie, Chris Porter, and Taylor Chorney; and Toronto’s Matt Frattin.
UND fans will want to spend special attention to two first-round series.
Toews and the Blackhawks face off against Parise and the Wild starting tonight at 7 Central Time.
Greene and the defending champion Kings will take on Oshie, Porter, Chorney, and the Blues beginning tonight also at 7. Greene, however, is out tonight due to an undisclosed injury that is not related to the back injury that caused him to miss most of the regular season. Chorney was called up by the Blues on Saturday for added roster depth for the playoffs; he has spent the entire season with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen.
The other UND alumni are not facing each other in the first round. Joe Finley, Brock Nelson, and the Islanders face the Pittsburgh Penguins, while Matt Frattin and the Maple Leafs face the Boston Bruins.
Greene last season became the 13th UND alumnus to win the Stanley Cup. Will there be a 14th this season?