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NHL Playoff Vibe Check: Into the thick of it (the Stanley Cup Semifinals)

Avalanche-Golden Knights stream

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 04: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the third period against the Colorado Avalanche in Game Three of the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on June 04, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

It’s an early vibe check as the Stanley Cup Semifinals kick off this weekend. The four teams we all expected, of course; the Lightning, Golden Knights, Islanders and.... Canadiens.

Whatever the vibes are, they sure are weird. The Stanley Cup Playoffs always have strange vibes because upsets and mood changes and impossible-to-keep momentum, but boy these playoffs feel outright cursed.

Vegas in its third Semifinals in its four years of existence, the CANADIENS, Tampa Bay looking to repeat, the Islanders just kind of winning for some unexplainable reason (do not tweet stats at me I understand). It’s as if Mercury retrograde invented these playoff matches.

It’ll be fun though and there’s still some hilarious results on the table, so let’s check those vibes.

New York Islanders

The vibe: Really want to say New York Saints throwback NLL again if that’s allowed

Energy check: Here We Go Again

Once again, the Islanders and Lightning meet in the Semifinals. Once again, the Lightning *should* win. But also, a lot of teams should have won so far and haven’t, so really, who is to say. The Islanders did a great job overwhelming the higher-seeded Bruins and Penguins, but, faced far different goalie situations than what they will see from Tampa Bay. Perhaps Barry Trotz can invent another scandal or they can cosplay a 1990s pro lacrosse team again or something.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Second Round schedule, TV info]

Tampa Bay Lightning

The vibe: $18 million over the cap, right Dougie?

Energy check: The cringe troll meme from like 2012

No one really wants the Lightning to repeat because it’s boring but, consider this: the Lightning winning the Cup and everyone being mad about the salary cap is probably the funniest result left. Like, we can talk cap circumvention forever but the Lightning did everything within the rules so why are people mad at them? Not to be the tweet of “inventing a guy to get mad at” because most people are not mad, but for those who are, relax. It’s funny.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Five

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - JUNE 08: The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate a goal scored by Ross Colton #79 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in Game Five of the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on June 08, 2021 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Vegas Golden Knights

The vibe: Did you know there’s four Mormon rock bands out of Vegas alone

Energy check: Finally the favorite

So, Vegas was technically a favorite with the Wild, but the Wild were everyone’s favorite dark horse pick (sorry). Then, the Avalanche are just naturally favorites against everyone. This is the first series the Golden Knights are like, expected to win for real. If they lose people will be surprised and or annoyed. The Canadiens are a fun opponent for that since they only defeat teams they are not supposed to. Either way, the Knights are playing out of their minds right now and Jonathan Marchessault is suddenly Mr. Playoffs, so what can go wrong?

Montreal Canadiens

The vibe: The Ottawa Senators playing spoiler but if it was in the playoffs

Energy check: This tweet

The Canadiens are in the final four and I will keep saying it until it’s not true because it is still wild. Like, yeah the Canadian division was bad. But they still beat the teams that were supposed to be the best there! I guess this series is the best illustration of how bad the Canadian division was, since it’s the first time a team from Canada is going across the border this year. It’ll also tell us if the Maple Leafs were actually any good, so that will be fun.


Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.