The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs has featured exciting moments, upsets and spirited hockey from teams in both the Eastern and Western conferences.
That's not unusual for NHL playoff hockey, which annually offers the most exciting games and upsets of any major U.S. sports league. Yet ticket prices are on average lower than for the NBA playoffs and other competitions, particularly in smaller markets.
Two games will take place this evening, including a deciding seventh game between the St. Louis Blues and defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. The winner will play the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference semifinals. Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks await the winner of the Anaheim Ducks-Nashville Predators series, in which Anaheim currently holds a 3-2 lead.
The sixth and seventh games of playoff series tend to draw above average ticket prices on the secondary market.
In the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals will play the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the upstart New York Islanders, which startled the third-seeded Florida Panthers. The Capitals were the league's best team this year, and hockey has become a hot sport in the nation's Capitol.
Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues
The Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues will play this evening at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. In the long history of the Blackhawks-Blues rivalry, these two teams have only played one seventh game, which Chicago won in 1990. St. Louis has home ice advantage. But Chicago enters the seventh game with momentum after winning two consecutive games and rebounding from a two-goal deficit in game six. Chicago scored five unanswered goals in a 6-3 win. It was the first time in St. Louis' last 36 playoff games that the team has relinquished a two-goal advantage and lost. Chicago has won two straight seventh games on the road, including a huge win in Anaheim in the Western Conference finals last year, and has arguably hockey's best player in Patrick Kane. Blackhawks vs. Blues tickets start at $128 on the secondary market -- a premium price.
Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators
After winning the first two games in Anaheim, the Nashville Predators have lost three straight games and are on the brink of elimination. Anaheim has won each of the last three games by three goals. Another Anaheim win wouldn't be surprising. The Ducks finished seven points ahead of Nashville in the standings. Ducks vs. Predators tickets for Game 6 start at $34 -- a bargain for a Stanley Cup sixth game.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals
By notching the most points of any NHL team, the Capitals will enjoy home ice advantage at their Verizon Center in games one and two of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Penguins. Pittsburgh advanced by defeating the New York Rangers in five games, while it took Washington six games to eliminate Philadelphia. Washington and Pittsburgh played five times during the regular season, and Pittsburgh won three times. Pittsburgh and Washington have not played each other often in the playoffs, but Pittsburgh won the last playoff series between these two teams in 2009.
Big playoff games tend to draw the interest of celebrities. Several well-known
fans include Pat Sajak, Larry King, Wale, Mia Khalifa, and Lionel Messi. Expect to see some of these fans, plus others, at the Verizon Center throughout the series. Expect the series to carry six or the maximum seven games. Tickets start at a hefty $112.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.