Dave Hakstol and 12 former UND players ready for runs at the Stanley Cup
On Dec. 2, the Philadelphia Flyers lost their 10th-straight game.
Half of those losses came in overtime or a shootout, but it didn't stop the speculation that coach Dave Hakstol could get let go.
But as UND fans learned during Hakstol's 11-year tenure in Grand Forks, there was no need to panic and no need to make any rash decisions.
Just as he did annually as UND's head coach, Hakstol's Flyers team went on a late-season charge—they had the fifth-worst record in the NHL on Dec. 2 and had the fifth-best record in the NHL after that—and will be in the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs when they begin Wednesday.
Hakstol and 12 former players will be chasing the Cup this spring, hoping to add to UND's recent history of NHL champs.
A former UND player has been on the Stanley Cup-winning team in six of the last eight years. Last year, Carter Rowney won his first Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This year, he'll be Hakstol's adversary in the first round.
Hakstol has now reached the playoffs in two of his three seasons as head coach of the Flyers. Philadelphia lost in the first round in 2016.
Zach Parise and the Minnesota Wild will take on Tucker Poolman and the Winnipeg Jets beginning Wednesday in another first-round series. Poolman practiced as an extra defenseman on Monday and may not be in the lineup for Game 1.
The Los Angeles Kings, who have a pair of UND defensemen in Derek Forbort and Paul LaDue, will take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round.
Tyson Jost, the 19-year-old rookie who would have been a sophomore at UND this season, is preparing for his first NHL playoffs with the Colorado Avalanche, who will take on President's Cup winner Nashville in the first round.
Aaron Dell and the San Jose Sharks will play the Anaheim Ducks in another Western Conference series.
Former UND linemates Travis Zajac and Drew Stafford will be together in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, when they helped UND to the Frozen Four. Their New Jersey Devils will play the Tampa Bay Lightning first.
Another compelling series is the Washington Capitals against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
T.J. Oshie and Shane Gersich are playing with Washington. Gersich, who was a junior on UND's team this season, joined the Capitals at the end of the regular season and could play in the playoffs.
The Blue Jackets have former UND defenseman Taylor Chorney, who started the season with Washington.