We’ve made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, well, most of us have. The games are set to begin tonight with the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals squaring up for Game One. We’ll also see a regular season game bing played at the same time when the Edmonton Oilers, who are in the playoffs, take on the Vancouver Canucks, who are very much not in the playoffs. It’s the first time that regular season games will be played simultaneously as the Stanley Cup Playoffs are going on since I can remember and it feels so weird and stupid.
• Think about if the Oilers lost Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl to an injury in a game that had no bearing on standings or playoff positioning whatsoever when the Playoffs are actually starting for other teams. How absolutely devastating would that be for the team and the league?
• Injuries happen, yes, but in a game that doesn’t matter at all when the Playoffs should be happening for every team at the same time, I just hope the league doesn’t have to run into that kind of mess.
• And it’s not like this is a one-day weird occurrence. The regular season for the North Division will run through Wednesday, May 19th when other teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be getting ready for games two or three in their series. It is truly remarkable that the league is making these non-playoff teams finish their seasons, sometimes against current playoff teams too, while the playoffs continue in the States. These guys just want to go home at this point and I wouldn’t blame them.
• Here in the U.S. though, it’s Stanley Cup Playoff time.
31 teams began this journey.
16 teams continue it starting tonight.
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) May 15, 2021
• I miss Doc so much.
• This will be the swan-song for the NHL on NBC with the league heading to ESPN/Turner Sports for the next seven years.
• Tonight’s contest between the Bruins and Capitals will see former Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara face his former team in the postseason for the first time.
CAPS TODAY: Zdeno Chara, who will face the Boston Bruins in the playoffs for the first time in his career, will become the seventh player in NHL history to appear in a playoff game at age 44 or older. More info on Chara, the matchup and Caps Clips at https://t.co/HecIC0ECg1 pic.twitter.com/FnMw1LUeBK
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) May 15, 2021
• Chara won the 2011 Stanley Cup with the Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks, and lost in the Final in 2013 to the Chicago Blackhawks and in 2019 to the St. Louis Blues. At 44-years-old, he is the seventh player to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at that age or older, with Gordie Howe being the oldest ever at 52-years-old(!) in 1980.
• With the Playoffs beginning, we get to see some of the best hockey in the world and for the first time since the 2019 Playoffs, there will be real fans in the stands to provide the Stanley Cup Playoff atmosphere.
NHL playoff fan capacity:
St. Louis: 9,000
Tampa Bay: 7,000
New York Islanders: 6,800
Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Winnipeg: 0
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) May 14, 2021
• At least there will be in the U.S.
• Speaking of the U.S.-Canada border, Austin Matthews sealed up the Rocket Richard Trophy this season as the NHL’s leading goal-scorer with 41 goals in 52 games this season. His 82-game pace would have seen him score 64 goals, which would have been the highest since Alex Ovechkin’s 65 goals in the 2007-08 season.
Auston Matthews wins the Rocket Richard Trophy with 41 goals—none scored into an empty net.
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) May 15, 2021
• Since Mario Lemieux (69) and Jaromir Jagr (62) both topped the 60-goal threshold in the 1995-96 season, only Steven Stamkos (60, 2011-12) and Ovechkin (65, 2007-08) have reached the 60-goal mark.
• In other playoff news, the USHL Clark Cup Final began yesterday between the Fargo Force and the Chicago Steel. Game One one the way of the Force, 3-0. Both teams are looking for their second Clark Cup titles.
This was the first time the Steel had been shutout since the 2018-19 season, ending a streak of 120 games with at least one goal. I'll be at Game 2 tomorrow night and will be able to talk to players and coaches after the game. Looking forward to it. https://t.co/Une4wF1tEK
— Greg Boysen (@GregBoysen) May 15, 2021
• Yeah, the Steel have been, in a word, dominant.
• Flipping to the Blackhawks organization, the AHL season is winding down today for the Rockford IceHogs as they close the 2021 schedule with a game against the Chicago Wolves. Rockford closed their home games with a 4-1 win over the Wolves on Friday night, their final game in front of fans for the season, sending the Rockford faithful out with a win.
• Another development from last night’s game was Blackhawks development coach Kendall Coyne-Schofield being on the IceHogs bench alongside head coach Derek King.
#IceHogs HC Derek King said it was the first game Kendall Coyne Schofield was behind the bench.
"It was a good opportunity for her to see some of the players she's been working with and get to see how they act coming off the bench and how they are at ice level. #Blackhawks #AHL https://t.co/iPOsWq4WFe
— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) May 15, 2021
• Coyne-Schofield was hired by the Blackhawks as a developmental coach this season and has been working with the IceHogs players this season. A really cool moment and maybe a glimpse into the future seeing her behind the bench.
• As far as the IIHF World Championships go, it appears that Blackhawks goalie Kevin Lankinen will be part of Team Finland’s roster.
Tänään julkistetaan lopullinen joukkue. Lankinen ja Määttä oli jo Entry Listillä joten siksi uskon että ovat mukana. Toki kuten sanoit aina voi joku viime hetken juttu tulla, etenkin näinä aikoina.
— Teppo Laaksonen (@LaaksosenTeppo) May 15, 2021
• Translated: “The final team will be announced today. Lankinen and Määttä were already on the Entry List so that’s why I think they are involved.” So former Blackhawks defenseman Olli Määttä will also be invited to the roster as well.
• Ending on a sour note today, sorry ya’ll, but the lawsuit being filed against the Blackhawks in the sexual assault case involving a former 2010 Stanley Cup team member has a new development.
• According to reports, the attorney who represents the former player intends to call a former teammate as a witness in the case. Attorney Susan E. Loggans also says her client and the teammate complained about the conduct of former video coach Bradley Aldrich to a member of Chicago’s front office in addition to speaking with a team psychologist who is named in the suit filed April 30th. From the report:
“He brought it up (to staff), and so did the witness,” Loggans said. “And the witness told me, when I asked him, ‘Did the Blackhawks know about it?’ and he said, ‘Oh, absolutely.’ He mentioned the two names and he said they were both fully aware of what’s going on.”
• We’ll keep up as this story develops.
• That’s all for today, enjoy your Saturdays!