Around The NHL: It’s Showtime, Bunting Banned, Teuvo Sidelined, More
I’m not sure about everyone else, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs are by far my favorite tournament/playoff on the professional sports calendar. Two straight months of all-out battles night after night, and for the first time since the bubble playoff, I finally have a dog in the fight! I’ll always root for Patrick Kane, so the Rangers are my team (maybe also because I’m holding a Rangers Stanley Cup ticket at +1200). Let’s go around the NHL and discuss some series.
Kane and the Rangers have dominated the Devils and the Hurricanes held serve at home, but other than that every series is tied up at 1-1. It’s been a fun, competitive first week of the NHL’s postseason. Let’s get to a few top stories around the NHL and Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Showtime is BACK
I know I mentioned him at the start, but I can’t not talk about Patrick Kane’s vintage goal last night in New Jersey to ice the Rangers’ 5-1 win. Early in the 3rd Period, Kane picked Jesper Bratt’s pocket, came in all alone and roofed a backhander over Vitek Vanecek’s shoulder to make the game 4-1. We even got Kane’s vintage fist pump. A small part of me was sad knowing another fan base gets to go nuts for Kane playoff goals and it certainly brought back some old feelings, but wow it’s fun to watch Kane play in the postseason again. Rangers games are must-watch TV for me as long as they’re in the playoffs.
Teuvo Time Cut Short
While one former Blackhawk is experiencing the highest of highs, unfortunately, another is experiencing quite the low. Teuvo Teravainen took a slash to the hand taking a shot during Carolina’s Game 2 win over the Islanders on Thursday. The Canes hold a 2-0 series lead, but Teuvo suffered a broken hand and will miss at least the rest of the series after having surgery
Carolina’s head coach Rod Brind’Amour was pretty livid about the situation in the postgame press conference, and while I would be too I’m not sure I’d exactly call the slash a “tomahawk chop.” That said, it most certainly should have been a penalty and it sucks Teravainen will miss time. Carolina likely survives the Islanders without him, but it’ll be a tough loss if they get a matchup with the Rangers in the 2nd Round.
Just about everything that could go wrong for Toronto in Game 1 did. The Leafs went down 3-0, rallied to cut the deficit to 3-2, then shot themselves in the foot with multiple penalties that led to a Lightning 7-3 Game 1 win. The worst of the bunch came at the hands of Michael Bunting who threw a pretty vicious and dirty elbow to the head of Eric Cernak. Bunting’s elbow came way behind the play, and sidelined Cernak. Tampa went on to score twice on the 5-minute power play.
The Leafs bounced back without Bunting just fine in Game 2 routing the Lightning 7-2. Tampa was without both Cernak and star defenseman Victor Hedman. Get ready for a long series, folks. This one went 7 games last year, and the Leafs have gone the distance and lost in every first-round series the last 5 years. I may or may not have bet Tampa to win the series 4-3 at +550.
Statistically, the Bruins put together the greatest regular season of all time. They set NHL records for wins (65) and points (135). But after just two playoff games, it’s the Panthers with all the momentum in that series. The Bruins won a fairly drama-free Game 1 over the Panthers 3-1, a contest they controlled most of the way through. But Game 2 was a different story.
Tied 2-2 heading into the 3rd Period, the Panthers rolled through Boston to the tune of 4-straight goals en route to a 6-3 win. Today, the Bruins got some more bad news. After missing each of the first two games, captain Patrice Bergeron will not travel with the team to Florida for Games 3 & 4. He could return for Game 5, however, but that has to be a red flag for the B’s. Bergeron is to Boston what Jonathan Toews was to the Hawks during the dynasty years. He’s as good of a two-way center as anyone in the NHL today. No Bergeron is a problem for Boston, so hopefully he’s healthy and can return to the ice soon.
Maybe it’s me rooting for an upset, maybe it’s me still not liking them after the 2013 Cup, or maybe (ok mostly likely) it’s me being annoyed the Bruins no-showed Game 7 of the Stanely Cup Final letting the Blues win a Cup. But I’m really hoping Florida pushes Boston to the brink in this series. That said, I truly hope Bergeron is healthy and able to return.
2015 Draft Impact
- Connor McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, has been held to just one assist through the first two games of the Oilers’ first-round series with the Kings. McDavid does have 11 SOG though, and he’s been all over the ice, he’ll be fine. Games 1 & 2 were a ton of fun though, and last year’s series went 7 games in a fantastic back-and-forth matchup. The series shifts to LA now tied at 1-1. Neither of these teams are going anywhere, this matchup has the potential to be a year-after-year playoff rivalry. It’s Friday night, you can sleep in tomorrow, do yourself a favor and stay up for the late puck drop tonight for Game 3.
- It took 8 long years, but Jack Eichel has FINALLY made it to the playoffs and in Game 2 he netted his first-career playoff goal. The game was tied 1-1 in the middle for the 2nd when Eichel, the No. 2 pick in 2015, redirected the go-ahead goal past Connor Hellebuyck. Vegas took a 2-1 lead and wound up taking Game 2 5-2. The series shifts to Winnipeg for Game 3 tied 1-1. Make sure to tune into Game 3 on Saturday afternoon. Winnipeg has one of the most fun playoff atmospheres in the NHL, and with the series tied 1-1 that barn should be ROCKING.
Stanley Cup Hangover?
- Last year’s Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche started slow out of the gate this time around. They lost 3-1 to the young Seattle Kraken in Game 1 and rallied from down 2-0 to win Game 2 over Seattle 3-2. The Avs are still really talented, but they’re without a few key pieces from last year’s squad. Captain Gabe Landeskog has been hurt all year, and last year’s playoff hero (or villain, depending on who you root for) Nazem Kadri left in free agency. They’ll still probably win this series, but they sleepwalked through a lot of Games 1 & 2. A young team like Seattle having life and heading home tied 1-1 should make for an intriguing Game 3
- The last series left to chat about is Stars and Wild. Game 1 was a wild double-overtime thriller that saw yet another ex-Blackhawk step up with Ryan Hartman netting the game-winner. Game 2 saw Dallas and Minnesota trade haymakers until the Stars eventually pulled away for a 7-3 win. Game 3 is tonight in Minnesota. The big news from this one is Joe Pavelski’s injury. Pavelski won’t travel to Minnesota for Games 3 & 4 after taking a big (and questionable) hit to the head from Matthew Dumba in Game 1. The Stars forward was nearly a point-per-game player this season with 77 points in 82 games. He’s also got 126 points in 169 career playoff games.