After winning three at home and dropping three on the road entering Game Seven the New York Rangers came into Carolina and took a quick two-goal lead in the first period, but the game was not out of reach with Carolina getting plenty of offensive zone time.
The Rangers goaltender Mr. Shesterkin at times seemed unbeatable and when the Hurricanes were down to their third-string goalie the floodgates opened and with a Happy Net goal New York wins convincingly 6-2.
Game One of the Conference Semi-Finals begins tonight with Colorado hosting Edmonton as two of the NHL’s high octane offenses clash with each team averaging over four goals a game.
Colorado is the number one power play but Edmonton is a much better penalty-killing team, faceoffs are about even, the Oilers average slightly more goals against, and boast a goaltender that just turned 40 years old two months ago, and they have Mr. McDavid.
This series will come down to the leaders of each team and what they can accomplish Mr. McDavid and Mr. MacKinnon are both capable of carrying their teams and each has quality players on their rosters, so tighten your skate laces this is going to be exciting.
The Colorado Avalanche win the game, the series during the waning moments of the third period versus a determined St. Louis Blues team, and as well as Mr. Husso played Mr. Binnington realistically might not have made much of a difference in this series.
Colorado once again peppered Mr. Husso with an avalanche of SOG while barely surrendering a half a dozen SOG each period to St. Louis, scored on the power play, killed off two penalties, and won most of the faceoffs during a closely fought game.
Colorado has not won a playoff series since 2008 and has not won the Stanley Cup Conference Finals since 2001 so now the Avalanche goes up against the offensive power of the Oilers for the right to appear in the Stanley Cup Finals.
They had their chances they had leads, had the established goaltender, earning a +85 goal differential in the regular season as the sixth-best team in the league, yet all for naught as Mr. McDavid, Mr. Draisaitl, and Mr. Kane were backed up by Mr. Smith to douse the Flames.
Calgary’s fifth goal was good the puck was rolling/bouncing into the net when a non-kicking motion skate blade assisted the puck’s velocity, upon review the replay clearly shows this.
Interestingly the Oilers Mr. McDavid is only the second Edmonton player besides Mr. Tikkanen to score a series-clinching overtime goal in the Battle of Alberta.
Carolina and New York win at home in this series and the Rangers are going to have to score three or four goals while onsides to win and the Hurricanes can close out the series by allowing one or no goals.
Even in victory, Carolina could only win in OT or a shutout whereas New York’s victories were by two and three-goal margins, both these teams are playing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde style of Hockey as the visitors can barely manage to score once during the game.
Colorado can close out their series versus the Blues in St. Louis tonight beginning at eight o’clock.
Game Five of the Stanley Cup Quarter Finals if you were born last Century or for the younger Hockey fans this is the second round or the Conference Semi-Finals and either way we have drama.
Since New York took revenge on Mr. Domi for his cheap slash/check after the whistle ending game three it would appear Carolina is now crying foul when Mr. Trouba laid out Mr. Domi with a “legal” open-ice hit.
I am willing to make the supposition if Mr. Domi could have kept his emotions in check and did not act out physically after the whistle ending game three that Mr. Trouba possibly might have pulled up a bit or not gone “through” Mr. Domi in game four.
They say the best form of revenge is to be successful and that is exactly what Mr. Kane has been for Edmonton since the Oilers acquired him, two hat tricks one natural, leads all scorers with 12, and no sign of being a “locker room cancer” during these playoffs.
The addition of a 30-year-old “journeyman” to play alongside Mr. McDavid was nothing short of a coup for Edmonton, no amount of slanted bad press will deter this Edmonton team and Calgary needs Mr. Markstrom to stay in the net to avoid elimination.
Much ado will be made about Mr. Binnington getting hurt early in this game and losing your number one goaltender can be devastating if you are a defensive team and St Louis is anything but, they scored over 300 goals in the regular season.
An entire game’s worth of SOG was taken in the first period and all three goaltenders played well as the period ended tied at one, the second period had almost as many SOG with three goals being scored.
When Colorado took the two-goal lead in less than four minutes with the second period winding down it began to look dire for St Louis but Captain O’Reilly scored to pull the Blues within one with only 30 seconds remaining in the period.
The third period was played tighter with less shooting but no less action as Mr. Husso hesitates on a “pulling the goalie call” and subsequently gets stranded in no man’s land and the Avalanche easily scored the Happy Net goal to regain a two-goal lead.
Then as some Head Coaches are prone to do when down by two or more goals with no realistic chance for a comeback and win will still pull the goalie and as was the case last night affording Colorado two Happy Net goals to win the game 5-3.
The St Louis narrative at the moment is that Mr. Binnington is still being evaluated and we should know something today, but Colorado did lose one of their defenseman who logs 20-minute games to a break in his breastbone.
The NHL has scheduled the playoffs this Sunday with a couple of afternoon games and one night game beginning at 1:30, 3:30, and then eight o’clock this evening.
Once again NHL fans were treated to the extremes of playoff Hockey as the first game, not surprisingly a 1-0 contest between a Jennings Trophy-winning team goalie versus the NHL’s second least amount of goals scored against team goalie until the Happy Net goal with 1.8 seconds remaining.
In the second game the barns are still burning out West as the Battle of Alberta’s second game produces 80 SOG, eight goals (the last two were breakaway goals), one disallowed goal, 11 power plays, and nearly 70 hits as this series is now even up.
Edmonton earns a split with a 5-3 victory
New York Head Coach’s quote after the first period when questioned about the face-off disparity, “not major, (smiles), we want to win more”.
Carolina Head Coach’s quote before the game,“if you are playing at this time of year there is something wrong with you”, (injury).
These teams combined for 18 SOG total halfway through the second period, a goaltending duel this was not, and a two-game to none lead in this series is as suffocating as their style of play.
Incredibly the Rangers get a four-minute power play and give up a short-handed eventual game-winning goal, then get penalized with 23 seconds left on their power play, absorb another to be down five on three for over a minute, and do not get scored on.
The NHL Stanley Cup second round continues this evening with one contest scheduled for an eight o’clock puck drop in St. Louis for the Blues and Avalanche series that is tied after two games.
Goaltending was not the issue for the Florida Feud last night as both Mr. Bobrovsky and Mr. Vasilevskiy were near brick walls but scoring is an issue for the comeback cats and if they endeavor to live up to that moniker they had better begin lighting the lamp.
To win the first two games on the road in any playoff series is telling, the making of a sweep realistically and it all depends on game three and if it becomes another one-goal effort from Florida’s offense.
Perhaps a team with a plus 94 goal differential in the regular season and as current President Trophy holder could find a way to unleash their four 30 goal scorers upon their opponent and if not the brooms will come out.
The Blues have played well in Colorado and go home with the split and their fans should be encouraged by the victory and the fact that the Avalanche after taking over 50 SOG could only manage to win game one in overtime.
The Avalanche is one of only two teams not to lose 20 or more games in the regular season and have just as much firepower as the Blues and if Colorado does not bring their “A” game they could head home for game five down three to one.
The best of both worlds in playoff Hockey was on display last night as fans witnessed a suffocating one-nothing game that was not won until the last six minutes of play, three of which were in overtime, and a spectacular barn burner tied at six finalizing at 9-6.
New York scored first approximately seven minutes into last night’s matchup versus Carolina that held up until two and a half minutes remaining in regulation, and the Hurricanes played like the Carolina Light Breeze in the first two periods amassing 14 SOG six in the second period.
Clearly Carolina “decided” to play in the third period as they took it to New York limiting the Rangers offensive zone time which resulted in five SOG for New York over the game’s final 20 minutes of regulation and three in overtime.
Fans will gripe about not enough goals being scored in NHL games, well you get what you ask for and both teams combine for 15 goals as Calgary torches Edmonton for three goals each period for an impressive nine-goal outburst.
Edmonton did not answer back until down three goals for the period and wow did they ever, as Mr. Kane demolishes Mr. Ritchie along the backboards that allowed Mr. Barrie to make the pass to Mr. McDavid who does what he does best and scores.
Edmonton ties the game at six goals heading into the third period as the choking noose begins to tighten around Calgary’s neckline but the past nightmares of series loss dissipate as the Flames continue scoring to take another two-goal lead and the last score a Happy Net goal.
Round Two or the Stanley Cup Quarter-Finals or for modern fans, the Conference Finals have begun last night with Colorado pouring an avalanche of 54 shots at the St. Louis netminder that inflated the Blues save percentage and blocks statistic, and still this game went to overtime.
In a contest where numerous Colorado legit scoring chances were not cashed in, the Blues would have considered themselves lucky to get a loser point during the regular season but all for naught on the road in the first game of this playoff series.
No NHL playoff series was ever won in the first game or Toronto would have moved on after a dominating 5-0 win in the first game of the last round, this is something the Panthers can hang their skates on after dropping the first game of “The Battle for Florida”.
Two Eastern teams that should have and did win their opening rounds, Carolina and New York are ready to faceoff at seven o’clock this evening in Raleigh North Carolina where the temps are rising to 87 F today for fans to bask in before the teams hit the ice.
The Hurricanes are enjoying Aunty Raanta’s invaluable play as Mr. Andersen is out and New York’s twenty-something Mr. Shesterkin is having exemplary playoffs as well, so goaltending should not be an issue for either team.
Both teams seem evenly matched except for the goal differential which goes to Carolina and the Rangers one advantage is the now useless shoot-out statistic so this series will come down to the Hurricanes offense and the Rangers goaltending and everyone knows you cannot win nothing to something.
Prediction: Carolina in seven
The two remaining Canadian playoff teams are matched up and begin to play at nine-thirty this evening and Buffalo Winter’s favorite, the Calgary Flames are hosting the Edmonton Oilers and after more than a decade the “Battle of Alberta” is back with a very confident Flames fan base.
This season Buffalo Winter Hockey was invited to participate in a local NHL playoff fantasy tournament where six seasoned fantasy players recently held their draft.
The 11 positions required to fill:
1 Goaltender (NHL Team name not goalies)
1 extra selection (any position)
The progression of elimination in a playoff fantasy tournament provides the fantasy player a demanding draft with a smaller roster/lineup and no opportunities for player movement making each draft selection of a player/team critical.
The strategies for this type of tournament vary between drafting superstars on a team that probably will not make the Finals or selecting decent to very good players on teams that likely will make the Finals, or going all-in on the team you think will win the Cup.