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.
The “Second Season” begins tonight as the NHL begins the Stanley Cup playoffs with four contests featuring the defending two-time Cup champions, two games in Canada, and the NHL’s 60-goal man.
The Maple Leafs and Lightning have never met in the playoffs and as much stock is put into regular-season series play…most would agree the playoffs are indeed an entirely different season.
Toronto depends on its core of twenty-somethings and Tampa Bay depends on its core of thirty-somethings so the ice belongs to Awesome Matthews as well as the responsibility to lead his Leafs to the next round. Toronto in 6
Carolina opens the playoffs versus a team they owned during the regular season, has only lost eight Home games, and although their number one goaltender Mr. Andersen is not fully healthy there are no worries because Mr. Raanta has better numbers than Boston’s number one goalie. Carolina in 6
Minnesota is a feel-good story and a very solid team that has picked up a Cup champion goaltender and is endeavoring to get past a team that they have had a dismal record against during the past three seasons.
The Blues are still a very good team and it is possible the goaltenders will rule this series. St Louis in 6
In the series between the 11th and 14th teams overall the Kings and Oilers are evenly matched where the only telling sign statistically is the goal differential which is heavily in Edmonton’s favor and they have Connor McDavid. Edmonton in 6