Alright so I have to be honest, I did not see this coming. Maybe I was thinking too much with my heart and not my head, but I had both of the Second Round matchups dead wrong. First of all, I thought the Bruins would’ve actually been able to compete with Tampa, especially after watching the Bruins take Game 1 pretty convincingly. Yes, the refs were bad throughout the series and that didn’t help, but you don’t lose a series in five games just because of the refs. Even though the Bruins found a way to contain Stamkos and Kucherov, the secondary scoring of the Lightning showed up big time. Losing in 5 is tough, but they still did a lot better than I expected at the start of the season so I’m okay with that. Read more
Category Archives: 2018 NHL Playoffs
While the winners in the West had a bit of a cakewalk to the second round, things weren’t so easy in the East. Tampa Bay took out the Devils in 5, but Taylor Hall did just about everything he could to give New Jersey a chance. The Capitals looked like they wouldn’t be able to lose in the second round this year after dropping the first two games of their series against the Blue Jackets, but after making the switch to Braden Holtby in net the Caps went on to win the next four games. The Penguins showed a glimpse of why they are the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions in their 6-game series win against the Flyers. The one thing we learned this series is that the Penguins can seemingly score at will, finding the back of the net 28 times in the series. Last but certainly not least, the Bruins and Leafs were the only series to go the distance and I was very happy with the ending.
Why don’t we all give a round of applause for the Vegas Golden Knights. Wow, what a great season it’s been! Proving all the doubters wrong. Incredible. Just remarkable, wow!
Alright, now everyone shut up.
I’ve had enough of all of this “success” and if you’re a fan of virtually any other franchise in the league, you should be fed up too (save for the Penguins maybe, because you don’t have much to complain about). Why? Vegas has single-handedly made the NHL appear as a complete joke and the worst part of all is the league basically did this to themselves. Gary Bettman has to know this, and I’m sure he’s cheering his bag off on the inside for the Sharks to pull off a series win and finally beat this Golden Knights team. Early returns aren’t encouraging for the Sharks. Especially not good after that 7-0 shellacking last night in game one of the second round.
Here’s the thing, everything was all well and good in the early goings of this process. It was a cool story. I’d never experienced an expansion draft as a hockey fan because the last expansion had taken place when I was just three and a half years old (Columbus, 2000). It’s clear the league had seen expansion drafts before, but we had apparently never seen something quite like this because this team was going to be “much more competitive than any other expansion team we’ve seen”. How cute, maybe they won’t finish last. But it was still an edgy pick to even have Vegas finishing inside the top 30 of 31 teams. Why wouldn’t you have them there though. What other precedent did we really have to base things off? Read more
For half of the playoff teams, the Cup dream is already over. For the other half, they’ve earned the right to continue battling for Lord Stanley’s Mug. Every squad left in the playoffs accumulated over 100 points during the regular season which suggests we are in for a doozy of a second round. My preview of the Winnipeg/Nashville series will be out tomorrow.
I also have to make note that I am a man capable of eating my words and can admit when I was wrong. I expected to watch two long, bitter, Pacific Division matchups in the first round which ultimately led to a Kings-Ducks semi-final. I was off on all counts as both the Knights and Sharks brought out the brooms and steamrolled their opponents with speed and great goaltending. Let’s dive into the series analysis.
(P1) Las Vegas Golden Knights v. (P3) San Jose Sharks
Season series: VGK 3-0-1; SJS 1-2-1.
Golden Knights Round 1 Recap: Vegas made the Kings look slower than a Hal Gill breakaway. Their relentless forecheck and ability to stretch the neutral zone was simply too much for L.A to handle. The Golden Knights won every game by only a single goal but it was quite apparent that they were the better team. They received contributions from up and down the lineup as 13 of 19 players recorded at least a point during the sweep. Marc-Andre Fleury (proud owner of the best smile in the world) was also an absolute wall in net. He followed up the best regular season of his career with a heckuva performance posting a scintillating 0.65 GAA and .977 SV% with two shutouts. In reference to the Kings, I have not seen such an inability to score since last weekend when I tried to talk to a girl at the bar – apparently, magic tricks are a bad way to pick up chicks, who knew? Vegas has been on a storybook ride this season and many pundits (including myself) figured that the playoffs would be a rude awakening for them. The Golden Knights just continued to prove everyone wrong as they executed their gameplan to perfection.
Sharks Round 1 Recap: SoCal prevailed in the battle of California as the Sharks chowed down on the Ducks. Similar to what Vegas did to L.A, San Jose skated circles around Anaheim and exposed their lumbering style of play. Offensive leaders Couture and Pavelski had dominant performances as they both tallied 5 points in the sweep. Even with great showings from those two, it was Martin Jones who was the Sharks MVP of the first round. He was a stalwart between the pipes with a 1.00 GAA and a .970 SV%. The Sharks offense (which outscored the Ducks 16-4 in the series) has really started clicking since the addition of Evander Kane at the trade deadline and they’ve done it without the services of Joe Thornton who has been out of the lineup since January 23rd. The Sharks had arguably the most impressive first-round performance of any team.
Series breakdown: This series should be a great showcase of speed and skill as both teams have a ton of it. The two goalies were the stars of their respective shows in round one but I am expecting an offensive explosion here in the conference semi-finals. Both teams have potent top lines with a wealth of scoring depth at their disposal. While this looks like a fairly even match-up the biggest advantage seems to be San Jose’s power play. They were electric with the extra man against the Ducks as they converted at a 30% clip (6/20). The Golden Knights have the worst PP of any team left in the playoffs as they only scored on 8.3% of their chances (1/12) against the Kings. I do think that T-Mobile Arena is one of the more intimidating buildings to play in as the atmosphere is absolutely insane. I have been a Golden Knights “hater” so to speak throughout the season but I am jumping on the hype train and starting to believe. As good as Martin Jones has been I think Fleury will be able to outduel him in the cage and make those momentum-swinging saves that have become habitual for the ex-Penguin. I believe this will be a back and forth series with standout performances and tons of drama but I am pushing my chips into the middle of the table and yelling “Viva Las Vegas” all the way to the conference finals.
Prediction: Golden Knights in 7.
Picture credit to NHL.com (https://www.nhl.com/news/golden-knights-marc-andre-fleury-vs-sharks-martin-jones-goalie-breakdown/c-298207468).
Through the first two games of this series, the Leafs have struggled to stop the Bruins offense, giving up 12 goals so far. Specifically, the Leafs have not been able to find a way to slow down David Pastrnak, who now has 9 points this series after his 6 point explosion on Saturday night. To say that the 21-year old Czech has been on fire is an understatement.
Before I get started, let’s just get this out of the way:
In 2012-13, Toronto’s top ten in ice-time were: Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, James Van Riemsdyk, Cody Franson, Nikolai Kulemin, Carl Gunnarson, Mike Kostka, Nazem Kadri and Mark Fraser. Of that list only Bozak, JVR and Kadri remain and in completely different roles. It’s been five years. I’m over it. Apparently the trolls aren’t over it.
Regardless of the “4-0 sweeps” brackets filled out by homers from either side, this will be a tough series that will hopefully go seven games and be as entertaining as possible. For anyone trying to make sense of first round battle between the NHL’s 4th and 7th seeds (just how dumb is this playoff bracket format?) I’ll break down the matchup bit-by-bit and try to piece this thing together. Read more
(1:40) Toronto Blue Jays are hot
(7:50) Roberto Osuna’s 100th career save
(10:50) Shohei Otani aka The Japanese Babe Ruth
(14:31) Bartolo Colon International Man of Mystery
(16:50) Timberwolves vs. Nuggets
(24:10) Toronto Raptors Playoffs Outlook
(34:30) NHL Playoff Bracket Breakdown
(1:05:00) Cam calls in
For more NHL playoff coverage check out the Eastern Conference First Rund Preview from Cameron and the Western Preview from Ray: