Well, some shit went down last night, but most of it wasn’t necessarily hockey related. Merrin has all your post draft lotto reactions covered, I promise.
Game 1: Lightning vs Red Wings
Final Score: Bolts 5 – Wings 1
I’m not gonna lie, I was flipping between this game and the Blues game, especially once the Bolts got up 3-1. Tyler “Did Anyone See This Coming Before This Year” Johnson was a force for the Bolts, netting 2 goals in what would be a complete blowout. He helped fix some of their power play problems as well, scoring the first of two power play goals (they’d gone 0/7 the other night). Ben Bishop was easily the other MVP of the game for Tampa Bay, stopping 23 of 24 shots.
On the other side of the ice, rookie goalie Mrazek let in 4 goals on 18 shots before getting yanked. Jimmy Howard posted a slightly better percentage, with only one goal against on 11 shots. Their only goal came on a nifty little tip in by Fantasy Hockey Stud Tomas Tatar, but the Wings were already down 4-1 at that point, and it was just too much.
Also Pavel “Skill Player” Datsyuk tripped over his own skates. It was pretty much the highlight of the game for me.
What We Learned: In the battle of the unstoppable force (Tampa’s lightning quick offense) vs the immovable object (Detroit’s seasoned defense), it helps to have a goaltender remember which side he’s supposed to represent. And the refs missed some calls. Like this one. Clearly charging – his skates leave the ice.
Game 2: Wild v Blues
Final Score – Wild 1 – Blues 4
This game was a lot closer than the final score would suggest. Vladamir Tarasenko decided he liked scoring, so he put the Blues up by 2 in the first period, one on a tip-in, and the other on a pretty little power play goal. Then the Wild remembered that they play defense, and basically only defense, and shut that shit down. Fortunately, the Blues have a startlingly efficient defensive core as well, headlined by Alex Peitrangelo and Kevin “I like to Assist” Shattenkirk, and the 2nd period saw some great chances, but the score remained 2-0 in favor of the home team.
Now, I don’t like the Blues, but I picked them to win this series, so I definitely was rooting for them in this game. Things got interesting in the 3rd as Scandella cut the lead to one and remembered how to shoot the puck. Jake Allen was again in net, and while he wasn’t exactly getting a workout (the Wild had 25 shots total), he was doing admirably – with some help from the pipes, and his teammates. David Backes probably had the save of the game (or DID HE??) on this potentially game-tying goal.
But wait, there’s more! The Blues pot another goal with only 2 minutes left in the game. Going for broke, Yeo pulls Dubnyk, but as he’s skating to the bench, Minnesota turns the puck over in the neutral zone. It seems inevitable that St Louis gets the empty netter, but what’s that over there? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Devin Dubnyk!
An epic comeback was not to be, however, as Dubnyk does eventually make it to the bench and Tarasenko scores the empty netter for his first ever playoff hat trick!
What we learned: I really hate watching both these teams play hockey. So boring. Except for you, Tarasenko. You’re cool.
Game 3: Penguins v Rangers
Final Score: Pens 4 – Rangers 3
I’m pretty sure there are zero fans of either of these teams who are happy with how this game went down. It was pretty much a shitshow from start to finish.
First: there were only 38 minutes of 5v5 play during the entirety of the game. Your average hockey game has around 50. There were 11 total penalties handed out in the game, with 7 of the first 8 being called on the Penguins.
Yes, the Pens reputation for being “whiners” certainly preceded them, and definitely was an issue early on. The Rangers scored quickly on the first power play, and as I’d thrown my Bracket-based loyalties behind them, I was a pretty happy camper.
At the start of the second, all hell basically breaks loose. The Pens go on the power play early, and Sutter buries one past King Henry to tie the game. Then, Sidney Crosby decides to have his “haters to the left” moment, scoring two goals in 4.5 minutes. He’s not on my list of personal faves, but damn, can that man hockey.
From there on, the game devolved into back and forth power play opportunities, as there were 5 more penalties in the 3rd period. Brassard scores with the man advantage, cutting the Pens lead to 1, and putting some life back into the Rangers. Still, with literally every penalty getting called (except for Hagelin’s blatant interference on Crosby), it wasn’t long before Pittsburgh was back on the PP, and sure enough, it was Brandon Sutter Secret Nudist, with his second PPG of the game.
At about this point, a massive thunderstorm descended on Austin and the game was preempted in favor of satellite images of the storm. There was hail, people. Far more exciting than a contentious Eastern conference match up! Adding insult to injury, when the game came back on at first there was no sound, and then the picture froze so I switched it over to the Jets/Ducks, missing the most exciting goal of the entire game.
Of course the Rangers pull Lundqvist. Crosby and Malkin can’t decide which one of them should get the empty netter, and eventually the puck is turned over to New York. With 4 seconds left in the 3rd, Rick Nash elevates one over Fleury’s flailing glove to make the score 4-3. Unfortunately, this isn’t scripted, so there was no further chance of epic comeback-ness, and the score held.
That’s the way life goes, I guess.
What We Learned: Sidney Crosby may not get traded after all. That Malkin guy on the other hand? What a scrub.
Game 4: Ducks v Jets
Final Score: Ducks 2 – Jets 1
See? Merrin doesn’t have to do ALL the recaps featuring the Ducks. Hers are just funnier.
As expected, this was another big hitting game, and as the first period was scoreless, it was literally all anyone had to talk about (the game did have a ridiculous amount of hitting – 81 hits through all 3 periods). Everyone knows hitting is my least favorite stat, but it’s hard not to smile a bit when you see something like this.
I’m still giggling. Fuck the Ducks.
Still someone had to end this unexpected goaltending duel, and with as many offensive weapons as were on the ice last night, Perry, Getzlaf, Wheeler, Perrault, etc, no one was surprised when the stalemate was broken in the second.
cept that it was Adam…Pardy…with the goal. Yes, you read that right. Adam “This is my 1st goal since 2011” Pardy stepped it up big in the playoffs, scoring on Andersen with a sweet little wrap around.
(Kesler protested the goal for interference, but the ref was like “Uhhhh, you’re the one who pushed Stempniak into the net, shut up and go away”).
Still, we’re not allowed to have nice things, and the Jets haven’t figured out how to keep scoring on the Ducks once they have that first goal, so instead of continuing to push offensively (they had 59% 5v5 CF% in the 2nd) they sat back and let noted Elite Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec keep bailing them out, shot after shot.
Inevitably, the Ducks score, with Patrick Maroon taking advantage of a power play halfway through the 3rd to tie it up at 1-1. The Ducks really start pressing then, but nothing seems to be going past the incredible brick wall that Pavelec has become, and literally everyone is preparing themselves for Bonus Hockey.
But with less than 30 seconds left, Ryan Kesler proves he’s not entirely a waste of space, and keeps in a Jets clearing attempt. He passes to Jakob Silfverberg, who nets the game winning goal.
Now, I’m not usually the one to bitch about reffing, as all reffing regresses to the mean, but there were two VERY clear missed calls in the last minutes of the game. First, the Ducks had too many men on the ice with just 3 minutes of the game left. Then, (and I’ve forgotten which Duck this was, but I think it was Silfverberg) someone has such a good hold on Little’s stick as he’s trying to grab a pass behind the net, that he falls down when he tries to skate away because of the inertia. That pass? Yeah, it’s the one that goes all the way around the boards to Kesler.
Were the Jets playing well enough to actually make another power play count? No, probably not, but the inconsistency of reffing across games (and jeez, across series, even) is a huge issue.
What We Learned: The Jets might’ve been one of those regular season darlings who can’t get the job done when it counts. Also, I actually relate to Getzlaf?