Four games tonight and two teams eliminated from the playoffs. We say goodbye to the Preds (miss ya never) and the Canucks (lolololol roast some marshmallows on those Flames). I went to see Game 2 of the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs between the IceHogs and the Texas Stars and. well. That didn’t go so well. But I still have playoff recaps for you!
Game 1: Capitals vs Islanders
Final Score: Capitals 1 – Islanders 3
Series: Capitals 3 – Islanders 3
Okay, seriously, are you all watching this series? The guy they have calling it (I haven’t looked him up) thinks he’s calling the Finals, I think, if the way he calls the goals are any indication. SCOOOOOOOOOOOOORES. I love his enthusiasm, don’t get me wrong, but save some for the night, bro.
Go watch one of the goal videos on NHL.
Anyway, pretty heavy hitting game for the Isles, who had 27 hits in the first period alone. (Of course, they have Matt “smear your face off” Martin on their team.) Scoring started with John “this is my excited face” Tavares in the first period picking up a puck that Strome dropped when he was checked against the boards in front of the Caps bench. He carries it in alone and just makes the Caps defense look like silly gooses.
I mean. Hella surprised that John Tavares is good at hockey, right?
Caps score with five seconds left in the period (literally) when Tavares gets a penalty for slashing. The Islanders had actually cleared the puck, but couldn’t get back down in their end fast enough, the Caps get the long pass through the neutral zone straight to Troy Brouwer, who went in alone on Halak and . . . Halak actually blocked that one, but didn’t get the rebound. Rebound went to Ovechkin who sent it straight to John “I’m just here so we don’t get shutout” Carlson, who tips it straight past Halak, over someone sprawling in the lane, and the Isles had still not finished getting into place from the neutral zone.
Scoreless middle, lots of hits, and one ALMOST goal for Grabovski. Seriously, it’s like the hockey gods were laughing at him. It goes up and over Holtby and just nudges outside the net.
Third period, Caps start to get into the hitting game, and it actually cost them the tie score. Some Caps and some Isles (I didn’t write their names down) get into it in front of the benches, leaving PLENTY OF ROOM for Tavares to rush down the middle with the puck because hey, game’s still going on. Tavares shoots, misses, but Ovechkin and Alzner follow after and check Tavares into the boards. They’re so busy checking they miss the puck squirting free (for a ~legit hockey term) but you know who doesn’t miss it? Nick “soft beard aesthetic” Leddy, who gets the puck to Nikolai “just happy to be here” Kulemin, who has no trouble at all getting it past Holtby.
Add an empty netter by Cal Clutterbuck, and the Nassau lives to potentially see another playoff series before the end.
What we learned: John Tavares may want to check his programming. He showed some emotion this game and I don’t know if he’s allowed.
This, of course, was just after the scrum at the end of the game, when John Tavares decides he has had ENOUGH of scrapping and just wants to be happy, damn it.
Game 2: Red Wings vs Lightning
Score: Red Wings 4 – Lightning 0
Series: Red Wings 3 – Lightning 2
So last year I was so angry for the Lightning because they were steamrolled by the Canadiens without Ben Bishop. Now this series is happening and I’m wondering a) what the hell is wrong with the Lightning and b) would Ben Bishop have made any difference in that series?
Who knows. But hey, Detroit, despite their rookie goaltender, is what people in the know like to call “legit.” And despite having the highest goals per game in the regular season, the Lightning now find themselves a) scoreless in this game and b) facing elimination in the next one.
A) yes this is necessary and b) no I will not stop.
What would you like to know here? The Red Wings scored four times. The Lightning did not score at all.
The saddest part, for the Bolts, is that this happened in Tampa Bay. (THEY REALLY ARE DALLAS EAST I’M GONNA CRY.)
What we learned:
Game 3: Blackhawks vs Predators
Score: Blackhawks 4 – Predators 3
Series: Blackhawks 4 – Predators 2
So remember in the first game of the series when Crawford let in three goals in the 1st period, was pulled after 1 for Darling, the Hawks scored three times in the 2nd, and Keith scored the game winner in OT?
This game was a lot like that one.
Darling lets in three goals in the first period because a) he’s only human and b) sometimes the rest of the Hawks play like garbage in front of him. The first goal happened when Niklas “nobody says my name right” Hjalmarsson basically hands the puck over to James “I have beautiful hair and a terrible soul” Neal right in front of the net. Neal makes short work of getting it in the back of the net and it’s 1-0 Preds.
The second goal happens on a penalty to Kimo Timonen. James Neal (yes again) deflects a shot from Cody Franson over Darling’s shoulder and straight into the net. Brent “didn’t have enough nachos before the game” Seabrook just stands there and, idk, watches the whole thing go down, because he was doing a great job of boxing out someone who wasn’t a danger anyway, but does nothing about James Neal.
The final nail in Darling’s coffin happened when Matt “no I don’t sparkle in the sunlight, stop asking me that” Cullen skates through Duncan Keith like he’s not even there and Niklas “yes again” Hjalmarsson lays out the red carpet straight to the twine.
Sometimes, pulling goalies isn’t about the goalies. It’s about sending a message to your team that they’re playing like shit and need to pull themselves together. And you know what? They did. Their possession in the first period was garbage, and if I’m doing my math right, team CF% was a lousy 39% in the first. The second was a ridiculous 74% and the third a respectable 60%.
Hilarious to note that on the other end of the ice, Pekka Rinne ALSO let in 3 goals in the first, but Laviolette left him in. I need to go back and watch this period (I was at a Texas Stars game tonight, don’t ask, it was terrible) because I don’t understand how the Hawks scored 3 times while barely possessing the puck, but the second and third goals came after Crawford was put in. Maybe possession was already on an uptick. (Carolyn tells me that I am right.)
Anyway, I said this game was a lot like the first game in this series, right? Except opposite day with the goalies. This time, Darling got yanked for Crawford, we tied it up in the 1st, but Keith still had the game winning goal (thankfully this time in regulation).
What we learned: This team is all about hugs and responsibility.
Game 4: Flames vs Canucks
Final Score: Flames 7 – Canucks 4
Series: Flames 4 – Canucks 2
Oh my GOD what a wild ride. Look, there were eleven goals so we’re not going to break all of those down. But we’ll do what we can.
The Canucks go up 3-0 in the first 10 minutes of the 1st period, and I’m sure if you’re a Flames fan, you’re expecting to head back to Vancouver for game 7 ALREADY. I should point out, too, that it was 3 goals on 4 shots on two different goalies. Hiller lets in the first 2, gets pulled for Ramo, and Ramo lets in the 3rd before tightening up his shit and playing pretty solid after that.
Michael Ferland scores in the last few minutes of the 1st, and it’s 3-1 Canucks heading into the second.
In the second, Sean “ask me about my toaster” Monahan and Johnny “it’s an honor just to be nominated” Gaudreau tie the game up for the Flames. But Luca “my mom sneezed and out came this name” Sbisa dashes their hopes and dreams (for the moment) and pulls the Canucks out ahead again heading into the 3rd.
And then the 3rd period happens, and it was nonstop Flames. Jiri Hudler scores to bring it even again. Matt Stajan scores his first playoff goal of his career to give them the lead for the first time. And then Hudler and Ferland both get their 2nd goals of the night on the empty net for a little insurance, but it doesn’t matter.
For the series that has been the chippiest this whole playoffs so far, this game was pretty frickin clean. Only 10 minutes in penalties doled out, and a pretty low hit count. I’m not sure if Calgary just broke the Canucks will to live or if the Canucks just couldn’t catch up to them, but man. The Canucks had 11 blocked shots to the Flames 23, and that’s something they may want to address with their defense next season.
What we learned: Hockey twitter loves the Flames too. Or at least, WANTS to love the Flames.
(Some of them just want to watch the world burn, lets be honest.)