After a brief flirtation with the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Taylor Hall is back on the golf course as the New Jersey Devils have been eliminated from the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Five games is all it took for the Tampa Bay Lightning to defeat the Devils, who were back in the dance just one year after finishing dead last in the Eastern Conference. The team’s improvement is remarkable, to say the least; the Devils finished the season 10-4-2 to clinch the final playoff spot in the conference, and with Tampa Bay limping into the postseason with a 5-4-1 tally over their final ten games, New Jersey looked primed to upset the powerhouse Lightning.
tampa bay lightning
Day 11 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs saw one team move onto the second round as Tampa Bay eliminated New Jersey, one team took a step closer to moving on as Washington won the fourth game to go knto OT in their series, and the Leafs earned another game to stay alive with .
Here’s how it went down:
New Jersey 1-3 Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay wins series 4-1
— #GoBolts (@TBLightning) April 21, 2018
The Tampa Bay Lightning had the opportunity to eliminate the Devils and move on to the second round and they did not hesitate one bit. They totalled 38 shots on net, 10 in the first 18 in the second and 10 in the third period.
Mikhail Sergachev scored his first of the playoffs eight minutes into the game, rifling one home from the top of the circle for a 1-0 Lightning lead.
The scoring continued in the third period where Nikita Kucherov scored his fifth goal of the playoffs tying him for most in the post-season with Sidney Crosby.
Five minutes later the Devils got back into it with their net empty. Patrick Maroon scored his fourth goal as a Devil and his first of the playoffs to bring New Jersey within one.
Ryan Callahan added an empty net goal with two seconds left to seal the deal for Tampa Bay and send them to the second round.
Honorary mention to Cory Schneider who stood on his head in this game, especially late to give the Devils a chance and keep them in it until the last two seconds of the game. Schneider turned away 35 of 37 Lightning shots including some amazing glove saves late.
The Devils put up a fight but the offensive line-up of Tampa Bay was too much, outscoring New Jersey 18-12 in the series and held the Devils to one goal a game for the last two games of the series.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 21, 2018
Tamp Bay will play either Boston or Toronto in the second round, and regardless of who it is it should make one explosive series.
Columbus 3-4 Washington-OT
Washington leads series 3-2
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 21, 2018
This series has been one of the more exciting ones to watch with Columbus taking the first two on the road and Washington winning the next three, after Alex Ovechkin guaranteed his Caps would tie the series at two.
Ten minutes into the first period Ovechkin turned the puck over on the powerplay sending Matt Calvert on a two-on-one with Josh Anderson. Calvert opted to shoot and pushed it past Braden Holtby for a 1-0 Jackets lead.
Three minutes later Nicklas Backstrom banked a shot off Sergei Bobrovsky and over his back into the back of the net to tie the game at one in the first period.
Washington took the lead in the second period, catching Columbus on a change. The odd-man rush lead to Evgeny Kuznetzov putting one through Bobrovsky’s five-hole for his fourth goal of the playoffs and a 2-1 Caps lead.
Columbus tied it at two, one minute later, with the puck sneaking past TJ Oshie sending Calvert on a breakaway where he scored a lucky back handed goal on a spin move after fanning on his original shot.
— x – columbus blue jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 21, 2018
Oshie would redeem himself however, later in the second period as he tipped in a John Carlson shot in for his second powerplay goal in back to back games, giving the Caps a 3-2 lead.
Two and a half minutes into the third period, Oliver Bjorkstrand tipped an Ian Cole point shot past Holtby to tie the game at three, sending the game to overtime for the fourth time this series.
Both goaltenders turned away scoring chance after scoring chance in overtime with Braden Holtby turning away all six OT shots he faced and Sergei Bobrovsky seven of eight faced by the Caps.
Holtby made 39 total saves on 42 Columbus shots in the game, which is especially outstanding considering the Caps were outshot 16-1 in the third period alone.
With eight minutes left in OT Nicklas Backstrom scored his second of the game on another tipped shot from the point bringing Washington within one win of the second round.
Look for Columbus to come out hungry wanting to send this series to a seventh game, especially after a 42 shot game. Game 6 will take place in Columbus on Monday night.
Toronto 4-3 Boston
Boston leads series 3-2
— NHL (@NHL) April 22, 2018
With the Leafs having their backs against the wall, they were going to have a tough fight at the TD Garden Saturday night. Lucky for them them Nazem Kadri was back from his three suspension after Game 1.
The Leafs started out strong with their first line with Connor Brown scoring his first career playoff goal, batting a rebound out of mid-air, giving Toronto an early 1-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for Kadri’s presence to be felt, as he threw a perfect saucer pass through two Bruin’s defenders to Andreas Johnsson in front of the crease, who made a nice move around Tuukka Rask to score his first career playoff goal.
After Nikita Zaitsev took a tripping penalty to save a goal, the Bruins drew within one on the powerplay. David Backes scored his second of the playoffs 17 seconds into the man advantage, after the puck bounced in front of the net off the glass behind Frederik Andersen.
Toronto didn’t take long to pull ahead again, with Morgan Rielly breaking out with Tyler Bozak, threading a pass through the seam where Bozak finished it off glove side for a 3-1 Leafs lead.
Matt Grzelcyk was called for tripping on Mitch Marner one minute after the Bozak goal. On the powerplay, James van Riemsdyk roofed one over the shoulder of Rask.
The fourth Leafs goal was the last for Rask as he was replaced by Anton Khudobin, after making just nine saves on 13 shots.
Khudobin held his own early stopping two big scoring chances, setting up his team to get back into the game. On a defensive break-down by the Leafs, Sean Kuraly made it a two goal game, scoring his second of the playoffs.
Boston pulled within one, five minutes into the third period with Noel Acciari scoring his first of the playoffs making it 4-3. It wasn’t enough however, as the Leafs were able to hold on just long enough to force a Game 6 back at the ACC on Monday night.
Frederik Andersen was very impressive in this one making 42 saves on 45 shots. In an elimination game Andersen stood tall against all sorts of scoring chances from a Bruins team who were desperate to move onto the second round. Andersen’s performance was especially fascinating considering the Bruins had a total of eight powerplays and were only able to score on one. The Leafs netminder will be the backbone to them pushing for a Game 7.
We had a little bit of everything today.
Some great goaltending, plenty of goals, and even said goodbye to another Stanley Cup hopefully.
Better luck next year Anaheim.
Here’s how today went:
The offence wasn’t about to slow down on day six of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Leafs stayed alive to breathe some life back into their playoff hopes; the Devils did the same scoring three unanswered goals, Colorado got some revenge on Nashville lighting them up for five goals, and the Sharks dominated the Ducks for a 3-0 stranglehold on the series.
Heres what happened:
Written by: Liam Horrobin & Ian Sheppard
Apparently, defence doesn’t exist in day four of the Stanley Cup playoffs with 27 goals being scored in the first three games and five in the final game of the night.
Tampa continued to buzz against the Devils, and Nashville nudged out the Avs while the Bruins dismantled the Leafs, and the Sharks outlasted and outmuscled the Ducks.
Here’s how they went:
The 2017-18 season was a year full of surprises for some, and successful campaigns for others. The Eastern conference is currently stacked with a group of three or four elite powerhouse teams and a few underdog stories which when put together will create an exciting next three months of playoff hockey. Here’s a preview of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
It’s weird how things have gone for the Ottawa Senators. Less than ten months ago this organization almost made the Stanley Cup Finals, a little over three months ago they made a deal for Matt Duchene to try improve the team and then… well… %#!& hit the fan.
It’s gotten to the point where they’re set on dealing arguably the best player their organization has ever seen, and one of the best players in the league. Pure insanity.
Things have been a little weird around the NHL this season… actually, they’ve been a lot weird. Of course, we’re all aware of the big storylines. Vegas is doing the exact opposite of what everyone thought they’d do, Colorado is on pace to almost double their wins from last season, the Oilers and Habs have floundered and although they’ve cooled off lately the Tampa Bay Lightning are proving to be a legitimate Cup contender just a year after missing the playoffs.
Now usually by the all-star break, there is usually a group of two or three players who are clear-cut favourites for the Hart Trophy, but this year it’s different. You could honestly make the case for close to ten players to win the annual award, which is exactly what I’m about to do.
A red-hot start to the season propelled Nikita Kucherov to the top of the NHL’s scoring leaderboard and although the Lightning have cooled off, Kucherov is still producing at a strong rate.
Nobody on the Lightning produces more primary points than Kucherov, which again, speaks to how important he is to one of the NHL’s best offenses.
He forces turnovers and is responsible with the puck on his stick and that’s shown in his +10 give/take away differential thus far.
One specific area that propelled Tampa early this year was their powerplay. Not only has he produced with the man advantage, his 22 powerplay points are second only to Steven Stamkos, but he’s been a big reason why they’ve been able to go on the power play as much as they have. His 17 penalties drawn is a lot first on the Lightning.
The case against Kucherov would be how many good players the Lightning have had this year. You could argue that while he is crucial, the likes of Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and even Andrei Vasilevsky are just as important.
MILE HIGH PRODUCTION
The Av’s are red hot right now and Nathan MacKinnon has been leading the charge. Over the teams, current 9-1 run, the Nova Scotia product has put up 8 goals, 11 assists and thrown 42 shots on net.
As the year has continued, he’s also crawled closer and closer to Nikita Kucherov for first in the NHL’s point race. He now has 59 points in 46 games. One other stat that helps MacKinnon’s case is his 7 game-winning goals, which is tied for tops in the NHL.
While Jonathan Bernier and Mikko Rantanen have both played massive roles, it’s safe to say Colorado wouldn’t be experiencing this turnaround without #29.
THE BEAST FROM BROOKLYN
While most of the love around the Islanders has gone to rookie sensation Mathew Barzal, and deservedly so, not enough attention has been given to John Tavares.
Tavares is third in the NHL in goals and fifth in points. His production has been exceptional. He’s relied on in all facets of the ice and in all scenarios as well, which only adds to his case for being named the league’s MVP. He leads the teams forwards in 5v5 and 5v4 ice time and sits third in shorthanded time on ice. He also faces the toughest competition among Islanders forwards.
My final point on Tavares is that he makes players around him better. I know Anders Lee and Josh Bailey have both had stints with #91 in the past, but this year he’s helped them each hit new highs. Lee is second only to Alex Ovechkin in the goal-scoring race. Bailey has 12 goals through the first half of the season and is no doubt going to crush his former career high of 16.
BUT THERE’S MORE!
- You can’t ignore the role that Taylor Hall has played in New Jersey’s success this season. Although they’ve cooled off lately, the 18 point gap between him and the team’s second-leading scorer is the largest among all NHL teams. He’s the heart and soul of the Devils.
- The Boston Bruins have been another great story this year. Two of their longest serving players, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, have been huge reasons for their success. Both look like they’ll score over 30 goals this year and they could both easily become Hart Trophy winners with strong second halves.
- Early in the year, Mark Scheifele was leading the Jets, but since he went down with an injury Captain Blake Wheeler has taken over. His 54 points is good for fifth in the NHL and in the ten games, since Scheifele went down, Wheeler has put up 12 points and averaged over 19 minutes in seven of those games.
- You can’t ignore Alex Ovechkin in this conversation either. His 29 goals puts him in first in the NHL and work out to about 20% of the Capitals total output. That’s just insane. He’s scored one in every five of his teams’ goals. That screams MVP candidate. It also looks like he might hit 50 goals again, which only helps his case.
What’s the ceiling for this Winnipeg Jets team?
For this year, I think they could not only make it to the playoffs, but they could do some damage once they get to the big dance.
Is Steven Stamkos back to being the “Old Stammer”?
The entire Tampa Bay Lightning are incredibly hot right now, in large part thanks to the combo of Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.
Stamkos, of course, played just 17 games last season and has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons. But is the elite goal scoring Stamkos back? Well, I would argue he never really left. When you look at Stammers numbers, there has never been a decline.
Even though he played just 17 games last year, he still put up 9 goals and 11 assists. Even in the years when he’s been hurt, his points per game was never worse than 0.83.
Stamkos’ ability to score never seriously declined, he just struggled with injury. Now that he’s back to being 100%, I think we can expect the 27-year-old to put up elite numbers for a long long time.
Are Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones going to be NHLers down the road? Or do the Oilers need to continue adding to their d-core?
I haven’t watched Bear and Jones too much over their junior and brief pro-careers, but what I have seen out of the two is very promising. I think it’s very likely that the two will be NHL players in the near future. Are they top four quality? That’s yet to be determined.
With that being said, it’s win now time in Edmonton, if you haven’t noticed. Let’s focus on right now.
When Sekera comes back they’ll have:
So if they do acquire someone, who would you take out of the lineup? Or maybe there’s someone out of that group you trade? They have 6 capable NHL d-men, but I do believe there’s an upgrade to be made on the second pair. I think they’re one more d-man away from having a Stanley Cup caliber back-end.
I also don’t think the type of trade they’re looking for can be made in-season. So, my final answer is Bear and Jones will one day be NHLers, we just don’t know how good and for now, they need another d-man.
What’s a bigger surprise: Oilers & Habs struggles or the success of the Canucks & Golden Knights?
As much as I’m surprised that the Habs and Oilers aren’t playing better, teams go through slumps. It’s been a bad month for both of these teams, but I believe that Carey Price will eventually start stealing games for Montreal and the Oilers offense will click and they’ll start winning as well.
The Golden Knights doing THIS? It’s insane. Nobody saw this coming and not only is it good for the growth of the game in Las Vegas because winning attracts fans, but it’s good for George McPhee. Nevermind the obvious trade candidates like Nate Schmidt and James Neal, but players like Lucas Sbisa, William Karlsson, and Cody Eakin are becoming worth more and more with each passing game. That’s just as big for the future of this team as the wins are.
The Canucks are playing good, but I don’t care because eventually they’ll lose something crazy like 8 of 10 and plummet to the basement. It’s coming, trust me.