We had to say goodbye to our beloved Maple Leafs rookies, but our hearts will go on! There are more rookies to explore in these playoffs and we will start with:
Spoiler: He still leads in playoff goals, but now he has 7 goals instead of 5 (as seen in yesterday's Sports Staturday!). He is one of three players to score 7 or more goals in their first 7 playoffs games. By the way, those other two include Maurice 'Rocket' Richard and Dino Ciccarelli. He's just surrounded by elite company everywhere he goes.
Guentzel recorded 3 points (2 G, 1 A) in yesterday's attack of the Capitals and had another point, an assist, in Game 1.
He is a combined +4 in the series so far. Guentzel had only played one regular season game vs. the Capitals and recorded an assist in that game, but was -1. My how times have changed for the rookie.
Skjei scored two goals in last night's devastating double overtime loss for the Rangers. That makes him the first since Brian Leetch in 1995 to score at least two playoff goals in a game as a Rangers defenseman.
Skjei is tied for third in the league for his 4 playoff goals and leads ALL defensemen and his own team in that category. That's right, this guy has as many goals as Sidney Crosby AND Alex Ovechkin. The Rangers could use a little more of his star power but they also need to help him out if he's a defenseman scoring most of their offense. He is doing it all and living the dream, well most of it.
Montour got his second assist of the playoffs in Game 1 on Patrick Eaves' goal. In that game, Montour was tied for second among Anaheim defensemen with 3 shots on goal and was third in ice time at 22 minutes. Montour did well in the last series, stepping up his game as a defenseman in the presence of all the injured defensemen that Anaheim had. Now, he is still valued for his ice time and has proved himself worthy enough to be a trusted member of the defense.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Fiala will not return in the playoffs after he fractured his femur in Game 1 and was stretchered off the ice. The left winger had 2 goals in the first round series vs. Chicago. We hope that he heals well and he will be able to get back to what he loves safely and smoothly after he heals.
Smashville goes primetime this afternoon! Get ready to hear chants of all kinds and maybe see some famous faces at the game. This one will again be physical and dramatic because that's just how these teams work. It's definitely worth the watch.
Anaheim is in trouble as they head to Edmonton tonight. Will they do the unthinkable and win it in Edmonton?! A sea of orange is not a strange sight for either team so maybe that can help. Cam Talbot is playing his best right now and that is everything the Oilers could want right now. This will be interesting.
"Teams don't score a lot of goals because it's the playoffs. The best teams won't let that happen!"
Uh huh. Tell that to the combined 19 goals yesterday. Yep. It all adds up to 19. And two teams managed to score 6 goals. Welcome to the East?
I will not say too much about this because it's a real heartbreaker for Caps fans and no one wants to go through that. Maybe they will respond better in the next game after being woken up in this one?
This series is just great by how evenly matched these teams are, despite Ottawa having the 2 game lead. Can't blame New York for lack of trying because they definitely did.
Will the Sens go 2-0 at home today? Will Sid vs. Ovi continue to earn its top billing?
Way to make things interesting! Blues snapped the Predators' winning streak at home in St. Louis and now will travel to Nashville... or Smashville because it's the playoffs... you have been warned.
Will the home team actually win today?
Rested, relaxed, and ready to go into another round of the playoffs! Get ready for overtime, tensions, game winning goals, fantastic saves, and more!
Get ready to see America's heros/heartbreakers (depends on how you see it) take on the team that is always SO close to the Cup. Meet me in St. Louis to see this epic series begin.
Think that palm trees are relaxing and calm? Think again as Connor McDavid and friends come into Anaheim to try and mark their names into postseason history. Would rather "Paint It Orange" or do you prefer "Orange Crush"?
Prediction Time! Here are the teams that I picked to go to the Conference Round. I picked all but two teams last time but my game totals were pretty off so I hope that this round will be better!
Nashville vs. St. Louis
I originally picked this as Chicago vs. St. Louis but I was wrong about that so bear with me as I pick a new winner! I think that Nashville can continue their great play into the second round against St. Louis.
They do not have the home ice advantage but they don't care about that. They just took down a giant and they are ready to take down a franchise that can never seem to take control of the playoffs.
Jake Allen is a great goaltender and looked great against Minnesota but Pekka Rinne is also great and he did much better in the last series vs. Chicago's elite snipers.
St. Louis is good and all but history can repeat itself just like all the other years before and Nashville definitely has an edge that is dangerous right now.
Anaheim vs. Edmonton
This series will be huge because both teams are tough, with Edmonton's youth movement and Anaheim's mix of youth and experienced players.
John Gibson will have to be nearly perfect for Anaheim to win because Edmonton is great offensively while Anaheim needs help in that area. Anaheim's defense is almost back to full strength but their young players have excelled in their heightened positions (hello, Shea Theodore!).
I am picking Anaheim for this because they are a really good team. They had some not-so-great games vs. Calgary but they found a way to win. Calgary is totally different than Edmonton though as the Oilers have CONNOR MCDAVID and Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl knows how to score against the Ducks but Rickard Rakell has had some great goals against the Oilers too.
Expect to see great goals and great goaltending (Talbot and Gibson will be stretched to their thresholds).
New York vs. Ottawa
Both teams had even contests in the first round against Boston and Montreal. New York improved in their home playoff games and were great on the road, but I am picking Ottawa to win this one.
They are slightly better defensively on the goaltending side (Anderson is doing better than King Henrik?! What?!) because they have a goals against average of 2.56 compared to 2.63 and a save percentage of .926 versus .923. On defense, they have Erik Karlsson, a Norris Tropy finalist again this year. That should be enough for them to remain strong against New York's offense.
Washington vs. Pittsburgh
Sid vs. Ovi! I feel like we saw this last year... oh wait! I originally picked this as Toronto vs. Pittsburgh but Washington had other plans... I still thought Pittsburgh would win and I stand by that.
Unlike Washington, they know how to get to the Cup and not disappoint in the playoffs. Crosby has an advantage over Ovechkin and he will continue his magic in this series. Also, Jake Guentzel is shining in his playoffs debut which shows just how powerful of an influence that Crosby is on the ice. I would expect the best from this series as the two best players face off with two great goaltenders behind them.
Round One officially ended last night, thanks to Washington winning their series in overtime... or no thanks if you were rooting for Toronto in that series.
NO games today but they will start on Wednesday at 8 pm ET in St. Louis as Nashville comes to town... should be interesting.
Goodbye, Bruins... and Leafs... We will miss your amazing rookies. *Sobs uncontrollably* But we can carry on.
Yes, I'm still sad about this and I will miss Marner-Matthews-Nylander so much! I will also miss Kapanen and the other rookies on the team who stepped up and still remained underrated (my fault on that). Imagine how this team can grow in the next few seasons and then we will see the new team to fear in the playoffs.
The fun never ends with amazing rookies stepping up in big games!
All it took was two games for the Capitals to mentally prepare themselves for the offensive power that is Auston Matthews. In his last three games this week, Matthews had four points (3 G, 1 A). In Game 5, his goal sent the game into overtime that his team eventually lost in.
I hope to see as much Matthews as the playoffs allow us because he is a truly special player that deserves to prolong an already amazing first season.
Last Sunday, Guentzel gave fans in Pittsburgh the Easter gift they always wanted: a hat trick AND the game-winning goal in OT. Guentzel's hat trick put him in elite company with Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Alex Ovechkin, and linesmate Sidney Crosby. Guentzel continued his scoring in the next game with his fifth goal of the playoffs. Thanks to his efforts in Game 3, the Penguins went on to win in 5 games.
Need another awesome rookie story? Look no further than Sean Kuraly's double overtime goal! Kuraly scored the game-tying goal in the second period of Game 5 and the score just stayed like that until he once again made the right shot and won the game. He tied for the team-leading 6 shots on goal that game. The Senators had a chance to clinch the series but Kuraly said no and now they play today to save their lives once again.
McAvoy got his first NHL point in Game 3, an assist on David Pastrnak's goal that kept the game alive until OT. Behind every great goal are the great players who assist it and McAvoy happened to assist Kuraly's life saving goal. He also is playing big minutes on defense, ranging from 24:44 to 31:14 this week.
Shea hey, kid! Theodore scored TWO crucial goals in the Ducks' comeback win in Game 3 in Calgary. Does the C of Red bother Shea? No way. He made the comeback more likely with a goal towards the end of the second to get momentum and hope back to his team after giving up 4 goals. Then, his goal at the end of regulation gave his team a chance to complete the comeback in overtime. Theodore had a great first round with 5 points (2 G, 3 A).
Who's Moving On?
Brady Skjei- Rangers
Jake Guentzel- Penguins
Ivan Barbashev- Blues
Juuse Saros- Predators
Shea Theodore- Ducks
Brandon Montour- Ducks
Anton Slepyshev- Oilers
Zach Werenski (Columbus)- May his face rest in peace.
Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary)- His fiery soul was quieted in the playoffs with no scoring... if only the Kings made it and he faced them.
Marcus Sorensen (San Jose)- He needs to tell the Cup the way to San Jose again.
Congratulations to Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, and Zach Werenski on being named finalists for the Calder!
One century of this game and League is a wonderful milestone to celebrate. Let's hope to do this in the next century!