top of page

We're on to the second round!  Let's hit the first four days of action.


The Capitals must have spent a lot of time figuring out the most heartbreaking way they could lose Game 1 against the Penguins in front of their home crowd.  The jumped out to a lead one their first shot of the game then extended the lead less than a minute into the third.  I'll give you one guess as to where both goals were scored.  These two saves are going to come up on a number of highlight reels but if Murray had just simply caught the puck he would have never had to make the big desperation save at all.  He almost got caught with this lazy stick work.  Two things wrong with this.  First, the puck should never have gotten through the crease to begin with.  The second is that Murray brought his stick back so, at the point of contact between the puck and stick, there became a danger that the puck could deflect right off his own stick and go between his legs.  Murray needs to keep his stick jammed up on the post or at/near the goal line where there is no chance the puck can deflect back in on him.  Murray stopped 32 of 34 but he made more work for himself and his Achilles' Glove is starting to rear its ugly head early in the playoffs.  Look at how far out Murray is on the second goal and he doesn't even get a piece of the puck.


Meanwhile, Holtby had the Pens number for the first two periods, stopping the first 19 shots he faced including this robbery of Jake Gretzky/Guentzel.  The Pens then proceeded to score on 3 of their next 4 shots.  The first was a great deflection.  The second he would most likely want back as Crosy slipped one underneath him.  Ovechkin did a nice whiff job on the pass across as well.  Guentzel got his revenge, deflecting home a sharp angle shot from Crosby that seemed to catch Holtby by surprise.  This one's trickier since it was deflected by at that angle there isn't much reason to open up as it just creates holes as we saw on the goal.  Overall, Holtby played solid for most of the game but not quite at the level we saw against the Blue Jackets.


I think the Caps have finally caught on about Murray's glove.  Just 1:26 into the game, Ovechkin slipped a routine wrist-shot from outside the top of the circles past Murray's glove.  Later in the first, Jakub Vrana "elevatored" a shot over Murray's glove in tight.  That's all the Caps would need but they were able to get one more, you guessed it, high glove side that Murray whiffed on.  The Achilles' glove has reared its head.  The Trojan Penguins Empire might finally come crashing down after all.  Holtby bounced back from Game 1 and stopped 32 of 33.  Just when the Caps looked like they might start to blow another two goal lead, the refs called back a wraparound goal (it was really difficult to see if the puck went in but my judgement was probably not and it's definitely too inconclusive to overturn).  Letang floated a shot through traffic that caught Holtby but it was the only shot that beat him as he looked like vintage Holtby for most of the game.


Well, it took all of 11:43 of game time for the Sharks to double the amount of goals they've allowed in this year's playoffs.  The Golden Knights didn't even get that many shots but they cashed in on the chances they had, getting a nice deflection, a quick wrister through traffic, another nice shot shortside, and then someone named Alex Tuch literally skated through the entire San Jose Sharks team and buried it past Jones.  It's hard to fault Jones completely but those are all stops he's been making through the first round.  He came up with some nice stops in the 2nd period but got sent to the bench after the Sharks hung him out to dry one last time.  Aaron Dell came in relief and stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced.


On the other side of the ice, March-Andre Fleury continued his refusal to allow a puck to get by him.  He followed up his shutout to close out round one with a 33 save goose-egg to start round two.  He's now stopped 62 straight shots and hasn't given up a goal in the past 122 minutes of game time.  If he doesn't come back down to Earth, it won't matter if the Knights score 7 goals or 1.


Game 2 was a barn burner that saw Fleury and Jones trading saves in the first period until the Knights took advantage of bumper boards to cash in on Martin Jones.  Karlsson doubled up early in the second by whipping a shot through Jones' glove.  The Sharks answered less than two minutes later when Brett Burns got a deflection through traffic that found some space between Fleury's legs.  Fleury fought off a couple of Sharks chances but Logan Couture was able to put a one-timer by him to tie it up.  Notice the lack of push Fleury was able to get and the amount of net he is automatically giving up coming out of that RVH.  The Sharks continued to roll and took the lead on a wraparound from Burns.  One of the Vegas Defensemen pushed a Shark forward into Fleury to inhibit his ability to get over and make the stop.  Jones whiffed on a slapshot from the point and into overtime we went where Fleury and Jones traded saves until the Knights buried a rebound with three minutes to go.  The goal got called back due to goaltender interference (the correct call) and into Double Overtime we went.  A blatant penalty gave the Sharks a power play and Logan Cotoure struck again, giving the sharks the win.  Not the prettiest of games for goaltenders but it was exciting to watch, that's for sure.


Connor Hellebyuck almost extended his shutout streak to three games but the Predators were finally able to crack him 1:23 into the third period but Hellebyuck stopped the next 10 to close out the 4-1 win.  We saw Martin Jones set an all-time Sharks playoff record with 45 saves in Round 1.  Hellebyuck's 47 saves were, unsurprisingly, a Winnipeg Jets playoff record.


Pekka Rinne had a tougher time, allowing 3 goals on just 16 shots.  The goals weren't entirely his fault - he made a nice initial save on the first goal, same with the second though it didn't help that he ended up on his but so quick, and the third was a nice shot from Mark Scheifele but one we usually see Rinne stop.  He got pulled after during the second intermission and the Predators allowed just two shots in the entire third period.


There was no shortage of shots or goals in Game 2 as both teams battled into overtime to combine for 91 shots and 9 goals.  Ryan Johansen opened up the scoring just 27 seconds into the game, catching Hellebyuck too deep in his net and down too early.  The Jets answered when Dustin Byfuglien beat Rinne five-hole (drive those pads down kids!).  They played bumper boards to take the lead though Rinne did not do a great job of squaring up and driving back to the post.  The Predators were able to tie it up when PK Subban blasted one through a perfect screen to beat Hellebyuck.  The Jet's looked to take the lead when Andrew Copp grabbed a rebound and pulled it around Rinne but the goal was waved off due to goaltender interference (I've watched it a number of times and don't know where the interference happened).  Hellebyuck would like the third goal back I'm sure as someone named Viktor Arvidsson ripped a slapshot by him on the shortside down the wing to give the Predators the lead.  Rinne might feel the same as the third goal beat him on a relatively weak shot to the far side.  The Predators had his back though as they answered just 35 seconds later to regain the lead when Ryan Johansen skated right around the Jets defender and went bar down while Hellebyuck was extending his stick for a poke check.  The Preds were able to hold the lead until Mark Scheifele banged home a one-timer with just 1:05 to go.  After somehow going scoreless in the first overtime, Kevin Fiala swept one on his backhand past Hellebyuck to give the Predators the win.  Hellebyuck was way to quick to slide and dragged his back leg on the play and it cost him as he was unable to follow the move from the forehand to the backhand.  Numbers-wise, neither goalie was terrible but both had a few beat them that they would most likely want back.


The Lighning and Andrei Vasilivskiy looked human in Game 1 against the Bruins.  Vasilivskiy caught a wicked bouncer that snuck through his five-hole then got hung out to dry.  Rick Nash smoked a wrist shot by him on the third.  Brad Marchand put him a nice deflection on the 4th but Vasilevskiy's choice to stand up straight and try to look over everyone on screen situations does not allow him to move into the shot at all.  He had a goal called back on him, which I cannot find video of, that was a drastic RVH fail.  The pass came from the corner to the high slot near the right circle and Vasilevskiy got no push off the post and was beat high to his glove side.  The goal got called back because the Bruins committed a penalty just before the goal but take note about how Vasilevskiy tends to overuse that RVH move.


Rask looked strong in Game 1.  He stopped 34 of 36 including some big saves in a one-goal game.  One of the weirder things happened on the second goal.  Rask made a save with his toe and the shot knocked his skate blade off of his skate.  Rask was unable to push with his left foot and gave up a goal from the point on which he made little effort to stop.  The rule, referenced here, seems to be that play should have continued and the announcers were quick to point out the refs will stop play if the goalie loses his helmet but not his gloves (or apparently skate blade).  This doesn't seem very consistent as I've see NHL refs blow a play dead if the goalie loses a glove and Rask himself said that the refs told him they would have stopped play if they had noticed the skate blade had come off.  I can see both sides and it should most likely be a judgement call on the part of the refs.  Ultimately, the score didn't make a difference in the outcome of the game as that was the last goal Rask allowed and the Bruins cruised to a 6-2 victory.

bottom of page