Dust off those jerseys and skip out of work early*, the Tampa Bay Lightning are playing meaningful hockey this afternoon. Their quest for redemption and the Stanley Cup begins with a game against the Washington Capitals in Toronto. As of Sunday, Steven Stamkos wasn’t scheduled to play, but the rest of the team was.
Their game is one of six today as the NHL powers through it’s return to play. The weekend was filled with everything we’ve missed as fans: goals, saves, hits, fights, suspension-worthy plays, upsets, and upset coaches. If you binged on hockey this weekend and were looking for a little bit of a break, I have some bad news for you - things are only going to ramp up from here (at least for this week).
*Raw Charge is in no way responsible if you get in trouble for leaving work early. We will not write your boss a note.
The Western Conference continues its intriguing start as the Coyotes scored three times in the first period and held on to win the first game of the season. Taylor Hall had 2 assists while Darcy Kuemper made 40 saves.
One team showed up looking to be the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The other team was Boston. With Jaroslav Halak in net the Bruins gave up goals to Michael Raffl, Nate Thompson (!), Phillipe Myers, and Scott Laughton. Carter Hart made 34 shots, many of them coming late in the game when Boston pulled the goalie with just under four minutes to go.
Nazeem Kadri scored with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. That’s pretty dramatic for a round robin game.
Columbus shuts down a high-powered offense in the first round of the playoffs. We’ve seen this movie before, right? Joonas Korpisalo made 28 saves for, not only his first career postseason shutout, but also the first in franchise history. Good for him. Fredrick Anderson made 33 saves in the losing effort. Expect Toronto media and Twitter to handle this in a rational manner.
Another shutout to end the long day of hockey. This time it was Alex Stalock shutting the door with 28 saves while Jared Spurgeon scored two goals.
Today’s Other Games
12:00 pm EST NBCSN, NHL.tv, FS-CR, MSG
The Rangers made it a close game in their first match-up, thanks to the play of Henrik Lundqvist. Carolina looks to seize control of the series with another win. Hopefully, there is a little more 5v5 play than we saw in their first meeting.
2:30 pm EST NBCSN, NHL.tv, NHL Network
This series went nuclear awful fast. Matthew Tkachuk’s hit on Mark Scheifele set the tone early. Winnipeg will look to extract some revenge and even up the series with both Scheifele and Patrick Laine (who left the third period favoring his wrist) on the sidelines.
6:30 pm EST, NHL.tv, ATTSN-RM, FS-SW, NHL Network
Two Western Conference teams look to finetune their game. Vegas has to figure out who will be in net and Dallas has to figure out who will put the puck in the net.
8:00 pm EST, NBCSN, ATTSN-PT
Montreal won the first game when noted goal scorer Jeff Petry banged one home in overtime. Carey Price made 39 saves in the win. Was it step one in their upset bid or will the Penguins come roaring back?
10:30 pm EST, NBCSN, NHL.tv, NBCSCH
Chicago showed that they’re not going to be an easy out for the Oilers as they shocked everyone by scoring four times in the first period and then two more to take the 6-4 win. Connor McDavid had 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in the loss while Mikko Koskinen made 18 saves in relief of Mike Smith.
News and Notes from around the game
One day, one suspension. Drake Caggiula of the Chicago Blackhawks received a one-game suspension from the NHL for his hit on Tyler Ennis in game one of their series. [NHL Player Safety]
There hasn’t been a suspension yet, but Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice left no doubt that, in his mind, Matthew Tkachuk’s hit on Mark Sceifele was not an accident. [CBS Sports]
“It was intentional,” Maurice said. “It was a filthy, dirty kick to the back of the leg. You can’t see it on the program [camera] feed, but you take the blue-line feed and you zoom in. He went after the back of his leg. Could have cut his Achilles [tendon]. Could have ended the man’s career. It’s an absolutely filthy, disgusting hit.”
Matthew Dumba expanded on his speech prior to the Chicago/Edmonton game on Saturday. He spoke about kneeling for the U.S. anthem, the negative feedback, and the support he’s received from his teammates and from around the league. He mentioned that he planned on raising his fist during the anthems throughout the series (which he did in Game One). [Minnesota Star Tribune]
“Keep it coming,” Dumba said [of the negative criticism]. “It kind of sheds a light on them and the people that follow them. Their friends, their family, can see their beliefs and how they view the world and see the negative light that they’re trying to shed on this. For all the people who have the courage in their fingertips sitting behind a keyboard, I know half the stuff you wouldn’t say to my face if I was standing right in front of you.
With the San Jose Sharks out of the playoffs, they’re facing a pretty long layoff. Rumors are circulating that Joe Thornton might knock some of the rust off by playing for a team in Switzerland until the 2020-21 NHL season kicks off. He is currently an unrestricted free agent, but if he wants to play, it’s likely that the Sharks would find a place for him. [Yahoo Sports]
Never forget how bad JustinG. is at predicting things. Yesterday he tackled the Qualifying Round match-ups. It’s not going well. [Raw Charge]
Steven Stamkos most likely won’t be in the game against the Capitals on Monday. He also hasn’t practiced in a few days. Are we at the point of worrying yet? Not quite, last week Coach Cooper had said that if Stamkos got into one of the round robin games he’d be happy. So, no need to start hyperventilating just yet. Still, it’s than ideal that there isn’t more clarity to the situation. [Tampa Bay Times]
Cooper, asked if he still hoped Stamkos would be ready for the start of the playoffs’ first round next week, said, “Yeah, we’re always hopeful.”
Blake Coleman is providing The Athletic with a look inside the NHL’s bubble. He covers the activities, the testing process, and staying in touch with his family. [The Athletic]
You see guys from other teams at the hotel, but for the most part, guys stick with their teams and their own groups. I’ve been with our guys; we go to dinners together or play games. I’ve got buddies on different teams I’ve said hello to, but for the most part, guys are staying within their own teams.
It’s game day. Enjoy (but continue to wear your mask and wash your hands).