After four games in the NHL playoffs, all series have had the same outcome. The Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, and Vegas Golden Knights are all up 3-1 in their respective series against the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche, and Vancouver Canucks.
It’s been a very interesting second round, because depending on your hockey philosophy, you could easily have picked the four teams behind at the moment to be the ones you chose to move on for vice versa. I guess that’s what happens when you get to the final eight teams, there are no genuinely bad teams.
That said, some of the teams have been making their opponents look really bad. I think a lot of people picked the Lightning and Golden Knights to move on to the third round — they’re arguably the two best teams in the NHL. With all due respect to Boston and Vancouver (ok, not really), I think it would’ve taken a lot of things to go right for them to win (though the Bruins seem to be getting a lot of that, particularly from the refs). The Canucks are a young team and they’ve definitely showed it in their series.
I definitely expected a much bigger fight from the Flyers and Avalanche, but phew, they’ve been getting schooled in the playoffs. For both teams, they’ve fallen behind early, gotten poor goaltending, and there’s not enough offense to make up for their shortcomings. Their opponents, the Islanders and Stars, are teams with few major flaws and have been able to play a consistent game all series.
For Colorado, they need to shore up their defense, it’s been awful without Erik Johnson. For the Flyers, they’ve been getting the chances, but they just can’t get over the hump offensively. I don’t know if it’s the goalies on New York, the Islanders defense, or the combination of both, but it’s really annoying and a daunting task for the Lightning in the next round if both teams get there.
Which team down 3-1 in their series surprises you the most?
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Dallas Stars 5, Colorado Avalanche 4 — DAL leads 3-1
This was the game where the Stars scored three goals before the Avs could get a shot, and they didn’t get their first shot of the game until 18 1⁄2 minutes in. They brought the game close in the second period, but like most games in this series, the Stars always kept them at arm’s length until the final horn. It sounded like a really defeating loss, as media desperately asked if reinforcements were coming back from injuries and head coach Jared Bednar gave them the classic “no one is coming” reply. [Recap]
New York Islanders 3, Philadelphia Flyers 2 — NYI leads 3-1
This was a game of the backups on the second half of a back-to-back and Thomas Greiss definitely out-played Brian Elliott. The Flyers were close all night long, but couldn’t get anything to stick offensively. Similar to the Stars series, the moment the Islanders get the lead, there’s no way for the Flyers to come back without overextending offensively and getting bit at the other end of the ice. In the recap, Isles fans are letting everyone know very loudly that at least they’re having fun. [Recap]
If they’re the matchup for the Lightning, it’ll be key to start with the lead and give Vasilevskiy easy nights — focus on fewer mistakes rather than more creative offense. It’s not going to take something special to beat them, it’ll take a mentality that is simple and consistent.
Vegas Golden Knights 5, Vancouver Canucks 3 — VGK leads 3-1
It was a back and forth game all night long, with neither team getting a two-goal lead at any point. Eventually, the Golden Knights pulled ahead in the third and kept it that way until the end.
BOX OUT YOUR MAN IN FRONT— Rhys Jessop (@Thats_Offside) August 31, 2020
Boston Bruins “@” Tampa Bay Lightning — TBL leads 3-1
7pm ET — CBC, SN, NBCSN, TVAS
Dallas Stars “@” Colorado Avalanche — DAL leads 3-1
9:45pm ET — SN, NBCSN, TVAS
Fingers crossed we get two series concluded by this time tomorrow.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are beating the Boston Bruins with depth. Killer depth. That analysis and more from last game’s Morning After Thoughts. [Raw Charge]
This is why in nearly every podcast I’ve appeared on this season I’ve stated that I don’t think Boston is the clear-cut best team in the league. In my mind, there were four teams that were tied for the best; Tampa Bay, Boston, Vegas, and Colorado. I had an underlying feeling St. Louis wasn’t as good this year, Philadelphia’s consistency worried me, Washington was not the same team as they were two years ago, Pittsburgh felt like they were on borrowed time, and Toronto was the embodiment of a pretender trying to be a contender.
There will be no supplementary discipline for Nick Ritchie for his hit on Yanni Gourde. Bah.
The Ritchie hit on Yanni Gourde Saturday was reviewed by @NHLPlayerSafety but no suspension. Hit was timed at less than .6 seconds from time puck was released, and they’ve never given discipline for hit less than .6, very rarely for late hit w/ no head contact. Penalty warranted— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) August 30, 2020
The Bolts are hanging out having fun in the soccer stadium in Toronto during their off days in the bubble.
A little bit of everything in the bubble. ⚽️⚾️ pic.twitter.com/EVRdI5QHCm— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) August 30, 2020
Elliotte Friedman published his 31 Thoughts column yesterday. Nothing on the Lightning, but lots of very interesting tidbits for news around the league. [Sportsnet]
6. Let’s talk some more about Arizona. This is not an easy job right now, but there will still be interest. There are only 32 of these positions, and they are coveted. The Meruelo family is in the casino business, which has been hammered by COVID-19. There’s been significant layoffs on the business side, and, last week, assistant coach John MacLean and video coach Steve Peters were let go. Several bonuses are due in September, including Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s. During their post-season appearance, players were upset about late payment of per diems. The goal will be to cut payroll and rebuild. The Coyotes have a tight cap situation for 2020-21, but then it eases. There’s also the matter of the NHL’s stiff punishment for prospect workout violations.
Will Florida ever be competent again? Peter Chiarelli?! Really???