With their 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals, the Philadelphia Flyers joined the Lightning at the top of the Eastern Conference Round Robin standings with four points. That means Ssturday's match-up between the two teams will determine the number one seeding for the first round of the playoffs. Nothing like a little extra pressure for what should have been a tune-up game.
It will be interesting to see if this changes the way Coach Jon Cooper handle his line-up. Prior to the round robin games he had mentioned that while he wanted to start Andrei Vasilevskiy every game in this round, he also wanted to get Curtis McElhinney a little work. Now, with the top seed at stake, he might need Vasilevskiy to play the entire game.
Last Night’s Results
Flyers 3, Capitals 1
The Flyers shut down the Capitals offense and took advantage of some defensive lapses by Washington to win their second game of the round robin portion. Scott Laughton scored twice while Brian Elliott made just 16 saves for the win.
Vancouver took the lead in the series behind Jacob Markstrom’s 27-save shutout. Quinn Hughes had three assists while Brock Boeser, Antoine Roussel, and Elias Pettersson scored. The Wild have yet to record a 5-on-5 goal in the series. That seems bad.
With the win, Vegas will face Colorado on Saturday to determine the number one seed in the Western Conference. In their two games so far they’ve scored 11 goals. That seems good. Marc Andre Fleury recorded 13 saves in the win.
Blue Jackets 4, Leafs 3 (OT)
After their loss in Game Two, John Tortorella summed up his team’s performance quite simply, “Toronto played well. We sucked.” Pierre-Luc Dubois prevented an encore performance from his head coach by scoring his third goal of the night in overtime. Columbus rallied from a 3-0 deficit to take a two-games-to-one lead in the series. The two teams are back in action on Friday.
Calgary becomes the second team to advance as they defeat the Winnipeg Jets three games to one in their play-in series. Cam Talbot made 31 saves and four different Flames scored in the victory. Winnipeg had their worked cut out for them heading into this series, after they lost Patrick Laine and Mark Sheifele in the first game the task became impossible.
12:00pm NHL.tv, NBCSN, FS-F, MSG+
The Panthers avoided the sweep on Wednesday. Now they will look to even the series while the Islanders hope to end things and pick up a couple of extra days of rest. This will come down to the goaltenders.
2:30pm NHL.tv, NHL Network, FS-A, FS-TN
The Coyotes relied on the same formula that brought them success in the regular season - just enough offense and solid goaltending. Darcy Kuemper made 39 saves in Game Three to bring Arizona a win away from advancing.
4:00pm NHL.tv, NBCSN, ATTSN-PT
Can Montreal complete the upset? They have been the better team for the entire series, but you can’t count out a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin until the final whistle blows. The Pens will need big games from their stars if they don’t want to leave the bubble before the weekend starts.
6:45pm NHL.tv, NBCSN, NBCSCH
See above. Edmonton is in the same boat that Pittsburgh is in. The only difference, their stars have been coming through. Of the 13 goals the Oilers have scored Connor McDavid has 5 goals and Leon Draisaitl has 3. Edmonton needs to tighten up the defense a little and pick up some scoring from other sources.
Toronto Maple Leafs “@” Columbus Blue Jackets (Columbus leads 2-1)
8:00pm NHL Network, FS-O
Columbus is doing their thing. Toronto needs to find a way to build a lead and keep it. The good news, the offseason won’t seem so long this year.
News from around the league
Should the NHL keep the expanded playoffs? Keep the first round at five games? ESPN argued the pros and cons of extending some of this year’s playoff aspects into future seasons. Based on the league’s usual lack of risk taking the answer will probably be no.
Anaheim has been busy in their off-season. On Thursday they locked up their last remaining restricted free agent when they signed defenseman Jacob Larsson to a two-year extension for $2.4 million. Having taken care of that business they’re ready for free agency, whenever that starts.
The NHL announced that Phase II of the Draft Lottery will take place on Monday, August 10th at 6:00pm. Each of the eight teams that lost in the Qualifying Round will have a 12.5% of seeing their lottery ball pop up indicating that they have the number one overall pick. My prediction - no one on Twitter will say - “That team really deserved the number one pick”.
According to Craig Custance and Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, the seven teams not currently playing have petitioned the league for a mini training camp to be scheduled some time before the official camps kick off in the middle of November.
It’s expected that those seven teams are requesting at least an additional two-week minicamp added before the start of training camp for the 2020-21 season that is similar to the training camp the other 24 teams received as part of the NHL’s return to play in July.
The Lightning like to score a lot of highlight reel goals. They understand that in the playoffs, those might be tougher to come by. Ugly goals count the same, and the type of play needed to get those can lead to them coming in bunches.
“Goals aren’t simple; they’re really hard to get,” coach Jon Cooper said. “To be rewarded from going around the net, it can get contagious. That’s what we want to see.”
Blake Coleman shared some information from inside the bubble with the NHLPA website.
“I found out quickly what I’m good at and what I need to work on. I’m undefeated in bocce ball, but winless in pickleball. I’m learning that might not be one of my strengths. I’m a good tennis player, so that’s been going well. There hasn’t been that much competing on days after games, but Sergy [Mikhail Sergachev] is going to play tennis now and some other guys are right back on the horse.”