No team wants to go home in the first round, but for four teams, all that hard work during the regular season will mean nothing. A case could be made neither should be starting for their team.
Tampa Bay's top-ranked power-play unit has failed in all five opportunities in in the series. The Columbus Blue Jackets are averaging four goals per game and are scoring on 50 percent of their power play opportunities. Pavelski was credited with the first goal of the game on Wednesday night, but the three-time All-Star didn't even need his stick to do it. It certainly was on television, as Tampa Bay, who should have an extreme amount of confidence based on their season results, was outplayed the last two periods by Columbus and was anything by confident the final five minutes of the game. It's so special. He is so good, it is just such a pleasure to watch him play and to be on his team.
The Toronto Maple Leafs must once again go through Boston to make it to the next round, and once again, they won't be able to get past them. Despite the Islanders having a better regular season, this would be a shock to objective hockey fans given the playoff experience and firepower of the Penguins. They are going to need more than Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn to come through to have a chance in this series. Led by John Tavares' 47 goals and followed by Auston Matthews' 37, this team has no problem shooting the puck.
Identifying the power play as a problem, GM David Poile brought in a big net-front presence in Brian Boyle (who was also sought after for his defensive acumen) and Wayne Simmonds (a player well-known for his resume of power-play prowess, though that's faded recently).
The highly anticipated match-up between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs did not disappoint as four of the six games ended in dramatic sudden death overtime with the series victor coming off the stick of Brad Marchand. Jake Muzzin and Jake Gardiner will both be ready for the playoffs, but even with those two back and healthy, the Bruins defence is still better.
Also, some of the Lightning's younger players really stepped up in Game 1. Add in Mitch Marner and an effective William Nylander, and you have yourself a lot of scoring power.
"The regular season is different than the playoffs", Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. We'll just see how our response is tomorrow.
Moving onto the defending champs in the Washington Capitals going up against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have a chance to be the surprise of the playoffs by snagging a 2-0 series lead on the clear favorites to win the Stanley Cup. I think this matchup will be the closest, but I have to go with the Bruins in seven. The Penguins haven't had the greatest of seasons, but they still have the individual talent to get through to the second round. They also allowed just 28.6 SA/GP, good for third fewest in the league. Malkin's goal was his 63rd in the playoffs, breaking a tie with Bobby Hull for sole possession of 26th place on the NHL's career list. He finished the season with a 2.39 GAA and a.917 SV%.
With his team controlling play for much of the third period, St. Louis' Patrick Maroon created a turnover with his effective forecheck and sent the puck to the slot for Bozak. Everything is going right, from great team chemistry, to wonderful perseverance throughout the games, to determined leaders, showing the team how to get it done, and get it done right.
- Liverpool's Klopp condemns 'disgusting' Salah abuse ahead of Chelsea clash
- Netanyahu wins 5th term as Israeli PM: final results
- Barr returns to Capitol Hill, where he'll face more Mueller questions
- Verstappen threatens Vettel: I'll screw up Ferrari's qualifying from now on
- Harry Kane to miss 3 months, Dele Alli has fracture
- JUST IN: Sudan military bows to pressure, steps down
- Samsung Galaxy S10 5G Has a Hard Time Using… 5G
- Redmi Y3 to come with 32-megapixels selfie camera
- Valtteri Bottas on pole for Chinese GP after pipping Lewis Hamilton
- Former NFL Player Arrested Following The Death Of His Girlfriend's Daughter