Around the NHL: Leafs can win their first playoff series since 2004 tonight, defending Stanley Cup champs on the brink of elimination, and more
Photo credit:Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
As we wait for the Edmonton Oilers to play Game 6 of their series with the L.A. Kings on Saturday, let’s go through the other stuff that’s been happening around the league during these playoffs…
The Edmonton Oilers lead the Los Angeles Kings 3-2:
What a funky series this has been. Three of the five games have already gone to overtime, and all but one of the games (Tuesday) finished with a close score.
The Oilers were on the verge of going down 3-1 in the series in Game 4, but overcame a three-goal deficit after the first period, as well as a goal to tie the game with about three minutes remaining. That appeared to be the spark that lit a fire under them, as they pounded the Kings 6-3 in Game 5.
Game 6 returns Saturday in Los Angeles. The Oilers have a chance to close out a tough series before either playing the Winnipeg Jets or the Vegas Golden Knights. If needed, the seventh game will be played on Monday, May 1st.
The Vegas Golden Knights lead the Winnipeg Jets 3-1:
Winnipeg had a great start in Game 1, beating the Knights in Vegas 5-1 in dominating fashion with 31 shots to their 17.
However, the Knights have won three straight games, giving them a 3-1 lead with two home games remaining. That doesn’t mean the Jets haven’t had their chances. The story of the playoffs has been huge comebacks and last-minute, game-tying goals.
Winnipeg managed both in Game 3, coming back from 4-1 down in the third period. This included a huge goal by Adam Lowry with 22 seconds remaining. However, the Knights finished the game in double overtime. Even Game 4 was relatively close, as it finished 4-2 due to a late empty net goal.
With that being said, it looks like the Knights could be the first team in the Western Conference to advance to the Semi-Finals, as they play at 8:00 PM MT on Thursday.
The Seattle Kraken lead the Colorado Avalanche 3-2:
If the Oilers played this iteration of the Avalanche in the 2022 playoffs, they could very well have won the Stanley Cup last season.
This isn’t to say that Seattle is a bad team. Phillipp Grubauer’s .918 save percentage is the fifth-highest in the playoffs. Moreover, they have great depth, even though they don’t have a superstar on the team.
To me, this series is up for grabs, even if Seattle has a chance to close the series at home in Game 6. At one point, the Avalanche had a 2-1 series lead after winning two straight games, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this series goes to Game 7.
Game 6 takes place on Friday at 8:00 PM MT.
Dallas Stars lead the Minnesota Wild 3-2:
There’s been an interesting correlation between the Oilers and the Stars during these playoffs. Dallas lost Game 1, Edmonton lost Game 1. Dallas wins Game 2, Edmonton wins Game 2. Dallas lost Game 3, Edmonton lost Game 3. Dallas wins Game 4, Edmonton wins Game 4. Dallas wins Game 5, Edmonton wins Game 5.
I’m not a betting man, but if Dallas wins on Friday, I wouldn’t be surprised if Edmonton wins on Saturday.
Either way, this feels like a Western Conference final in the making.
The Toronto Maple Leafs lead the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1:
Realistically, Tampa should be up 3-1 in the series. After the two teams split play in Toronto, Tampa took a 3-2 lead late in the third period of Game 3. What do they do? Well, they choke and allow a goal with a minute remaining, and proceed to lose the game in overtime.
That’s fine, they have a 4-1 lead with about 11 minutes remaining in the third period of Game 4. There’s no way Toronto is coming back, right? Well, they lost that game 5-4 in overtime.
On Thursday, Toronto has a chance to finish the team with three straight Cup appearances. If that happens, it would be their first Semi-Final appearance dating back to 2004 (I was six years old).
The good news is that they’ve been in the position before, and choked away a 3-1 series lead to the Montreal Canadians of all teams. Hopefully, Tampa can find a way to make this series last.
The Carolina Hurricanes lead the New York Islanders 3-2:
How isn’t this series finished? I’ve tried to get a glimpse at every series, but I’ve just had no interest in this one.
The Canes had a 3-1 series lead heading into Tuesday, but lost on home ice by the score of 3-2.
I really don’t want either team to go any further, as I’m a Detroit Red Wings connoisseur, and the Wings have the Islanders’ first-rounder. At the same time, I’m still not over 2006, so screw the Canes. Furthermore, both play an incredibly boring style of hockey, but a New York Islanders vs New York Rangers series would be quite entertaining… maybe.
Game 6 is on Friday.
The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are tied at 2:
The only series which is currently tied at the time this article is released, the Rangers won the first two in New Jersey, before the Devils fired back and won the next two at Madison Square Garden.
This is shaping up to be a good series against two geographical rivals, with Game 5 taking place on Thursday evening.
The Boston Bruins lead the Florida Panthers 3-2:
I wrote this in the first recap: “I don’t expect this will be a competitive series, as the Bruins were legitimately one of the best regular season teams of all time, while Florida just squeaked into the playoffs with 92 points (the worst for any playoff team). They may pull out a win on home ice, but this will be a short series.”
As you can imagine, I was incorrect. Florida has won not just one game, but two games in Boston. And now, Game 6 will shift to the Sunshine State, after they pulled out a 4-3 overtime win on Wednesday evening.
On top of this series actually being rather competitive, it has been the definition of “playoff hockey”. The vast amount of scrums/general shithousery after whistles in the third period would have been enjoyable, if I weren’t waiting for CBC to switch to the Oilers game.
Game 6 will be played on Friday.
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