Monday, May 05, 2014

A Weekend Worth of the Second Round

The value of playing that "60-minute game" everyone talks about has been skyrocketing in these NHL playoffs, as teams that take their foot off the pedal with leads, usually finds themselves in hot water before the final buzzer goes.

On Saturday afternoon, the Montreal Canadiens were guilty of not playing all the way through and it cost them a 2-0 lead, heading back home to the Bell Centre.  At the 6:30-mark of the 3rd period, the Canadiens went up 3-1 on a Thomas Vanek power play goal, but less than five minutes later, the wheels came off.

Three Bruins goals in 5:32 had the home team up 4-3, then an empty-netter sealed the deal at 5-3, as Boston stormed through the Montreal defense and lit up their number one goalie, heading to Montreal with the series tied at one game a piece.

Patrice Bergeron, Reilly Smith, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask all walked away with 2 points from Game Two on Boston's side, while P.K. Subban and Vanek each did the same on the Montreal side of the ledger.

Game Three of the series doesn't go until Tuesday night, when it's the early game on the CBC.

More late-game heroics to mention out of Game One of the series between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles, as a 2-1 lead for Anaheim was demolished by a Marian Gaborik goal with only 7 seconds left on the clock, sending the game into overtime.  Sure enough, it was Gaborik again, coming up huge with the game-winner to take an early series lead for the visiting team from down the freeway.

Of course, being a trade deadline acquisition for the Los Angeles Kings, Gaborik was easily passed over for the selection sheet, as his name doesn't show up, rather a player like Dwight King sits in Box 7, collecting dust.  So, if you're kicking yourself for not picking Gaborik on the sheet, you shouldn't worry... no one else did either.

A player that you could pick from the Kings, to which five teams did, was Anze Kopitar, who had 3 assists in Game One, making a big impact in this all-California series.  Jonathan Quick, who was taken 13 times, made 33 saves for the win.  In a losing effort, Ryan Getzlaf also picked up a couple of assists to earn a mention on the post.

Game Two will go on Monday, in the late game, as the Ducks try to bounce back and salvage a win to go to Los Angeles with a split.

If one series is going to be dominated by a team in this second round, it was likely going to be the Chicago Blackhawks dominating the Minnesota Wild, because they were certainly doing it on paper heading in.

Sure enough, Game One was a bit of a wash at 5-2 for the Blackhawks and then Game Two, which went on Sunday afternoon, didn't fare much better for the visitors, as the Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead into the final frame, where the Wild were cheeky enough to get one goal early on, before the Blackhawks put their feet down in the final three minutes to salt it away.

Brandon Saad led the way for the Blackhawks, as he scored a pair of goals, including the winner, for a 3-point effort on the night.  Bryan Bickell, who has been on quite the hot streak, also picked up 3 points for himself, a goal and a pair of assists, while Marian Hossa had 3 helpers.  Niklas Hjalmarsson and Corey Crawford rounded out the notable scoring for the Blackhawks, with 2 points each.

The Wild are not necessarily in trouble until they lose a game at home, which they will have their first opportunity to defend, on Tuesday night, as the later game on TSN.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, who have been the recipient of most of the criticism for not playing 60-minute games, came up with a fantastic effort against the New York Rangers to tie the series up at one game a piece, thanks to a 3-0 win.

The Penguins did a good job of limiting the number of quality chances that the Rangers had in Game Two and when the visitors broke free from the stranglehold, Marc-Andre Fleury was superb in the net, stopping all 22 pucks that came his way for the shutout and 4 points in the pool.

Taking a point from every goal in the game, including scoring the winner, was defenseman Kristopher Letang, who also had a 4-point night for the Pens.  Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist to round out the notables in this game.

The Penguins and Rangers go right back at it on Monday night, as they take the short trip back to the Big Apple for Game Three and it will be the early game on CBC.  There has been a little bit of animosity between these two clubs and a short turnaround for a game will likely help that to shoot off some more fireworks.

Game-Winning Goals
New Playoffs Game Winner ButtonThree out of the four game-winners on the weekend were able to stay in the Playoff Pool, which is good news for those keeping track.  Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins, Brandon Saad of the Blackhawks and Kristopher Letang for the Penguins all kept the bonus points in, while Marian Gaborik of the Kings took one away from the pool on Saturday night.

Pool leader, Don D., now has a single bonus point lead on Sheldon M. in the pool, as they are now beginning to run away with this mini competition.  Don's team has 12 winners, while Sheldon's has 11 and then there is six teams with nine.

ImplicationsDon's lead shrunk over the weekend, as it has dropped down to 8 points, as Tom H. has made a solid move into 2nd place with 142 points, through Sunday's action.  Dale B. now holds the 3rd place spot with 139 points, 1 point up on both Brady J. and Chris J..

Three teams lead the pool in second round scoring with 33 points.  Tom H., Dale B. and Corey M. all have seen some good results thus far.

What will the rest of the week hold for these hot teams?  Hopefully, the games this week remain high scoring, as there is nothing more fun than putting points into the pool spreadsheets.

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