Thursday, April 19, 2018

Morning Playoff Notes (Apr 19)

It was a dominating performance again by the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they shut out their cross state rivals at their own barn in Philadelphia, 5-0, to take a 3-1 series lead.  Any time the Flyers had any sort of pressure against the Penguins, the defense would quickly turnaround and skate back in the other direction to apply equal or more pressure and in a good number of cases, a goal would be scored.  The transition game was strong with those Penguins.

Matt Murray led the way with a 26-save shutout for 4 points, followed by Evgeni Malkin, who scored the winner and added an assist, and then Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel were all in with 2 points a piece.

For the Flyers, Sean Couturier did indeed miss Game 4 with what is believed to be a lower-body injury, he's still considered day-to-day, while Petr Mrazek has now been demoted to the press box, as Michal Neuvirth was activated from the IR on Wednesday and was backing up Brian Elliott for this one.

Game 5 goes early on Friday night, the 5pm MT game on CBC.

You can't say enough about the effort that the New Jersey Devils have been able to put in against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but that match-up on paper is really starting to translate to the action that is on the ice.  The Lightning capitalized on their chances in Game 4, like good offensive teams do, getting the better of the Devils, 3-1, at the Prudential Center.  The two teams will now go back to Tampa, with the Lightning having a 3-1 series lead of their own and for good reason.

Nikita Kucherov had a big night, scoring a pair of goals, including the winner, added an assist and he may have earned himself a call from the Department of Player Safety for a high hit, not unlike Drew Dougnty's, on Sami Vatanen.  Still, 4 points in the pool is a big high to leave on.  Box 17 forward J.T. Miller also had a good night, finishing with a goal and a pair of assists, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 27 saves for the win.

Vatanen, a Box 20 defenseman, not taken by anyone, left the game with an upper-body injury after the Kucherov hit, not to return.  His status for Game 5 is definitely questionable.

C'mon, let's make it three series in a row, where they finish up 3-1, heading back home to try and end it! "Okay," said the Predators, as they climbed on the 3-1 bandwagon on Wednesday night, holding on for dear life in the 3rd period. The Predators were doing more than enough early on against the Avalanche, Filip Forsberg getting the job started with a beautiful goal and then the defense going to work, defending well against a determined Avalanche power play.  The Predators added two more before the end of the 2nd, taking a 3-0 lead into the 3rd period, but then desperation started to work its way into Colorado's game.  The Avs managed to put a couple on the board, with still about nine minutes to go, but the Preds shut the door and held on for that 3-2 win.

Craig Smith got credit for the game-winner, Forsberg had one and one, Mattias Ekholm had a couple of helpers and Pekka Rinne made 31 saves for the win.  It may not have been the prettiest of finishes, but the job was done in the end.

The Avalanche lost their number two goalie, Jonathan Bernier, to a lower-body injury, as he was replaced by Andrew Hammond in this one.  It's hard to say whether or not Bernier could go for the Avs in Game 5 or else it'll be Hammond that likely gets the nod, but I'm sure the Avalanche are already hearing the death rattle on their season.

Two sweeps in the first round of the playoffs?  Both of them happening in the Pacific Division?  You better believe it!  The Ducks are done.  The San Jose Sharks put up a brick wall, named Martin Jones, in this series and he played exceptionally well, making 30 saves in the deciding game, as the Sharks took it, 2-1.  Tomas Hertl scored his second game-winner of these playoffs to be the only other notable player in this game and he did so, shortly after the Ducks tied the game up at one in the 3rd period, stomping out any momentum their opponents might have gained with tying the game up.

The Sharks were the favourite in this series, according to the pool, 35-26 were the selection totals between the two teams and that means quite a few teams have lost some (or some more) players.  Three teams are already down to 18 players, having lost three to the Kings and three to the Ducks, while only four teams in the pool have yet to lose a player.  Jakob Silfverberg and Brandon Montour were the most popular Ducks players lost, each were taken five times.

Well, that's two down... six more to go in this opening round!

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