Re-cap from last night’s action:
Hurricanes – Rangers : The goalies came out strong in this series with both squads testing each other. Antti Raanta out duels Igor Shesterkin to take this one in OT. Both tendies had some AMAZING saves that will make your groin hurt just from watching. Stretch Armstong in real life! Huge goal from Ian Cole, who might be getting a nice fine from the league for an egregious cross check that wasn’t called earlier in the game on Tyler Motte. Who feels worse this morning though, him or Ryan Lindgren? His ill-fated tip sent the puck into his own goal for the OT winner. This series should keep the excitement going, but it feels like higher scoring games await us. K’Andre Miller is a fantastic defenseman and his play attempting to shut down Sebastian Aho and company might be the key here. Series prediction? #Caniacs help lead the way and keep Raleigh rocking in a 7-game series victory for Carolina.
Flames – Oilers: Wow, NHL ’22 anyone?? Video game numbers in this one with scoring and hitting left and right all night long. Edmonton comes out sleepwalking with a terrible turnover and zero effort to remedy the turnover by Evander Kane on the 3rd goal. To his (and the Oilers) credit, an awakening happened after the switch from Mike Smith to Mikko Koskinen and he made a big play to help get Edmonton on the board. Let’s just say this, Calgary would love to keep this a hard-hitting series against the Oilers skill players. When the Flames are firing on all cylinders this team has it all, scoring, toughness and goaltending. Matthew Tkachuk was the big scorer last night with a hatty. And we HAVE to see a Milan Lucic tussle with Zack Kassian or Evander Kane next game right? The battle of Alberta is just plain fun to watch. Grab the popcorn and a beverage and enjoy this craziness! Feels like this one could go the distance as well, but something tells me the difference will be in net even after a shaky game 1 and Calgary emerges with a series win in 6.
On tap for tonight…2 Game 2’s!
Avalanche – Blues: If you’re an Avs fan (which I unabashedly am) game 1 felt like St. Louis had all the so-called puck luck. To come out with a victory after hitting 5 posts and getting an unsuspecting OT winner from Josh Manson felt like a HUGE sigh of relief. When the Avs put up over 2x the shots St. Louis did (54 to 25) it also felt deserved. How the Blues beat Minnesota is still shocking and it shows in Round 2 against a high powered opponent that keeps coming in waves. Mikko Rantanen is due for goals…they will come! Ryan O’Reilly was the biggest bright spot for St. Louis, but it will take a herculean effort for the Blues to win more than a pair of games here. Colorado won’t hit 5 posts again and they cruise to a victory tonight and a 5 game series win.
Lightning – Panthers: Andrei Vasilevskiy has now put together back-to-back stellar games with a .968 SP% in the series clinching win versus Toronto and a .970 SP% in game 1 versus a high scoring Panthers team. Jonathan Huberdeau HAS to step up with only 4 points so far in the playoffs after 115 during the regular season. Cats can’t be kept down for too long and pucks will find the net. The real question is can Florida get rid of this inter-state curse that seems to affect them when playing Tampa. Logic seems to point to Florida, but I just can’t count Tampa out. They will absolutely miss Brayden Point, but they are still getting goals from depth players like Nicholas Paul, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ross Colton. That depth pushes the Lightning through in 7 games to advance to their third straight conference finals.
Written by Chris Dittmer