Maybe the 2016 postseason is a playoffs of phases rather than themes.
When things began, it was about some pretty weird goal reviews. That went away, and then we saw typical contenders largely go down in flames, with no more Kings or Blackhawks in early May being especially disorienting.
Now it seems like suspension debates and strangely lopsided games are becoming something of a “phase.”
Or maybe it just feels that way.
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LIGHTNING 5, ISLANDERS 4 (OT, Tampa Bay is up 2-1 in series)
-- Big hits carry some of the headlines in this one, and the most noteworthy checks both involved Thomas Hickey.
First, Hickey delivered a (generally regarded as clean) hit on Jonathan Drouin that left the rising young star reeling during the second period. It sure looked like he was concussed from that dazed look in his eyes.
However he felt, Drouin managed to return midway through the third period. He didn't stop at merely playing; Drouin made a great pass to set up Nikita Kucherov for the 4-4 goal in the waning moments of regulation.
Should he really have been out there? That's debatable, but he clearly made an impact when he did.
-- The other check was pivotal and controversial.
During the overtime period, Brian Boyle may have delivered a late and/or dirty hit on Hickey.
Moments later, Boyle scored the overtime game-winning goal.
The Islanders saw a possible win go to an overtime loss. Must have been awfully frustrating, especially since the Isles gave up three different leads.
-- One big lineup change that really paid off for the Islanders was Josh Bailey's return. He scored two goals and nearly had a hat trick but Ben Bishop's outstanding goal save thwarted that ... and ended up being a pretty big deal in retrospect.
-- Strange set of stats for Kyle Okposo in this one. Zero points and a -2 rating with five SOG and a whopping 10 hits. Somehow Okposo had 10 hits and zero points while Cal Clutterbuck scored a goal and an assist but only one hit.
-- When you think of IDEAL STATE Lightning and Islanders, you'd picture two teams with the talent to really light up the scoreboards and that's coming to pass. I wouldn't be surprised if the entire series is tough on both Bishop and Thomas Greiss numbers-wise.
BLUES 6, STARS 1 (St. Louis goes up 2-1 in series)
-- Wow, what a beatdown.
For the second straight game, the Stars changed goalies. Antti Niemi began the game but barely made it beyond the first period after giving up three goals on 12 shots. Kari Lehtonen gave up a goal almost immediately after Niemi was pulled and yielded three goals on 27 shots.
It's no secret that the Stars struggle in their own end - they're great at transitioning if they can get out, but actual coverage is tough - but their goaltending has been outright horrific.
And all for the low-low price of $10.4 million in cap money, and not just for 2015-16. Yikes.
-- The Stars lost so badly that you have to say things like "It's only one game" and "they're still only down 2-1" to make Stars fans feel better.
-- Troy Brouwer is on quite the hot streak, with a goal and an assist.
This is the second consecutive one-goal, one-assist game for Brouwer. He also has six points in his past five games, with one of his three tallies being a Game 7 GWG/series-WG.
PREDATORS 4, SHARKS 1 (San Jose's lead is down to 2-1)
Instead, the Predators rattled off four unanswered goals and now they can tie things up 2-2 if they win Game 4.
San Jose went for 0-for-4, so a big special teams advantage for Sharks.
-- Shea Weber scored the GWG and good gravy was that ever a ridiculous shot. Sometimes you just need a guy who can make one of those elite-level shots in your lineup.
Weber also had an assist. The Predators enjoyed a great night in general from their group of scoring defensemen.