We are in that batty time of year in which a star defenseman can get a game misconduct for slashing (P.K. Subban, obviously I hope) while an opposing head coach (Dave Cameron) doesn’t even get fined for essentially demanding that the Ottawa Senators enact the Hockey Hammurabi’s Code on Subban/one of the Montreal Canadiens’ best players.
Ah, sometimes it’s best just to let that illogic wash over you and try not to make sense of … any of these decisions.
This first playoff Hockey Dose week is a shortened one for me, as I hand over to the weekend guys after this one. After that, you’re stuck with me from Monday - Friday as usual.
Some nights might be sharper than others on my end, so to make sure you stay abreast of injury updates - at least the rare ones teams allow to trickle out as they go into CIA/FBI lockdown mode - I’ll plop this blurb higher up in these columns every now and then.
DUCKS 4, JETS 2
-- One mini-theme of these Game 1's is big-ticket trade items finding themselves as healthy scratches. While Antoine Vermette was in street clothes on Wednesday, James Wisniewski received that treatment with Anaheim on Thursday night. Actually, Tomas Fleischmann didn't play for the Ducks, either ... so not the best start for The New Guys.
-- Another theme seems to be teams continuing their hot-finishing ways from the regular season, at least early on. Much like the Flames, the Ducks' late/close-game prowess inspired obligatory graphic displays of their closing successes in 2014-15. They didn't disappoint, either, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 win in the final frame.
-- If any team can consistently count on a couple of players to save them, it might just be the Ducks with Corey Perry (two goals, two assists) and Ryan Getzlaf (one goal, two assists). One or more of those two forwards factored into every Ducks goal.
-- Sami Vatanen stood out in his own right, collecting two assists and a goal. Wow.
-- Drew Stafford continues to stand out as a great addition for the Jets, bucking that aforementioned trend of faulty rentals. I'd re-sign him if I were Winnipeg (at least if he'd be willing to brave those winters after suffering in Buffalo).
-- I can't help but wonder if, even after all those late-season heroics, the leash might be short for Ondrej Pavelec.
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RANGERS 2, PENGUINS 1
-- Kind of an odd one to gauge. Yes, the Rangers dominated the shot side (38-25) and comfortably won the puck possession game even while holding a lead from the 28 second mark and on, but New York received five power-play opportunities (going 1-for-5) while the Penguins failed to cash in on theirs.
Pittsburgh wasn't the most disciplined team in the NHL, yet I'd be surprised if things aren't more even going forward. We should get a better idea about this series with a couple more games on the board.
-- Derick Brassard has nice career playoff numbers (25 points in 36 games after Game 1's goal), but the Rangers probably dream about him replicating 2012-13, when he had 12 points in as many postseason contests.
-- The Brassard goal wasn't ideal for Marc-Andre Fleury, yet he was impressive overall in this game, stopping 36 out of 38 shots in this defeat. The Penguins can't be happy about wasting such a strong performance.
-- Just three SOG combined and zero points for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in this one. It's one thing to get worried when they're not lighting up the scoreboard, but limited chances aren't a great sign. Just one game though, naturally.
RED WINGS 3, LIGHTNING 2
-- Detroit really stole this one. More specifically, Petr Mrazek was the thief, stopping 44 out of 46 shots while his team managed three goals on a measly 14 SOG.
(It probably didn't need to be said, then, but it was NOT a good night for Ben Bishop).
-- To be fair, Pavel Datsyuk did score two of those three goals against Bishop, so it's not like the Lightning goalie was facing a player with normal human skill.
-- Another game in which power plays certainly messed with the numbers, though, as Tampa Bay went 0-for-7 on the man advantage compared to Detroit's 1-for-3 rate. Remarkably, one of the Lightning's goals did come on special teams, as Brian Boyle scored a shorthanded tally.
-- Anton Stralman did a bit of everything, aside from scoring points; the defenseman went +1, had two PIM, five SOG, seven hits and one blocked shot in 18:56 TOI.
WILD 4, BLUES 2
-- Can't blame people for doing a double-take when they see that Jake Allen allowed the same amount of goals (two) as Devan Dubnyk did, despite Allen losing this one. The explanation is simple enough: the Wild scored two empty-net goals and the two teams combined for three goals in about a minute-long burst, with two ENGs and one shortie making everything weird.
Anyway, there it is. It's worth noting that Allen is getting the nod for Game 2 ... unless Ken Hitchcock changes his mind again.
-- The Wild really seemed to muddle the Blues' attack, as St. Louis only managed 11 SOG through two periods (versus 21 for Minnesota). Hitchcock can't be pleased with this lack of volume.
-- Kevin Shattenkirk grabbed an assist on the Blues' two goals in this one.
-- Quality stat grabbing by Zach Parise: both of his helpers came via empty-netters in this one.
-- It boggles my mind that Minnesota isn't a little more fun to watch considering the fact that management seems to land a splashy, talented forward once per season. And I mean summer, spring, winter and fall, not hockey seasons.