Your humble author got his wires crossed a little bit and, long story short, there wasn’t a Dose on Monday. To make up for that BOULDER-SIZED HOLE IN YOUR LIVES, I’ve decided to make this a Double Dose of sorts. Two scoops of fantasy hockey fun for your Tuesday morning, so make like me eating a bowl of cereal and put an excessive amount of milk in this one.
CALGARY 4, VANCOUVER 2
-- Every time I see Ronalds Kenins name, I assume someone's cat walked across a keyboard and they were only able to take care of most of the typos. Seriously, that name is pretty off-putting.
-- Sam Bennett has two points in three playoff games and four in five NHL contests between the regular and postseasons. Calgary's been patient with the fourth pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, but I wonder if there will be no stopping him from making the big roster all season in 2015-16.
-- Johnny Gaudreau has an assist in two straight postseason contests after being held pointless in Game 1. Seems like that line is doing a bang-up job carrying over their momentum into the playoffs.
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MONTREAL 2, OTTAWA 1 (OT)
-- Craig Anderson did a heck of a job justifying the gutsy decision to sit Andrew Hammond. He stopped 47 out of 49 shots, which wasn't good enough for a win but *should* be more than good enough for a do-or-die Game 4.
-- Strangely effective year for Dale Weise, who scored both of Montreal's goals, including that OT-winner that barely stayed "in bounds."
-- I know the Habs are up 3-0, but this series has done little to dissuade me from doubting their true elite status. They're winning by the skin of their teeth. That said, if other series go long and they get a big break to rest any weary bones, that could be a pretty significant edge.
-- Clarke MacArthur was a touch disappointing in the regular season, but his playoff work has been great: two goals and 16 PIM in three games played
CHICAGO 4, NASHVILLE 2
-- Early on, it looks like Seth Jones is getting a huge bump with Shea Weber out for a while (if not for a LONG while). Jones logged 26:11 TOI, much of which was at even strength. His -3 rating may indicate that he'll either be asked to dial down the aggression or may even be de-emphasized, fair or not.
It was a rough game for Roman Josi, as well, as he also had a -3.
-- I don't know if it's coincidence, playing his former team or fighting for his NHL survival, but Viktor Stalberg's looking like the factor that people were hoping to see when he left the Blackhawks for the Predators. He didn't score this time around, yet with seven SOG and five hits, he definitely made an impression.
-- Brandon Saad scored a big goal and bares a solid resemblance to pro wrestler Seth Rollins.
-- Scott Darling stopped 35 out of 37 shots after sitting out Game 2 despite a 42-for-42 relief appearance in Game 1. At least Coach Q is smart enough to go back to him in Game 4.
ISLANDERS 2, CAPITALS 1 (OT)
-- I think I might have underestimated how much of a difference the "last run at the old barn" factor might make for the Islanders. That has to make a pretty large difference, right? Maybe?
-- After a fantastic 78-point season, Nicklas Backstrom continues to assert himself, scoring two goals (including Washington's only tally on Sunday) and two assists in the past two games after being held without a point in Game 1. If he can consistently threaten, then maybe splitting him from Alex Ovechkin can really work.
-- Braden Holtby is now 0-2-0 in the postseason, yet this had to be a confidence-builder as he stopped 40 out of 42 shots. Kind of a perplexing start to this series, really.
-- Jaroslav Halak stopped 24 out of 25 shots in both of his wins in this series. Odd stat.
DUCKS 5, JETS 4 (OT)
-- Not sure what was better in this one: the game itself or the crowd. Normally it would be the crowd, but the level of action and anger and drama and everything else you hope to see in a sporting event was on display in great form in this one. I feel bad for Winnipeg for being down 3-0, honestly a little more than Ottawa, as I think the Jets are more of a legitimate playoff team.
Also, Jets fans have suffered quite a bit more in the last many years.
(Not to say Sens devotees necessarily have it easy, mind you.)
-- Even during this game, I found myself transfixed enough by Dustin Byfuglien's unique style to almost forgive him ... but man, can we get this guy to cut the garbage out?
I'm sure he's had his fair share of bad hits, but he's been pushing it the past month or so. Hitting a guy quite a few beats after he scored a goal, and in the back, is absolutely suspension material. I'd say it will absolutely BE a suspension, too, but this is the NHL we're talking about.
-- Matt Beleskey wasn't the most frequent hitter in this physical contest (Andrew Ladd was credited with 12. Twelve!), but his heck blew my mind the most. His as-far-as-I-can-tell clean hit on Adam Pardy helped to set the stage for Jakob Silfverberg's second goal of the postseason (Silfverberg had three points overall in Game 3, by the way).
-- I didn't come into the playoffs doubting the Ducks at the same level that I questioned Montreal, but I still couldn't help but wonder about the Quackers. If they can manage a sweep or five-game series win, this could be a very valuable break.
Also, facing a relatively weak opponent assuming they move on (Calgary and Vancouver might be the two least imposing teams in the West) while the Central cannibalizes itself is very positive for Anaheim. This may be Bruce Boudreau's best chance at a championship.
RANGERS 2, PENGUINS 1
-- Man, this was an extremely dull game. The Vigneault-Rangers seem like they are just as likely to enrapture as they are to bore, yet I think that the yawn-inducing tendencies of this one came down to a combination of the Rangers' defensive aptitude and the Penguins' defense being unable to advance the puck with much success.
-- The best example of that puck-pushing gap came on a bad line change for the Penguins, as Keith Yandle sent a beauty up the ice to Carl Hagelin for the 1-0 tally. I'd wager that maybe one active Penguins blueliner (Paul Martin) could make that pass, and even then I'd be more comfortable betting on Yandle and Ryan McDonagh to pull it off. It's kind of crazy to think of the solid-to-great defensemen the Penguins are without, even beyond the most obvious omission in Kris Letang.
-- You can't ask for much more from Patric Hornqvist: one goal, +1, six SOG and seven hits.
-- If the Rangers hold on to win this series, let's cross our fingers that the Islanders advance against the Capitals. The world just doesn't need another Caps - Rangers series. That's not the Edmonton Oilers getting the first overall pick again. Just excessive.
WILD 3, BLUES 0
-- The Penguins took at least two periods (if not two and a half) to provide any real pressure on the Rangers, but it felt like the Blues never really got that memo. They only managed 17 SOG overall, including just 10 through the first 40 minutes.
-- This game seemed to have a little more life to it than much of Rangers-Penguins (at least before Pittsburgh's frantic finish to try to send its game to OT) in large part because the crowd in Minnesota was so great. I'm not so convinced by those who claim that the Wild are THAT exciting of a team now; I'd agree that they're certainly less agonizing than the Lemaire days, but that's like saying that it's more exciting to watch grass when it's mowed than it is to watch it grow. Yes, it's a step up, but is it still your first idea for entertainment?
Anyway, the fans really elevated that game, even with a piddling 41 combined SOG. More and more it seems that this series will either go long or wrong for the Blues.
-- Jason Pominville's tap-in game-winner wasn't an empty-netter ... technically.
-- Yes, it was very easy at 17 saves, but it's fitting that Devan Dubnyk grabbed 2015's first shutout. I'm really curious how we'll look back at this breakthrough season, say, five years from now. Will we view this as the beginning of a good (maybe great) goalie's blossoming or a charming run by a so-so netminder?
(Sadly, I think the latter outlook will stick for Andrew Hammond.)