June 23 — Lamoriello, Blowouts & Player Superstitions

On Tap For Today — Tampa Bay at NY Islanders 8 pm EDT; NBCSN, TVAS, SN, CBC

Tuesday’s Toe Drags

LASTING CONNECTIONS: The entire league and its fans are mourning the death of René Robert, a member of Buffalo’s famed “French Connection” line, after he passed away yesterday following a heart attack suffered last week. Robert recorded 702 points in 744 career games for the Sabres, Maple Leafs, (Colorado) Rockies, and Penguins. Rest in peace.

SWEET LOU: The Islanders’ Lou Lamoriello was awarded the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year award on Tuesday. He edged out Montreal’s Marc Bergevin and Florida’s Bill Zito to earn the honor for the second straight year.

DOUBLE TAKE: Both Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who retired from the Canucks following the 2017-18 season, have agreed to rejoin the team as special advisors to the GM. They will participate in player evaluation and development, and will assist in draft, trades, and free agency activities. Do you think they will share an office?

JES-PERI IT IN THE NET: Montreal’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored his ninth career postseason goal in the Canadiens’ 4-1 Game 5 win over the Golden Knights, the eighth-most playoff goals ever scored by a player under 21. He’s got some work to do to catch Jaromir Jagr’s 14 tallies — Kotkaniemi turns 21 on July 6!

WELL PRICED: Carey Price made key stop after key stop, helping Montreal move to within one game of its first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1993. Buckle up, Game 6 is Thursday!

Whacky Wednesday — NHL Superstitions

Athletes in general are superstitious, but it seems to be more amplified when it comes to hockey players. Each player has their own superstitions and routines. From the bizarre — like not getting a hair cut while on the road — to the more common, such as putting equipment on in the same order or listening to the same playlist before every game. Below are three superstitions that — while may seem successful — might just take things a little over the top.

An Alarming Routine

Glenn Hall was a goaltender in the NHL from 1952-1971. Throughout his career he accumulated three Vezina Trophies, two Stanley Cups, and one Conn Smythe Trophy — so it comes as no surprise that his nickname is “Mr. Goalie.” What is surprising is what he forced himself to do before every game. For almost 20 seasons, Hall would induce vomit prior to hitting the ice because he believed that it would improve his game day performance. Clearly something worked since he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975 — although it is doubtful it was because of his odd pregame routine.

No Touching

The Prince of Wales Trophy and Clarence S. Campbell Bowl are the loneliest trophies in all of sports. The winning team of the Eastern Conference is presented with the Price of Wales Trophy, while the Western Conference winner is presented with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, and these trophies bring about the most discussed superstition in the NHL. Most players will not touch either of these trophies for fear that if they do, it will reduce their team’s chances to win the Stanley Cup. History has proven there is little evidence to back up this superstition, but nonetheless, players still avoid these trophies season after season.

Great Superstitions

Wayne Gretzky is a man of many NHL records and many superstitions. He would put his equipment on from bottom to top — starting with the left side first — and applied baby powder to his stick prior to every game. During warm-ups he would purposefully miss the net on his first shot attempt, and after warm-ups he would drink a Diet Coke, water, Gatorade, and another Diet Coke prior to the start of the game. He was a man of ritual and — while a dentist may cringe —it’s hard to argue with that much success.

After the Blowout

You can almost hear New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz urging his club to put Monday’s 8-0 thumping in Game 5 at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning behind them. It was, after all, just one game — with the series set to return to Long Island tonight for Game 6.

But if history is any indication, embarrassing blowouts can linger — especially at a time of year when you have to get ready to play the same team 48 hours later. Lopsided games have typically tended to shift momentum, leaving the victor feeling as though the opposing net is massive, while the losing team struggles to move past the memory of all the red goal lights endured.

What made the Game 5 blowout relatively unique was just how one-sided it really was. While it might seem nit-picky to quibble with exact goal differential, it’s nonetheless notable that eight-goal scoring disparities are surprisingly rare come playoff time — even as seven-goal differences are considerably more common.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the bigger blowouts in NHL postseason history and where the series — and the fates of the two teams involved — went in the aftermath.

Pittsburgh tops Philadelphia 7-0 (2018 First Round, Game 1)

Of all the intense battles waged in the storied in-state rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, their 2018 first round playoff meeting may have been the strangest. The Pens set an emphatic tone with a 7-0 series-opening romp. Philly deserves credit for a resilient 5-1 Game 2 response, but they then got outscored 10-1 at home over Games 3 and 4. All told, Pittsburgh won 4-2 and there was only one game decided by fewer than three goals.

Pittsburgh finishes off Minnesota 8-0 (1991 Cup Final, Game 6)

You have to go back a ways further to find a scoring differential of eight or more, but the Stanley Cup Final featured such a game 30 years ago. Here, Mario Lemieux’s Penguins closed out a Cup-clinching Game 6 with an emphatic 8-0 shutout of the Minnesota North Stars. Obviously, Minnesota didn’t have the chance to respond, but the lopsided affair points to a North Stars team struggling to contain a loaded Pens group that had won the previous two games.

Boston crushes Toronto 10-0 (1969 First Round, Game 1)

Phil Esposito scored four goals to help his Boston Bruins absolutely roll over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs’ response? Losing Game 2 by a 7-0 score en route to an easy Bruins’ sweep. At least back in those days, Toronto fans didn’t need to worry about protecting 4-1 leads against Boston!

Edmonton dominates Chicago 11-2 (1985 Conference Finals, Game 1)

Of all the losing teams on here that might deserve to be cut some slack, let’s acknowledge that the Blackhawks were contending with Wayne Gretzky’s 1980’s era Oilers. Incredibly, they actually rallied back from a 2-0 hole in the series to push it to six games against the eventual champs. That said, Chicago’s four losses to Edmonton came by a combined 24 goals.

Pittsburgh beats Washington 7-0 (2000 First Round, Game 1)

Yes, the Penguins again. Long before Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin sparked a superstar-oriented rivalry between Pittsburgh and Washington, a favored Caps team was decimated 7-0 on home ice by the Penguins to kick off its first round series. Washington was able to tighten things up considerably, but Pittsburgh ultimately won in five games — every other game was decided by a single goal— helping build their future rival’s reputation as a postseason disappointment (until 2018).