Last Night’s News 📰
TOM BRADY CHALLENGES LeBRON JAMES!?: In ice hockey! Yes, you read that right. Tom Brady challenged LeBron James to a five-round shootout on the ice. It started when James posted a Q&A segment on Twitter last night, in which Brady responded by asking, “you and me, five rounds, ice hockey shootout, who wins?” James did reply that he thinks he would win, although we aren’t sure he completely understood the challenge.
VACANCY IN VEGAS: Pete DeBoer paid the price for the disappointing Vegas Golden Knights missing the postseason for the first time in franchise history, with the club parting ways on Monday. Vegas went 98-50-12 over the three seasons DeBoer served as head coach.
LAMBERT LEADS LONG ISLAND: One week after the dismissal of New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, the team promoted Lane Lambert from the associate role on Monday. Lambert spent the last 11 seasons working under Trotz, who encouraged his protégé to accept the job the last time the two spoke.
BRUINS OR BUST: That’s the decision Patrice Bergeron will be making over the summer. After spending his whole career in Boston, Bergeron will decide between re-signing with the Bruins as a free agent or retiring as Boston’s third all-time leader in games played (1,216) and fourth all-time in goals (400), assists (582), and points (982).
MASTERTON MONDAY: Yesterday, the NHL announced the finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the player that best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. Voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, the nominees—Zdeno Chara (NYI), Kevin Hayes (PHI), and Carey Price (MTL)—are all first-time finalists.
Fast Facts: Jake Oettinger
In 1982, a song called “Who’s That Guy?” made its debut on the Grease 2 soundtrack. Sure, they were talking about a motorcycle-riding high school senior back then, but we can easily apply it to the goaltender who shocked hockey Twitter on Sunday night by making 64 saves in an all-important Game 7. Today, we highlight Jake Oettinger, the Dallas Stars goaltender who became a household name last weekend.
Only 23 Years Old
Oettinger, only 23 years old, has now concluded his second season in the NHL, appearing in 29 regular-season games last year and 48 this season. The Dallas Stars selected the Minnesota native with the 26th pick in the 2017 Entry Draft.
Played for Boston University
During his freshman season at Boston University, he recorded a 2.11 goals-against average (GAA) with a .927 save percentage (SV%). The following year, Oettinger earned the William Flynn Tournament Most Valuable Player award after Boston earned its ninth Hockey East Tournament title. Other NHL players to win that award include Connor Hellebuyck, Jack Eichel, and Johnny Gaudreau.
Best Save Percentage in Round 1
Now that the first round has ended, fans can examine the best players from the first two weeks of the postseason. The Dallas Stars goaltender posted a .954 SV% against the Calgary Flames. It’s worth noting that the Dallas Stars’ opponent took the second-most shots by any team in the 2022 Playoffs, taking 287 through seven games while only scoring 15 goals, third-lowest among all clubs in Round 1. It’s no wonder some on Twitter are jokingly calling for the goaltender to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Drafted 26th Overall
He was the first goaltender to be selected in the 2017 Draft. Teams that could desperately use a goaltender like the Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes are probably kicking themselves for passing up on a potential franchise goalie. The Stars traded up to get the 6-foot-4 Minnesotan during the draft, giving the Chicago Blackhawks their 29th and 70th picks, which the Hawks used to select Henri Jokiharju and Andrei Altybarmakyan, respectively. Yep, it’s safe to say multiple teams are kicking themselves for passing on Oettinger.
First Round Superlatives
Monday gave hockey fans a bit of a sabbatical following a crazy and action-packed first round of the playoffs. Round 2 kicks off today, but before turning the page to that, let’s look back at the best of the past two weeks.
Best Team: Colorado Avalanche
Arguments could be made for other teams being the “best,” but there is no question that the Avalanche were the most dominant team. While every other series went at least six games (and five going seven), Colorado took care of the Predators in a clean, four-game sweep.
The Avalanche started the series off with a bang, scoring five goals in the first period of Game 1, and never looked back. They outscored Nashville 21-9 in the sweep, while the only game decided by fewer than two goals was Game 2, which Colorado won 2-1 in overtime. The final scores of the other three contests were 7-2, 7-3, and 5-3.
Best Player: Connor McDavid
A few players from the best team could go here, like Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, or Darcy Kuemper, who helped lead the Avalanche to a dominant sweep. One could make a case for Adam Fox of the New York Rangers, who became the fourth defenseman in NHL history to score a point in all seven games. However, there’s a reason McDavid is favored to win the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL for the second straight year.
McDavid led all skaters with 14 points in the first round (four goals and 10 assists). But more importantly, the Edmonton Oilers forward came through in the clutch, registering a goal and two assists in the team’s 4-2 Game 6 win over the Los Angeles Kings and tallying a goal and an assist in the Oilers’ 2-0 Game 7 victory.
Best Series: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
While this is a hotly contested category since most of the series went the distance, I’ll go with the Maple Leafs-Lightning series. Although none of the first four games were particularly close, the final three games were all decided by one goal, which were the most single-goal games of any series to open the postseason.
The two teams alternated wins through the first six games (Toronto won Game 1, Tampa Bay won Game 2, and so on). After winning Game 6 in overtime, the Lighting eked out a 2-1 Game 7 victory in Toronto, giving the Maple Leafs another heartbreaking Game 7 loss.
Best Game: Game 7 – Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers
With several games going into overtime, two that featured three-goal comebacks, multiple incredible individual efforts, and five Game 7s, this was the most difficult to decide. I’m going to go with the final game of the Penguins-Rangers series. Game 1 of this series, which went three overtimes, was also a candidate, but Game 7 was the more impactful contest.
In front of an electric New York crowd, Pittsburgh and New York traded goals through the first two periods, with the Penguins entering the third with a 3-2 lead. Mika Zibanejad scored the game-tying goal for the Rangers with just over five minutes remaining in regulation. Then, 4:46 into overtime, star Artemi Panarin put home a power-play tally to extend the Rangers’ magical 2022 campaign.
The second round of the NHL postseason will feature the Battle of Alberta, the Battle of Florida, Colorado/St. Louis, and a Carolina/New York series that should be highly competitive, but the makeup of the remaining eight teams—and those who have fallen by the wayside—could have looked a lot different. Seven series went at least six games, five required a Game 7, four were decided by one goal, and two went to overtime.
As we look back at the rest of the teams defeated in the first round, it should stand as a source of comfort—or a bit of salt in the wound—that these clubs were close to advancing. So, chin up! Who knows, maybe next year really is your year.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Dates Active: 10/12/21 – 5/14/22
Cause of Death: Are the hockey gods finding new ways to curse the organization come playoff time?
Last Words: Game 7 of the first round – what would possibly go wrong?
Dates Active: 10/12/21 – 5/15/22
Cause of Death: Too much Louis Domingue, not enough closing.
Last Words: If this is the end of an era, what a ride it’s been.
Dates Active: 10/12/21 – 5/15/22
Cause of Death: That Johnny Hockey guy.
Last Words: We’re still glad we didn’t have to play the Avalanche!
Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket
Stanley Cup Playoffs Leading Scorers
Today’s NHL Schedule
- Today’s newsletter was edited by Kyle Knopp, with contributions by Ben Fisher, Kristy Flannery, and Brooke LoFurno.
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