May 25 — Worlds Quarterfinals & Defensive Dynamos

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

NIELSEN CALLS IT A CAREER: Frans Nielsen, the first ever player from Denmark to reach the NHL, has retired at 38 years old after 925 career games. An All-Star in 2017, Nielsen already expressed his intentions to call it quits after representing his home country at the IIHF World Championships and reiterated the announcement after the Danes’ official elimination.

MEN’S WORLDS WINDING DOWN: Speaking of Denmark’s exit from the Worlds, the tournament has completed pool play, and the quarterfinals begin on Thursday. Switzerland won Group A after going undefeated with six regulation and one overtime win, while Finland topped Group B with six regulation wins and an overtime defeat. Italy and Great Britain finished 15th and 16th, respectively, and face regulation in favor of Slovenia and Hungary in 2023. 

THE RETURN OF TORTS?: Two-time Jack Adams Award winner John Tortorella confirmed on Tuesday that he interviewed with the Philadelphia Flyers for their head coaching role, which has been vacant since the team fired Mike Yeo on May 3. The 63-year-old Tortorella, who parted ways with the Columbus Blue Jackets last year after six seasons, has been working as an analyst for ESPN this season.

RANGERS EVEN SERIES: Carolina’s struggles continue away from PNC Arena, as the Hurricanes lost their fifth game of the playoffs on the road. Andrew Copp led the way for the New York Rangers with a goal and two assists, while Igor Shesterkin made 30 saves in the 4-1 victory. Sebastian Aho assisted on Teuvo Teräväinen’s tally, setting the Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise records for playoff points (44) and playoff assists (26). 

OIL OUTBURNS FLAMES: Although the Calgary Flames raced back from a 3-0 deficit in the first period, the Edmonton Oilers did enough to keep them at bay to earn the 5-3 Game 4 victory. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Evander Kane paced the Oilers with two goals each as Edmonton looks to close out the series on Thursday in Calgary. 

Worlds Down to Eight

We are officially through the round-robin stage at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships, with the quarterfinals set for tomorrow. This year’s event has seen Switzerland shock the field with a tournament-best 20 points and a plus-19 goal differential, while the host Finns reigned atop Group B after allowing just five goals in seven games. Meanwhile, Canada fell to the Swiss and Denmark, while the United States mustered only 18 goals (Kazakhstan had 19).

Some early surprises have set up intriguing quarterfinal matchups. Let’s break down what’s gone down thus far and look ahead to what’s still to come at the Worlds:

The Quarters

All games will take place on Thursday, May 26. All times listed are in the Eastern Time Zone.

Germany (A2) vs Czechia (B3) – Helsinki 9:20 a.m. | Sweden (B2) vs Canada (A3) – Tampere 9:20 a.m. – RDS, TSN | Switzerland (A1) vs USA (B4) – Helsinki 1:20 p.m. – NHL Network | Finland (B1) vs Slovakia (A4) – Tampere 1:20 p.m.

Biggest Surprise

Denis Malgin, Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Given the offensive production of the high-scoring Swiss, you might have expected significant output from the likes of Nico Hischier and Timo Meier. While both have enjoyed solid tournaments, former NHLer and current ZSC Lions Denis Malgin led the team with five goals and 12 points in seven games.

Biggest Disappointments

Even with the understanding that this isn’t a best-on-best tournament, it’s still pretty jarring to see the North American hockey powers stumble through the round robin. Canada struggled through a very winnable Group A, losing twice, allowing three or more goals in four games, and facing early deficits against Italy and Kazakhstan. The Americans, for their part, were blanked by the Czechs and required a two-goal rally and overtime winner to top Austria.

Individual Standouts

Pierre-Luc Dubois is leading Team Canada in scoring (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

All kinds of different players are making their mark in Tampere and Helsinki. It’s been a big tournament for the former NHLers in Europe, with Malgin and Roman Červenka of the Czech Republic leading the scoring race. Pierre-Luc Dubois has led Canada in scoring, while Jeremy Swayman has starred in goal for Team USA among the current NHL players in this year’s event. In the prospect ranks, likely top-five pick Juraj Slafkovský continues to wow internationally for Slovakia, and Czech forward Matěj Blümel is making a case for an NHL contract.

Playoff Scoring Update: Defensemen

The 2022 NHL Postseason is reaching the halfway point, with one second round series (Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers) already wrapped up and two others (Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames) one game away from concluding. Now seems like a good time to look at the playoff-scoring leaders so far among defensemen.

Monday night featured plenty of points from defensemen. The Colorado Avalanche alone got five total points from the blue line in their 6-3 win over the St. Louis Blues. Tuesday saw New York Rangers star Adam Fox tally a goal and assist, taking the lead in playoff scoring among defensemen.

Adam Fox – New York Rangers (13 Points)

As was just mentioned, Fox took the outright lead in playoff points among defensemen in New York’s 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes last night. The 24-year-old assisted on Frank Vatrano’s opening goal and netted one of his own later in the first period to help the Rangers even the second round series at two games apiece.

Adam Fox, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Following a breakout third NHL season, in which he finished fourth in scoring among defensemen with 74 points (11 goals, 63 assists), Fox has a league-best 13 points (four goals, nine assists) through 11 playoff games.

Cale Makar – Colorado Avalanche (12 Points)

Before Fox took the lead in playoff scoring among defensemen last night, Makar had the lead on Monday night with an assist on the first of Nazem Kadri’s three goals in the Avalanche’s Game 4 victory over the Blues. While the 23-year-old has scored a point in his past two games, most of his scoring came in Round 1 against the Nashville Predators, where Makar had 10 points in four games (including three three-point games).

Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Makar, like Fox, is in his third NHL season and trailed only Nashville’s Roman Josi among defensemen in points in the regular season, finishing with 86 (28 goals, 58 assists). His 28 goals were the most among defensemen. So far this postseason, he has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in eight games and is tied with Fox for the lead for playoff assists by a blueliner.

Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay Lightning (10 Points)

The veteran Hedman was an integral part of Tampa Bay’s back-to-back Stanley Cup titles, and that’s no different this year as the Lightning look for a third straight championship. He didn’t register a point in the team’s 2-0 win on Monday night that finished off their sweep of the top-seeded Panthers, but he did tally an assist in each of the first three games of the series.

Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

At 31 years old, Hedman had his best season, finishing with 85 points (20 goals, 65 assists) in 82 games—all career highs. So far this postseason, he has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 11 games. He’ll have at least four more opportunities to add to that total.

He’s Fine(d)

The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety has been busy, handing out fines like Oprah gives away cars. Every time we log onto the NHL’s official website, a new fine levied is the top story. Even though we are only halfway through the second round, plenty of action happened off the ice. Let’s look at the numbers behind the infractions occurring this postseason.

4 – Number of fines doled out after the first day of the playoffs. Three were from Game 1 of the Toronto Maple Leafs/Tampa Bay Lightning series, as the usual suspects of Pat Maroon, Corey Perry, and Wayne Simmonds were all taxed for unsportsmanlike conduct. Minnesota Wild captain Jared Spurgeon was the fourth player to be fined for cross-checking Pavel Buchnevich of the St. Louis Blues. 

2 – Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn earned two fines in the first round against the Calgary Flames. The 32-year-old gave $10,000 to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. During Game 3, Benn garnered his first infraction for high-sticking Andrew Mangiapane, and in Game 4, he tripped Trevor Lewis.

15 – Total fines assessed since the Stanley Cup Playoffs began on May 2. Last year there were 11 fines handed out throughout the entirety of the postseason. Currently, we are at 15 and are only halfway through the second round. The latest player to write a check to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund is St. Louis Blues forward David Perron after receiving a $5,000 fine for cross-checking Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri.

$62,750 – Total amount of money that has been donated to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund so far this postseason. In comparison, the total for the playoffs last year was $73,879.31—keeping in mind Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was fined $25,000 for inappropriate comments against officials during a postgame press conference. The players totaled $48,879.31 through all four rounds—a total already surpassed as we approach the halfway mark of the 2022 Playoffs.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket

Stanley Cup Playoffs Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule