TROPHY TIME: The NHL will begin announcing award finalists next Tuesday, with actual winners set to be revealed during both the Stanley Cup Semifinals and Stanley Cup Final.
GOTTA START SOMEWHERE: Team Canada finally recorded its first win in this year’s IIHF World Championship, a 4-2 triumph over Norway on Wednesday. The top four teams in each group advance, and the Canadians, who have never missed the World Championship playoffs, are currently sixth in Group B.
CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT: Great Britain moved into fifth place in Group A with its 4-3 IIHF World Championship win over Belarus on Wednesday. It was the first regulation win for the British at this level of play since the 1962 Ice Hockey World Championships, though they did notch an overtime win over France a few years ago.
FULL NELSON: Brock Nelson notched three points — which included two of three second period goals scored in a span of 2:59 — to help the Islanders beat the Penguins 5-3 and advance to the second round to face the Bruins. New York and Boston have only faced each other twice in the playoffs, and the Islanders won both times (1980, 1983)
VASILEVS-KIY TO VICTORY: Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded his second playoff shutout, stopping all 29 shots he faced in Tampa’s 4-0 Game 6 series-clinching win over Florida. His other postseason shutout also clinched a series — Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.
CAM’S JAM: Minnesota goalie Cam Talbot was in his element Wednesday, blanking the Golden Knights in Game 6 while becoming the second goalie in Wild history to record a shutout in an elimination game. On to Game 7!
Top Shelf Thursday – Top-5 Reverse Retro Jerseys
This season the NHL and Adidas partnered up to debut 31 unique Reverse Retro jerseys. These jerseys are a celebration of the organizations past and future. Some completely missed the mark and others became instant favorites among fans and players alike. Below are my (Kristy’s, take it up with her) top-5 Reverse Retro jerseys in the league.
#5 LA Kings
I love that the LA Kings went back to their original colors, especially since it happens to mirror the LA Lakers, whom they share the Staples Center with. Purple is the color traditionally associated with royalty. This idea goes back to when Roman Emperors prohibited their people from wearing purple clothes. The penalty if they did so — death. In ancient times when purple dye was rare and expensive, it was generally only used by nobility. Los Angeles wearing the color of royalty? A match fit for a King.
#4 Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild don’t get enough credit for their logo. Looking at it, you see both a forest landscape and the silhouette of an animal. There is also a nod to the Minnesota North Stars as the eye of the animal is — you guessed it — Polaris, the North Star. Finally, the color scheme is a throwback to the Minnesota teams prior to their departure south to Texas — another thing Dallas missed out on this season.
#3 Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche debuted their Reverse Retro jersey on February 20, 2021, when they played the outdoor game at Lake Tahoe. Their jersey is a nod to the Quebec Nordiques and is as close to perfection as you can get. While I’m not a fan of the standard Colorado jersey, this one is a head turner. This is one of only a few jerseys that are white, as the color symbolizes the snow found in north Quebec and at the top of the Rocky Mountains.
#2 Arizona Coyotes
The award for most original hockey jersey goes to the Arizona Coyotes. A purple background with green cacti and orange mountains make this the most colorful — and creative — sweater in the league. While the Coyotes are mostly overlooked as a team in the NHL, it’s near impossible to ignore their Reverse Retro jersey.
#1 Carolina Hurricanes
You have to give credit to the Carolina Hurricanes’ organization; they gave the people what they wanted. Bringing back the Hartford Whalers jersey was another brilliant marketing move. The team’s VP of Marketing and Brand Strategy said the team wanted to maintain the brand integrity by sticking closely to the 1979 version of the Whalers’ white jersey. They accomplished all that and more, making this a favorite among the fans.
What Went Wrong
In the words of Ferris Bueller — “Life comes at you pretty fast.” It feels like the NHL playoffs just started and already teams are falling by the wayside. The postseason is a time of year when much of the focus is placed on looking ahead and celebrating those teams that remain in Cup contention. However, in the spirit of our new “In Memoriam” segment, we are going to offer some final words on these first round casualties.
Connor McDavid’s offensive fireworks during the regular season were fun while they lasted. Given the Edmonton Oilers’ smooth cruise to the No. 2 seed in the Scotia North Division, and their 7-2 mastery of the Winnipeg Jets all season long, it’s safe to say that bowing out in four games was a stunning result — the latest in a long string of disappointing performances during the McDavid era.
While McDavid only turned 24 this past January, it has to be somewhat alarming that the Oilers have accrued more top-10 draft selections — three — than playoff series wins — one — during the six-year career of their franchise star. While it’s not a perfect comparison, its worth noting that former Oilers great, Wayne Gretzky, won his second consecutive Stanley Cup during his sixth season in Edmonton.
Oilers fans would probably prefer not to reflect on the Jets’ first round sweep at this point, but looking ahead to the future brings about plenty of questions as well. GM Ken Holland has cap space at his disposal, but also has a couple holes to fill with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins set to be an unrestricted free agent and Kailer Yamamoto is in need of a new contract. Is it worth it for Holland to spend big to retain a roster that didn’t win a playoff game this season?
The other major question comes in net, as 39-year-old Mike Smith didn’t seem like a viable option beyond this year until he turned in a Vezina-caliber season and became a free agent priority. Offering significant money and term to a guy who will turn 40 next season may not be overly appealing, but neither is heading into next season with Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock vying for the starter’s role.
Of course, apart from handling the club’s own free agents, there will be considerable pressure on Holland to find additional outside help for McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. If you look past the jaw-dropping 189 combined points from Edmonton’s superstar duo, you’d see that the remaining 16 forwards to suit up for the team this season only managed 180 combined points.
Now, any team that employs the game’s best player can’t be that far from contention, nor should they have trouble recruiting free agents. This team could have a very different look come next season — and after the collapse against Winnipeg, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Please join us in a moment of silence for these recently eliminated teams – gone, but never forgotten. We can’t wait until we meet again (the 2021-22 season, of course!), but for now we’ll take this opportunity to reflect on a their brief — but memorable — playoff run.
Dates Active: 1/13/21 – 5/26/21
Cause of Death: Long Islands were too strong
Last Words: ::Texting Matt Murray:: U Up?
Dates Active: 1/17/21 – 5/26/21
Cause of Death: Lightning Strike
Last Words: Aw, Rats!