On Tap For Today — Boston at NY Islanders; 7:30 pm EDT; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN
Tuesday’s Toe Drags
MASTER-FUL NOMINEES: Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Philadelphia’s Oskar Lindblom, and San Jose’s Patrick Marleau were all named finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who best “exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.” Congrats to all!
R-ASK AGAIN TOMORROW: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, currently battling an undisclosed injury, is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s potential elimination game against the Islanders. Boston will also be without Curtis Lazar — who left Game 5 with a leg injury — as well as Kevan Miller and Brandon Carlo, who have not played since Game 4 against Washington.
POINT MADE: Lightning forward Brayden Point’s second period goal was all the team needed in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over the Hurricanes, making it the third series-clinching goal in Point’s career. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 29 shots he faced, becoming the first-ever NHL goalie to record a shutout in three consecutive series-clinching wins. Tampa will face either the Bruins or Islanders in the semifinals.
STONE COLD FINISH: Vegas captain Mark Stone capped off a three-goal comeback in overtime, as the Golden Knights erased both a 2-0 game and series lead against the Avalanche.
Are the Canadiens Still Underdogs
If there is one team you can’t ignore this postseason, it’s the Montreal Canadiens. They were the last team to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and most pundits wrote them off when they matched up against the heavily favored Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 1. Fast-forward 19 days, and the Canadiens are the first team to punch their ticket to the semifinal round.
Montreal took the opening game of Round 1 by a score of 2-1, thanks to Paul Byron’s impressive short-handed game-winner in the third period. Games 2, 3, and 4 all ended in Toronto victories — as Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell allowed only two goals in those three games. Down 3-1 in the series, Montreal had to win back-to-back games in order to force a Game 7, which led to their rival’s demise.
Montreal faced a well-rested Winnipeg team in Round 2. The Jets swept the Oilers in Round 1, and had eight days off before facing the Canadiens. While Winnipeg easily took control over Edmonton and shut down the Oilers’ star players, they were unable to do so against Montreal. Leading scorers Tyler Toffoli and Nick Suzuki continued to set the tone for the Canadiens, while a vintage Carey Price backstopped his team to their own sweep of the Jets. Montreal is currently on a 7-game winning streak, but will be the lower seed when they face the winner of the Colorado/Vegas series in the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
The last time Lord Stanley made an appearance in Montreal was in 1993 — and ironically they swept their opponent in Round 2 of that postseason as well. Much like that 1992-93 team, this roster has undeniable depth and solid goaltending from a future Hall of Famer. Whether you’re a fan of the Canadiens or not, it’s hard to deny that there is something special brewing for the last team standing in the North.
What Went Wrong
We’re back! Narrowing down the remaining NHL postseason playing field to four division champions means that another four clubs must fall by the wayside. In conjunction with our “In Memoriam” segment, we are using this space to offer some final words to these vanquished hopefuls.
In a wide open Scotia North Division, a playoff series victory and runner-up finish isn’t a bad outcome for the Jets. Still, that won’t take the sting out of coming up on the wrong end of a stunningly lopsided, blink-and-you-missed-it 4-0 series sweep.
Last Monday, you could almost hear the Jets licking their lips at the prospect of playing the 59-point Habs. Barely a week later, and a shellshocked Winnipeg is packing its bags after getting flattened by a Montreal steamroller. I mean, they didn’t even get to enjoy so much as a lead!
While much of the media attention has focused on the surging Canadiens, winners of seven straight, the Jets had a hand in their own demise. Mark Scheifele’s vicious charge on Jake Evans in the waning seconds of Game 1 not only built enmity toward Winnipeg, but also cost the club the services of their top scorer and prominent on-ice leader (his four-game suspension will also force him to miss the first game of next season).
The absence of Scheifele’s leadership was particularly noticeable in Monday’s Game 4 series closer. With the Jets on the brink of elimination, it was Montreal that looked desperate — outshooting Winnipeg 42-16 and generally controlling play.
Winnipeg’s other top forwards weren’t any more visible than the suspended Scheifele. Pierre-Luc Dubois, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, and captain Blake Wheeler combined for exactly one goal — or one fewer in the series than Logan Stanley, who notched a single regular season marker. That lack of top end production was instrumental in a dulled offense that managed to get just six pucks behind Carey Price after scoring 14 in their first round sweep of the Oilers.
Much of the Jets’ core remains intact heading into next season, so there’s little concern about a house cleaning. That said — a huge missed opportunity, coupled with how flat they came out against Montreal, will linger for a while in the ‘Peg.
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: 1/14/21 – 6/8/21
Cause of Death: Tropical depression, caused by a high-pressure system
Last Words: Cmon, Lightning can’t strike twice.