May 22, 2022

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Increase a glass to the primary spherical of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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It by no means disappoints. This solely confirms why the top of the season within the NHL is the very best in all sports activities. This yr was no totally different. Whether or not it is the variety of episodes which have gone the gap, the wonderful talent and factors scored, or the physicality that reminds you that you simply’re not watching the common season, the primary spherical is more likely to be the very best spherical.

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Here’s what has been accomplished to this point:

Seventh heaven

Is there something higher within the playoffs than sport 7? It does not matter who you root for, there’s one thing in regards to the winner-take-all knockout sport that evokes all of the emotion. This weekend we now have a deal with. Three Sport 7s are scheduled for Saturday, back-to-back, beginning with Boston vs. Carolina at 4:30 pm ET, then Tampa Bay vs. Toronto at 7:00 pm, then Edmonton vs. Los Angeles” at 22:30. Judging by the outcomes of the sport on Friday night time, we are able to anticipate three extra seventh video games on Sunday. Fingers crossed, it occurs.

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Colorado stays the favourite

Darryl Sutter was proper. Nicely, form of. When the Calgary Flames head coach was requested about how tough it might be to face the Colorado within the first spherical of the playoffs, he merely warned those that ultimately turned the West group: “It is going to be a waste of eight days.” It turned out that he was lacking for 2 days. It solely took Avalanche six days to brush away the Nashville Predators. On the similar time, Cale Makar (3 objectives and 10 factors) reminded everybody why he will be probably the most attention-grabbing taking pictures guard since Paul Coffey.

Toronto’s huge 4 emerge

It doesn’t matter what occurs in Sport 7 on Saturday, the Leafs aren’t going to blow their core. Ultimately, this time every of them confirmed himself in a giant means. Auston Matthews leads the group with 4 objectives and eight factors; Mitch Marner has two objectives and 7 factors; William Nylander has three objectives and 7 factors; John Tavares has three objectives and 6 factors. In complete, they scored 12 of the group’s 23 objectives, excess of previously. As we have mentioned numerous instances, if the Huge 4 are Toronto’s high 4, then they need to make it to the second spherical… proper?

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Gunery will not go away

It would not be a primary spherical with out the compulsory headshots, suspensions, and chilling violence often reserved for Quentin Tarantino movies. Toronto’s Kyle Clifford began the sport at 1 when he was disqualified for hitting Tampa Bay’s Ross Colton from behind. Since then, we have had a number of lane fights and lots of questionable hits. Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse was disqualified for headbutting LA’s Philip Dano within the face, and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby was out after New York’s Jacob Truba elbowed him within the face, who one way or the other escaped the additional self-discipline .

Refs, you’re shit!

Playoffs are by no means simple for referees just because playoff hockey is way more bodily than common season hockey. To the referees’ credit score, they appear to be calling the sport by the principles, resulting in a parade of gamers in direction of the penalty space. And but, they’re nonetheless unsuitable. Toronto followers complained Thursday night time after a phantom high-stick penalty precipitated Tampa Bay to equalize. However the Tampa Bay followers have been chanting, “Referee, you suck!” after Steven Stamkos was robbed in additional time and not using a penalty.

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Scoring

It has been an excellent yr for objectives scored within the NHL. Eight gamers have reached 100 factors and 4 have scored 50 or extra objectives. The very best half? Continuation to the playoffs. After groups have averaged 3.14 objectives per sport within the common season, it might be pure to suppose the offense would dry up in a harder playoff model. As a substitute, it was the opposite means round. Neglect about 2-1 video games. Now we have seen six video games by which the group has already scored seven objectives. In consequence, groups common a whopping 3.31 objectives per sport within the playoffs, the best scoring opening spherical since 1995 (3.40).

The celebrities are shining

The explanation efficiency is so excessive is that we could also be witnessing a brand new golden period of efficiency. I do not bear in mind one other time when a lot expertise was concentrated within the league. You will have a brand new quarterback that features Connor McDavid, who leads the playoffs with 12 factors, Cale Makar (10 factors) and Auston Matthews (eight factors). However you even have the previous guard who’re nonetheless enjoying and making an affect, like Brad Marchand (11 factors), Sidney Crosby (9 factors) and Victor Hedman (7 factors). Put all of it collectively and it is a good time for a hockey fan, however not as a lot enjoyable as it’s for an NHL goaltender.

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God assist the aim

It began with accidents. So, so many accidents. Issues acquired so unhealthy that at one level, three groups relied on their third stringer for the highest spot. 1 job. Additionally, exterior of Calgary and Dallas, there weren’t many stand-up acts. Vice versa. Vezina Trophy favourite Igor Shesterkin dropped out twice. Andrei Vasilevsky, final yr’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner, has a .885 taking pictures proportion. Marc-André Fleury, who was acquired by Minnesota on the commerce deadline, misplaced the beginning job on account of a compulsory win in Sport 6, which Wild misplaced.

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