GAME ONE – IS DONE!
ONE IS DONE!
Well, we have the first game of the NHL play-offs behind us and unless you picked Sydney Crosby for your pool, you probably did not get off to a great start. Our goals / game average after Game 1 sits at only 5.3 goals. From each of the 16 play-off teams, there were only 15 players to get two or more points. The 1-0 victory for the Las Vegas Knights may have been a historic win for the franchise, but it was certainly not a milestone moment for us ‘poolies’.
This first round is the chance for your key selections to gain some points and lift your team to the top of the pool. Unfortunately, some key potential point getters resorted to illegal hits that may cost them some time away from the game. In a moment of anger, Drew Doughty of the LA Kings decided to target the head of an opponent which earned him a 1 game suspension. Nazim Kadri of the Maple Leafs took exception to a body check that one of his team mates received and decided to charge at a Boston player who was already on his way down. Kadri’s violent and unnecessary hit has landed him in front of the NHL discipline committee which, in turn, might lose him a few games. In the Winnipeg-Minnesota series, we did not see any potentially suspendable offences. Nevertheless, the hitting was so hard that a pane of the protective glass was completely dislodged and Winnipeg lost the services of their winger Mathieu Perreault. I’m certain that more than a few of you were counting on Perreault to earn some key first round points. Be forewarned that hard hitting physicality of this series will most likely result in even more injuries to come.
You probably predicted that the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh series would produce a lot of goals. Goal-tending has been a weak point for both of these teams. However, what you might not have counted on in Game 1 was the fact that all the goals were racked up by one team. Game 1 has only added to the never-ending scourge of goal-tending demons that have haunted Philadelphia in the past. It seems that no matter how strong the Flyers get, they always have issues in the net!?!
Columbus and Washington played the way that we like to see a first round go… extra time in the overtime and 5 different players recording at least 2 points. Who doesn’t love extra periods of hockey (even if it only means 1 extra goal)?!
In Nashville, once again the focus has moved from the ice to the stage. Like last year’s play-off tradition, the game begins with a celebrity singing the anthem. In Game 1, it was country singer Rascall Flatts whose performance was then followed by the ceremonial throwing of the Catfish. It was not until the 3rd period that Nashville decided to focus on hockey. They scored a couple of key goals early in the 3rd to lead them to victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
San Jose’s late season trade for Evander Kane paid off in their first game of the play-offs. Evander scored 2 goals to lead San Jose to a 3-0 win over Anaheim. If there is a positive to losing Game 1 for Anaheim, it is the fact that this franchise very rarely has short play-off series. They have a reputation for stretching each series to 7 games. More games mean more points and we definitely can count on the Ducks to score some goals in Game 2.
Finally, Tampa Bay might just be the team that wins someone our pool this season. They started off the play-offs with a very balanced approach with 4 different players scoring goals. The line of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat & Yanni Gourde is often referred to as a combination line. They will probably score often. So, if you have picked at least 2 of the 3 for your team, you will most likely earn multiple points on each Tampa Bay goal.
It is still too early to know if your selection strategy has worked this year. However, by the end of round one, we will start to separate the “poolies” from those who will be in the money and those who will be left behind. The best that we can all hope for now is that the losing teams in Game 1, will win their next game. If they do, it means at least 5 games for each series. More hockey means more points. But more importantly as true fans of the game, more hockey means more fun!
Former NHL Referee #18