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  • The Stanley Cup Playoffs are under way and that means it's beard season. Most players who participate begin clean-shaven. Then there's Radko Gudas of the Tampa Bay Lightning who had several weeks of beard on his face Wednesday night in Game 1. But the truth is he shaved that morning, that's how quickly he can grow some facial foliage.

    Two members of the Philadelphia Flyers' top line are getting into the act in a unique way. Jake Voracek and Scott Hartnell head into their first round series against the New York Rangers with beards, but they've decided to dye them black.

    @sbaickerCSN
    For Voracek, he wanted to do something different than the traditional playoff beard. Linemate Scott Hartnell felt compelled to join him in dyeing their beards black because he didn't want him to be the only one.

    Their teammates are pretty skeptical at the choice.

    Via NJ.com:

    “Jake's beard … Um, I don’t know if I should comment on that," Simmonds said. "It's pretty ugly. What's bad is it’s contrasting styles. He’s got

    Read More »from Flyers playoff beards prove orange is the new dyed-black (Photo)
  • (Ed. Note: With its new playoff format, the NHL is seeking to create passion for fans and teams through forced, bracketed relationships. But hey, at first glance, the matchups are pretty sexy. All of this led to one ideal theme for our 2014 Playoff Preview: Tinder, the social media dating app. We hope you swipe right this postseason ...)

    The St. Louis Blues looked like they were going to avoid the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 1 … until a late season injury-fueled tumble led to the Colorado Avalanche hopping over them into first place in the Central and dropped the Blues into a very tough first-round battle.

    Both teams faced post-Sochi injuries to star players, but should have the majority of them back for this series.

    Who wins this showdown between former Norris Division rivals?

    FORWARDS

    The biggest question for the St. Louis Blues entering this series was how many of the forwards listed here would actually appear against the Blackhawks. The Blues were hit with several injuries up

    Read More »from St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Puck Daddy’s Tinder NHL Preview
  • With due respect to Steve Mason and Ray Emery, to a blue line that’ll have to handle Rick Nash and Marty St. Louis, to a coach in Craig Berube doing this playoff thing for the first time, there is one key to the Philadelphia Flyers’ series against the New York Rangers, and his name is Claude Giroux.

    The criteria for an MVP gets thrown around a lot this time of year, but Giroux was third on my ballot – behind Sidney Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf – for good reason: As he goes, so go the Flyers.

    Giroux scored 64 points in their 42 wins, including 25 goals. That’s a 1.52 points per game average. In their losses, he had 22 points in 40 games, including three goals. That’s a 0.55 points per game average. Look, I’m no math major, but …

    He was their third-best forward in corsi when the game was tied and in one-goal games, driving possession numbers with his top line.

    In the big picture, the Flyers turned their season around when he did. And while his Oct. 22 guarantee that Philadelphia would make

    Read More »from Claude Giroux’s the key vs. NY Rangers
  • No. 1 Star: Dale Weise, Montreal Canadiens

    The Habs forward was in the right place at the right time – 18:08 of OT – when Daniel Briere hit him with a pass from behind the net. Weise snapped a shot past a frozen Anders Lindback for the 5-4 victory in Game 1 of Montreal’s series vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    No. 2 Star: Brandon Sutter, Pittsburgh Penguins

    Sutter’s wrist shot at 8:18 of the third period beat Sergei Bobrovsky and gave the Pittsburgh Penguins their only lead of the night – and the game-winning goal in their 4-3 victory. Sutter also won 53 percent of his faceoffs.

    No. 3 Star: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

    Even in a losing effort, Stamkos was awesome in Game 1 vs. Montreal. He skated 27:31, scored two goals and was dangerous on almost every shift.

    Honorable mention: Ryan Getzlaf and Matt Beleskey had a goal and an assist each as the Anaheim Ducks held off a Dallas Stars’ rally for a 4-3 victory. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin scored in the losing effort. Frederik

    Read More »from Stanley Cup Playoffs Three Stars: OT drama in Tampa; Sutter power Penguins
  • With 16.3 seconds remaining in Game 1 of their divisional semifinal series on Wednesday night, Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin took a slap shot with a bouncing puck at the Anaheim Ducks goal.

    Center Ryan Getzlaf watched the shot sail into the air … and right into his mouth, dropping the captain to the ice in a heap.

    Getzlaf donated a bit of blood on the ice before the Ducks’ trainer led him to the back.

    The Ducks hung on to win, 4-3, despite a late rally by Dallas. Which should put a smile on Getzlaf’s face, assuming this is still physically possible.

    Coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game that Getzlaf was getting stitched up and is "probably going to be ok but will have a nasty cut."

    Read More »from Ryan Getzlaf takes slap shot to the mouth in Game 1 vs. Dallas (Video)
  • Daniel Briere is one of only 35 players in NHL history to average more than a point per playoff game, entering the Montreal Canadiens’ Game 1 battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night with 109 points in 108 playoff games.

    Make that 110 points in 109 games. Briere made the key play in overtime, leading to Dale Weise’s game-winner at 18:08 and the 5-4 victory.

    The play was started by Michael Bournival, who forced a pair of turnovers by Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas and got the puck deep. Briere fired a shot that was blocked, the puck traveling back to the point where Josh Gorges corralled it. He sent it in back of the net where three Lightning players were defending two Canadiens.

    It traveled to Briere, who shook his check by Eric Brewer – who had a terrible night – and sent a pass in front to Weise for the snap-shot that beat a frozen Anders Lindback.

    The goat on the play? Rookie Cedric Paquette, who has two regular season games to his credit and was playing in his first

    Read More »from Daniel Briere, playoff beast, sets up Canadiens’ OT winner vs. Lightning (Video)
  • Despite not being traditional rivals, the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning located their animosity rather quickly in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Playoffs divisional semifinal on Wednesday. That including a scrum during the game in which Steven Stamkos (of all people) went after Andrei Markov after a late hit on Ondrej Palat.

    As true hockey fans know, there is but one reaction to seeing this kind of passion and postseason drama: Lemme get a selfie!

    Now, on the one hand, the idea of turning your back on the action to self-indulge when playoff action is unfolding a few feet away from your pricy lower bowl seats is nearly a hockey sin.

    On the other hand … you have to admit that’s a pretty sweet selfie. Unless this was just more viral marketing for Samsung …

    With that – Pass or Fail: Taking a selfie during a scrum at the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    Via the great Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn)

    Read More »from Pass or Fail: Taking a selfie during Stanley Cup Playoffs players’ scrum
  • The Stanley Cup Playoffs. Brutality. Passion. Heroes. Villains. Celebrations. Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”

    There are a few of our favorite things, and Hockey Night In Canada’s mad genius Tim Thompson put it all together in an incredible montage for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ opening night:

    Really, any opening that can feature James Hetfield, Pat Burns and the California Golden Seals gets all the love and affection we can shower on 3 and a half minutes of hockey highlights.

    Kudos for not using "Enter Sandman," as well.

     

     

  • Happy Hockey Christmas every!

    The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Wednesday night, so tell your family you’ll catch up with them sometime in June. As a reminder, here are the first-round battles:

    EASTERN CONFERENCE

    Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings

    Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens

    Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

    New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers

    WESTERN CONFERENCE

    Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars

    San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings

    Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild

    St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks

    Who wins the first round battles? Who wins the big prize?

    Glad you asked … here are the official Puck Daddy playoff picks from our editors, writers and friends.

    Greg Wyshynski, Editor

    Bruins in 7
    Lightning in 7
    Blue Jackets in 6
    Rangers in 5

    Ducks in 5
    Sharks in 7
    Avalanche in 5
    Blackhawks in 6

    Stanley Cup: Sharks over Bruins in 6

    Conn Smythe: Patrick Marleau

    This actually marks the 40th season that I’ve selected the Sharks to win the Cup. I know this

    Read More »from Puck Daddy’s 2014 Stanley Cup Playoff staff prognostications: Who wins?
  • FILE - This Feb. 6, 2014 file photo shows Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates on the bench in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, in Washington. Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are fading. Ovechkin has gone without a point in the last four games, and his team has lost five of its past six to drop to 10th in the Eastern Conference. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

    [Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]

    8. The Leafs, still in the news

    In a shocking turn of events, the Toronto Maple Leafs did something this week to distract from the fact that they missed the playoffs again in spectacular fashion.

    Brendan Shanahan in, no one (as of today) out.

    Which is an odd way to go about things if you're an organization built, presumably, on accountability. After all, the terms “culture” and “identity” were thrown around a lot by Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis, the two men at the helm of this shambolic wreck, and they've shown very little inclination to change it of their

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Sewing Oates, the end of Trotz and delusional Brodeur

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