Five things to know about the NHL playoffs
The Vegas Golden Knights and Chicago Blackhawks were big winners last night, the Montreal Canadiens had the best luck of all the Canadian non-playoff teams, and the Toronto Maple Leafs need a win tomorrow or they'll be erased from the post-season picture faster than you can chant "We want Florida."
Here are five things to know about the NHL playoffs:
OILERS NOT THRILLED GETTING DRILLED
The Edmonton Oilers said they'll be watching video today to see what went wrong last night as they got drilled 5-1 on home ice by the upgraded Vegas Golden Knights.
That "viewing party" will be less enjoyable than the one in Chicago last night.
The Oilers looked like world beaters in crushing the Golden Knights 5-1 on Saturday in Sin City, then looked lethargic last night despite scoring the game's first goal. They failed to put much pressure on backup goalie Adin Hill after he replaced the injured Laurent Brossoit, and they failed to produce anything on the power play.
Coach Jay Woodcroft said post-game it wasn't his team's finest hour, suggesting it might have been its worst effort of the playoffs. Snipers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held off the scoresheet and starting goalie Stuart Skinner was yanked after allowing four goals on 23 shots.
WIRTZ-CASE SCENARIO FOR CANADA
Rocky Wirtz's Chicago Blackhawks turned last night's watch party in the Windy City into a wild celebration when Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly flipped their lottery card on live TV to indicate they would get the No. 1 pick in the June 28-29 NHL entry draft in Nashville.
Dubbed the Connor Bedard sweepstakes a long time ago, the Blackhawks said they were excited to add a young player who can help the franchise's rebuilding project. As expected, Canadian teams that didn't make the playoffs said all the right things after learning the order that they'll select players at Bridgestone Arena next month.
The Canadiens will pick fifth, followed by the Vancouver Canucks (11th) and Calgary Flames (16th). Ottawa got the 12th pick, but it will go to Arizona to complete a March trade the Senators made with the Coyotes to obtain defenceman Jakob Chychrun.
LEAFS NEED CORE 4 TO SCORE
It was almost automatic in every game this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs that either Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Auston Matthews or John Tavares was going to score a goal.
That was the case until the Leafs reached the Eastern Conference semifinals. Three games in against the Florida Panthers and that fearsome foursome has only flailed and failed. It's also a major reason that the Panthers can sweep their second-round series with a win on Wednesday night.
After scoring at least once in 81 of Toronto’s 88 games this season, Marner, Nylander, Matthews and Tavares have combined for exactly zero goals in their best-of-seven matchup with the Panthers.
CATS CLOSE IN ON SWEEP
The Florida Panthers entered the post-season viewed as a team that probably wouldn’t accomplish much. They were the second wild-card squad, an inconsistent eighth seed, and they’d be facing the best regular-season team the NHL has ever seen in Round 1.
Well, Boston is gone, and with another win Florida will show the favoured Maple Leafs the door, too.
Coach Paul Maurice, who couldn't lead the Leafs to playoff glory when he coached them from 2006 to 2008, said his cool Cats haven't felt any pressure this post-season because no one took them seriously. Their focus and looseness leaves them one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 1996.
Not bad for zero expectations.
DEVIL PAYS HIS DUES
Forward Tomas Tatar, one of only two Devils to finish with a negative plus-minus stat line following Sunday's 8-4 win over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, took a negative hit to the wallet yesterday as well.
The NHL's Department of Player Safety revealed that Tatar was fined the maximum $5,000 for high-sticking Sebastian Aho of the Hurricanes at 12:20 of the first period. Tatar was assessed a minor penalty at the time for the infraction.
Aho scored a second-period goal for the Hurricanes, who fell behind 3-0 in the first period and never caught up. The 'Canes outhit the Devils 46-33.
The Devils, who trail their best-of-seven series 2-1, will attempt to even it up tonight when they host the Hurricanes at the Prudential Center. In other action tonight, the Seattle Kraken will look to take a 3-1 series lead when they host the Dallas Stars at Climate Pledge Arena.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2023.
The Canadian Press