Stanley Cup Playoffs: Day One
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Kobe’s final game!!! No, that’s silly. There are more important things going on. For example, THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS ARE HERE!!! Nothing else matters right now.
After a long and heartbreaking season for some, especially Canadian teams, the moment of truth has arrived. So let’s tighten up our laces, tape up our sticks, and start growing those beards!
Lightning (2) vs. Red Wings (3)
Tampa Bay and Detroit fans must be having deja vu since these two teams faced off last year in the first round. The Lightning were the ones to advanced, but the Red Wings would like this series to have a different ending.
Detroit had an advantage with Lightning’s captain Steven Stamkos out with an upper body injury, but they failed to capitalize and their biggest struggle was trying to beat Ben Bishop, who had 34 saves in the 3-2 win.
Tampa Bay proved they do not need their captain. Nikita Kucherov took charge of the game after his wicked one timer into the upper right corner passed Red Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard. Kucherov would gain two more points during the game with a goal in the second and an assist on Alex Killorn’s game-winning goal.
The Red Wings did have multiple chances to move this game into overtime. Mike Green, who scored in the second, had Detroit’s best chance with a loose puck in front of the net. He chipped it a little too high.
Game 2: Fri. April 15 7:00 PM ET Tampa Bay leads 1-0
Penguins (2) vs. Rangers (3)
King Henry was no match against Jeff Zatkoff in his playoff debut. Zatkoff, who replaced Marc-Andre Fleury who is still sidelined from a concussion, dominated the net with 35 saves in Pittsburgh 5-2 over New York.
Zatkoff did have some offensive help, especially from Patric Hornqvist. With an empty net, Hornqvist walked away with a hat trick plus an assist. Captain Sidney Crosby got his first playoff goal this season with a breakaway in the second.
Zatkoff and Penguins offense were not the only problems for the Rangers. They lacked speed and determination in the game. Their lack of communication left them off the scoreboard until the third. Now their biggest problem is if Henrik Lundqvist is able to return in Game 2.
Near the end of the first period, Rangers’ defenseman Marc Staal made an attempt to block the puck with his stick in front of Lundqvist. The stick blade ended up going through Lundqvist’s facemask and hitting him in the eye.
Even if Lundqvist does return, there’s no guarantee he’s going to be at the top of his game. Lundqvist has been struggling recently, especially against the Penguins. He did give a beauty of a gif though when he flipped over his net.
The Rangers need to either rest or watch some inspirational sports movies if they want a win in Game 2. Or else they could be the team to be swept away this first round.
Game 2: Sat. April 16 3:00 PM ET Pittsburgh leads 1-0
Blues (2) vs. Blackhawks (3)
David Backes proved if you shoot the puck towards the net, good things will happen.
In what was the most exciting and nail-biting game of the night, the Blues and Blackhawks battled it out for over 69 minutes until one claimed victory. With nine minutes into the first overtime, Backes, parallel to the net, shot the puck. It ricocheted off of Blackhawks’ defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk’s skate to end up in the net. Corey Crawford (17 saves) never had a chance.
This game was Chicago’s to take. They outshot St. Louis 35-18, they had speed, and they controlled the puck all over the ice. They, however, could not figure out Brian Elliott, who had 35 saves in this shutout.
Though the Blues lacked an offensive game, they came out big on the boards. The blues outhit the Blackhawks 41-24 and racked up the penalty minutes. And still, the Blackhawks could not score.
Both teams are adamant on getting to the next round. If this was only the first game, I cannot imagine and wait for the rest of the series.
Game 2: Fri. April 15 8:00 PM ET St. Louis leads 1-0