The last two weeks of playoff hockey have been awesome! There were five series that went to seven games, a few comebacks, and an upset. I give a quick recap of all eight Round 1 playoff series. Plus, Montreal wins the Draft Lottery and an AHL goalie scores a goal.
1. The First Round is Finished
It took two weeks, but the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs is completed. Five of the eight series went to seven games, while two more series went to six games. Here’s a quick rundown of each series:
Colorado Avalanche Win Series 4-0 Against Nashville Predators
This was the only sweep in the first round. The Avalanche scored five goals in the first period of Game 1, and the series was pretty much over after that. Colorado outscored Nashville 21-9 in the four games, including scores of 7-2 in Game 1 and 7-3 in Game 3. The only time the Preds came close to anything resembling a win was a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 2. The Avalanche will face the Blues in Round 2.
St. Louis Blues Wins Series 4-2 Against Minnesota Wild
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleur was the big acquisition at the trade deadline for the Wild, and was expected to give the team options in net — be it Flower or incumbent number one goalie Cam Talbot. The Wild went with Fleury, who gave up four goals in a 4-0 loss in Game 1. The Wild and Fleury bounced back by winning Game 2 6-2 and Game 3 5-1. But the Blues would not be deterred, overwhelming the Wild with 15 goals over the next three games. The Blues tied the series winning Game 4 5-2, then jumped ahead with another 5-2 win in Game 5. The Wild went with Plan B — a.k.a. starting Cam Talbot — in Game 6, but lost 5-1. You can’t fault Fleury nor Talbot for the Wild’s lack of scoring. The Blues will face the Avalanche in Round 2.
Florida Panthers Win Series 4-2 Against Washington Capitals
Was this series ever in doubt? Sure, the Panthers were down 2-1 in the series, but they also had 29 come-from-behind wins during the regular season, en route to winning the President’s Trophy. So, being behind in a game — or even a series, I guess — is just business as usual for the Comeback Cats. Heck, the team came back and won Game 4 in overtime, won Game 5 after coming back from a three-goal deficit, and came back twice in Game 6 to clinch the series. The Panthers will face the Lightning in Round 2, in what should be an exciting “Battle of Florida State” matchup.
Carolina Hurricanes Win Series 4-3 Against Boston Bruins
For the first six games of the series, the home team didn’t just win — they won big! Consider that Carolina won its first three home games by scores of 5-1, 5-2, and 5-1. Boston won its three home games 4-2, 5-2, and 5-2. It all came down to Game 7 — cliché, I know — which turned out to be a much-tighter game. Max Domi scored two goals for the ‘Canes, including the game-winner, in Carolina’s 3-2 win over Boston. And while Bruins’ captain Patrice Bergeron hasn’t said if he was going to retire after this season, he did shake hands with the referees and linesmen after doing the handshake line with the Hurricanes, then hugged each of his Bruins teammates when they exited the ice. Hmmmm…..Anyway, the Hurricanes will play the Rangers in Round 2.
Tampa Bay Lightning Win Series 4-3 Against Toronto Maple Leafs
This was another series that should never have been in doubt. Yes, the Maple Leafs did have home-ice advantage, and YES, the Maple Leafs did shut out the Lightning 5-0 in Game 1. But c’mon, man! The Lighting are still the team that won the last two Stanley Cup Championships, and they still have their core intact: Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, Brayden Point, and Ondrej Palat. Plus, Vasilevskiy has been streaky this season. Sometimes, he allows four or five goals in a game, and other times, he plays like the NHL’s best goalie. He sure did in Game 7, allowing only one goal in Tampa’s 2-1 win. The Lightning will face the Panthers in a cross-state series for Round 2.
Edmonton Oilers Win Series 4-3 Against Los Angeles Kings
Look, the Kings forced a Game 7, and that is admirable for the a team that squeaked into the playoffs. But like a fine wine, Connor McDavid keeps getting better with age. The Oilers’ captain, who scored 123 points in 80 regular-season games, could not be stopped. McDavid put up four goals and 10 assists in the seven-game series. He pretty much single-handedly won Game 7 for the Oilers, assisting on Codi Ceci’s goal — the game-winner — and then adding an insurance goal in Edmonton’s 2-0 win. (Oh yeah, and Oilers goalie Mike Smith got the shutout, too.) The Oilers will face the Flames in an exciting “Battle of Alberta” matchup in Round 2.
New York Rangers Win Series 4-3 Against Pittsburgh Penguins
It took seven games — with the first and last games going to overtime — but the Rangers beat the Penguins in Round 1. The Pens had an uphill battle, with starting goalie Tristian Jarry out for the first round, then backup Casey DeSmith getting injured in Game 1, and then captain Sidney Crosby getting injured and missing Game 6. The Penguins played well enough to get a 3-1 series lead, but third-string goalie Louis Domingue didn’t play all that great, posting a goals-against average of 3.65 and a save percentage of .898. Both Crosby and Jarry came back for Game 7, and the Pens held the lead twice, but Artemi Panarin scored the OT winner. Props to the Rangers for coming back from a 3-1 deficit and winning three games in a row. The Rangers will play the Hurricanes in Round 2.
Calgary Flames Win Series 4-3 Against Dallas Stars
Even the very last Game 7 of the first round needed overtime. The Flames-Stars series swung back and forth quite a bit. Calgary won the first game, then Dallas won two games, then Calgary won two games. Dallas won the next game to force Game 7. Stars’ goalie Jake Ottinger made 60 saves, but it wasn’t enough — mainly because his teammates weren’t shooting the puck! — and the Flames won in OT 3-2 on a goal by Johnny Gaudreau. Ottinger’s 60 saves is the second-most in a Game 7 in NHL history. The Flames will face the Oilers in Round 2 for the first “Battle of Alberta” in the playoffs since 1991.
Further Reading: 2022 NHL Round 2 Playoff & TV Schedule
2. Montreal Wins 2022 NHL Draft Lottery
The Montreal Canadiens were three games away from winning the Stanley Cup in 2021. And now a season later, the Canadiens were the worst team in the NHL. It isn’t often that a team goes from second-best to worst-overall in just a year, but the Habs did it. Probably the only thing that did go the team’s way this season is that they won the Draft Lottery, so they will have the first-overall pick at the NHL Draft in July. As the team that finished dead-last in the league, the Canadiens had the best odds to get the first-overall pick, and lady luck was on their side for a change.
The New Jersey Devils moved up three spots and will pick second-overall. The Arizona Coyotes, who had the second-worst record, will pick third. The NHL Draft will take place July 7 and 8
Further Reading: Canadiens win No. 1 pick for sixth time in franchise history
3. AHL Goalie Joel Hofer Scores Goal
A PLAYOFF GOALIE GOAL BY JOEL HOFER pic.twitter.com/DwkJLCgOFH
— x – Springfield Thunderbirds (@ThunderbirdsAHL) May 13, 2022
Springfield Falcons goalie Joel Hofer scored an empty net goal against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on May 12. Hoefer, who made his NHL debut with the Blues earlier this season, lobbed the puck over nearly everyone and into the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ net, was mobbed by teammates, and then skated by his bench to high-five the rest of his team. Hofer is the 18th goalie in AHL history to score a goal, and just the second to do so in a Calder Cup playoff game.
Further Reading: Hofer scores, makes 34 saves in Game 2 win
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■