Five Thoughts: Flyers go off, upsets abound out west
Dylan Callaghan-Croley (@DylanCCNHL
August 3, 2020
The second day of the NHL restart featured an eventful 13 hours of hockey from noon eastern time to just past 1:00 a.m eastern time. With that, there’s a lot to take away from 13 hours of hockey and here are just a few of those thoughts.
1. Arizona Coyotes 4 - Nashville Predators 3 | Coyotes Show They're Ready For the Big Stage
In another early upset, the Arizona Coyotes took down the Nashville Predators in game one by a final of 4-3. The game saw Juuse Saros get the start for the Predators, snapping Pekke Rinne’s 89 consecutive playoff starts for the Predators.
While this Predators team isn’t the Predators of the last few years, it’s still a highly talented team that has plenty of playoff experience. On Saturday, however, the Coyotes were able to get off to the quick start on the Predators going up 3-0 in the first period. While they weren’t able to keep up that intensity throughout the game, it surely was a good sign for Rick Tocchet’s group.
2. Philadelphia Flyers 4 - Boston Bruins 1: Flyers Bottom Six Show They Can Get the Job Done
The Philadelphia Flyers got the jumpstart in the Eastern Conference Round Robin as they defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1. The Flyers goal scoring didn’t come from their usual suspects as they got goals from Michael Raffl, Nate Thompson, Phil Myers, and Scott Laughton.
It is worth noting that Michael Raffl left late in the third period with a suspected leg injury after going awkwardly into the boards. It was a play similar to that of the Mark Schiefele/Matthew Tkachuk play on Saturday night. Some will call it dirty, some will call it a hockey player but the one thing that is for sure is it didn’t look good for Raffl who needed assistance to get off the ice.
That being said, if the Flyers are going to get even a portion of this type of play out of their bottom six, their going to be an extremely hard team to beat in any series during the playoffs. A well built team, their dangerous in all facets of the game. Additionally, Flyers goalie Carter Hart looked tremendous in his first career playoff game, saving 33 of 34 shots.
3. Colorado Avalanche 2 - St. Louis Blues 1 | A Great Goalie Battle
The second round robin game of Sunday was the more competitive game of the two as both the Avalanche and Blues put in strong defensive efforts. Despite a total of 70 total shots in the game, both St.Louis goalie Jordan Binnington and Colorado goalie Phillip Grubauer stopped nearly everything coming their way.
Binnington last year of course was the star of the show as the Blues made their Stanley Cup winning run. Grubauer, on the other hand, wasn’t the Avalanche’s definite starter heading into the game but it will be hard for Jared Bednar not to go back to Grubauer for game two after stopping 31 of 32 shots the Blues sent his way on Sunday night. The Avalanche would end up getting the win at the last second (literally, the last possible second) and take the early lead for the Western Conference No.1 seed. That being sad, if both goalies play as strong as they did on Sunday going forward, these two teams may be destined to play again later in the playoffs.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets 2 - Toronto Maple Leafs 0 | Deja Vu?
Last year a major reason for the Blue Jackets first round upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning was a strong defensive effort. In their four-game sweep of the Lightning, the Blue Jackets let in just eight goals. In game one of their qualifying round matchup on Sunday against the Maple Leafs, it once again was the Columbus defense showing what they could do. The Blue Jackets played smart and disciplined hockey on Sunday and remained aggressive while doing so.
The Blue Jackets let up just 28 shots in the game and let Joonas Korpisalo take control of his crease early and get in a groove. The Jackets were aggressive all over the ice, totaling 35 shots in the game but also out hitting the Maple Leafs 37-26. Despite that physical aggressiveness, the Blue Jackets committed just one penalty in the entire game and killed off the Maple Leafs ensuing powerplay. It’s also worth noting the Blue Jackets blocked 18 Toronto shots on Sunday evening.
Offensively, Columbus got the job done thanks to Cam Atkinson and Alexander Wennberg who both scored third period goals in the game to give the Blue Jackets their 2-0 Game One victory. If Columbus continues their strong defensive play for the rest of the series, they’ll put themselves in great position to upset the Maple Leafs.
5. Minnesota Wild 3 - Vancouver Canucks 0: Experience may be the difference maker in this series
We predicted Vancouver to win this series but if game one is any indication of these two teams, the Wild may be the team to pick. The Wild on Sunday night were by far the better team and it looked like experience played a major part of their success in the game. The Wild have made the playoffs six of the last seven years and that experience showed itself on Sunday night. The Wild who had questions regarding their blue line coming into the game ended up playing really well, keeping the Canucks to 28 shots while blocking 15 shots. They also played smart hockey, totaling only nine penalty minutes (only one Vancouver power play) but also just turning the puck over five times throughout the game.
The Canucks may be the more talented team but their lack of playoff experience showed in game one of the series. They’ll need to reset and find their game before Tuesday night when they take on the Wild in game two.