2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2 So Far
Well as much as I was hoping and predicting all the NHL Stanley Cup 2nd Round series would go seven games. It looks like they will all follow second round tradition and end early. One thing to note is that all the top seeds in the Eastern Conference advanced in the second round but all the lower seeds, except for the Anaheim Ducks, advanced in the Western Conference. I hadn’t noticed that until now. In the second round, it looks like the reverse is happening.
A1 Montreal Canadiens vs. A2 Tampa Bay Lightning
What we learned: Montreal is more offensively inept than we thought
Things I like: Goaltending in this series has been superb. The Lighting powerplay passing, in Game 2, was a thing of beauty. Steven Stamkos had a beautiful breakaway goal on Game 2. Great defensive effort by Torrey Mitchell in Game 2 that was wasted. The last second Game 3 goal was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Great job by the Lightning for playing hard at the end. And of course it was Tyler Johnson who scored it. Have no idea how he could be that wide open though.
Things I don’t: I feel for Ben Bishop, who thought he had the game tying goal in his glove in Game 1. It happens. Good for him for shaking it off. I agree with waving off the goal in the first overtime but it should be reviewable regardless of goalie contact. Not sure if Toronto told them that or that was because it was the original call on the ice. If Toronto told them that, then fine but if that was the original call, then they should be able to review it to make sure that was in fact the right call. Game 2 was sad for many reasons. Seemed like the whole game was played on a powerplay or a 4 on 4. Barely anything at even strength. Montreal was the better team to start, just like Game 1, but they only scored 1 game. Considering how bad the Lightning D was, that’s kind of pathetic. Then the Lightning powerplay work up and that was it. Carey Price can only do so much. That’s the main problem when your best player is a goalie. Montreal can’t buy a goal. Even their breakaways don’t lead to anything.
Likely Winner: Lightning. I guess the best revenge for getting swept out of the playoffs is to beat your opponent 8 times in a row. If they win one more time, they will sweep them out of the playoffs. As for Montreal, well they can’t score. They only really have one player that can score, Max Pacioretty, and he usually doesn’t show up in the playoffs. This has basically been the same team for the past five years. Live and die by your goalie. I’m not sure how they ever expect to win a Stanley Cup that way or why they thought this playoff run would go any further than their other failed attempts.
M1 New York Rangers vs. W1 Washington Capitals
What we learned: Holtby is more than capable of one upping Lundqvist
Things I like: This series has had tons of great chances on both ends. Both goalies have really risen to the occasion. I love Alex Ovechkin talking trash to Henrik Lundqvist with his, “All series baby”. He backed it up with an unbelievable goal from his knees in Game 2. Almost 8 minutes of non-stop action in Game 3. That’s what makes hockey a unique experience, loved it. Actually, Game 3 as a whole was the best game of the playoffs so far. It’s a shame that the only goal scored was a lame goal off of a Rangers stick/skate. But a heads up play by Jay Beagle to make that goal happen.
Things I don’t: I thought the hit and the end of Game 1 was fine. The no call was fine by me. The Rangers just need to keep playing until they hear the whistle. The Capitals inability to keep an eye on Derick Brassard really cost them, as he had the eventual game winner. Holtby could have done a better job but five hole goals are just about your reflexes.
Likely Winner: Capitals. Well I did say I don’t see them as a team that can go on a deep playoff run. And while I still believe that, they are obliviously good enough to beat two decent teams from New York. This was the only 2nd round series that was hard to pick. But Holtby has just been shutting the Rangers down and it’s tough to win when you can’t score.
C3 Chicago Blackhawks vs. W1 Minnesota Wild
What we learned: Same old Blackhawks running wild on the Central Division
Thing I like: The first two periods in Game 1 weren’t even but after that is has been. Great game 2 goal by Patrick Kane from a great pass by Duncan Keith. Speaking of them, I don’t think either can play any better than they have been. After struggling against the Predators, Corey Crawford has rebounded really well against the Wild.
Things I don’t: Bad turnover by Ryan Suter in Game 2 and a bad change that led to two goals. Can’t do that against the Blackhawks. Zach Parise hasn’t been that visible. You can thank Jonathan Toews defense for that. Without him, the Wild have no chance. It’s sad how different the Wild look as a team. They look nothing like the world beaters that beat the Blues. They look like the team that laid the egg in Game 4 against the Blues. Devan Dubnyk has just been average too.
Likely Winner: Blackhawks. I’d be surprised if it didn’t end in a sweep. The Wild have just lost their game. Plus the Blackhawks have never lost to a Central division team in the playoffs since Kane and Toews got there.
P1 Anaheim Ducks vs. P3 Calgary Flames
What we learned: The Ducks look like the team to beat and have only lost once, barely
Things I like: If you are a Ducks fan, you enjoyed Game 1. Total domination. Great smothering defense by the Ducks, especially in the 3rd period of Game 2. The Flames couldn’t get any established zone time. Corey Perry has really raised his playoff game. What a huge goal by Johnny Gaudreau in Game 3 to send it to overtime. We finally got a wild 3rd period we hope we were going to get every game. Frederik Andersen has raised his games and made some crucial stops.
Things I don’t: The Flames did not show up in Game 1. Not sure what they were doing in their five days off. They should have been watching film and practicing. While I get pulling your goalie, at some point they just need to leave Hiller in. I think that goal that was said to not be a goal, in Game 3 in the 3rd period, was. It’s pretty clear it was all the way over in the replay. True, you only saw it form one angle but how many angles do you need?
Likely Winner: Ducks. After their Game 3 win, the Flames might show up more but they’re still too young of a team to really pose a threat.
Goat of the Week
Hampus Lindholm – Anaheim Ducks
Lindholm break dances? Not sure what he was doing but it led to a shorthanded breakaway for the Flames.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
April 30, 1994 Igor Larionov picked up two assists as San Jose won 3-2 at Detroit in Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals. The Sharks became the first team since the 1975 New York Islanders to advance to the second round in their playoff debut.
May 1, 2004 Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff recorded his second career playoff shutout, and Craig Conroy scored in the second period to lead the Flames to a 1-0 win over at Detroit, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
May 2, 2000 Andy Delmore scored his first 2 playoff goals, with the 2nd coming at 11:01 of overtime to give the Flyers a 4-3 win at Pittsburgh, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conf Semi-Finals. Delmore became just the 5th NHL rookie defenseman to score a goal in OT.
May 3, 1970 Boston’s John Bucyk scored a hat trick as the Bruins won 6-1 at St. Louis in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Phil Esposito scored the 500th goal in Bruins playoff history.
May 4, 1972 Bobby Orr scored a goal to break the career record for defensemen playoff goals. #17 came in only his 47th playoff game. He broke the mark set by Detroit’s Red Kelly (16) in 94 playoff games. Boston lost to the Rangers, 5-2 at New York.
May 5, 1984 New York Islanders’ goaltender Bill Smith became the NHL’s all-time leader in career playoff victories, in a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. His 81st career Stanley Cup win moved him one ahead of Ken Dryden.
May 6, 1999 Ed Belfour stopped 23 shots for his 5th career playoff shutout (and his 50th playoff victory) in the Stars’ 3-0 win against the visiting St. Louis Blues, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
Author: Alex Mueller
Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.