2019-20 NHL Season Recap – Part 2 – Best of the Year
Dallas Stars vs Calgary Flames
Other series were a bit tighter and shorter, like the Chicago Blackhawks vs Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning vs Columbus Blue Jackets. But nothing beat the sheer madness that was the Stars vs Flames. Each team is very talented by also highly flawed. Four of the six games were one-goal games. Each team alternated wins the first five games. Game 6 was a pure roller coaster. The flames scored three goals in three minutes in the first period, and you thought this game was over. But the stars scored a goal a few minutes later and then another in the opening minute of the second period, before exploding for their own three goals burst in four minutes. They added two more goals after that. Both runs were aided by bad defense, turnover, or lousy goaltending. Looking back at the first round, despite their talent, it’s incredible the Stars got as far as they did.
Best Game 7
Colorado Avalanche vs Dallas Stars
These teams were great, this series was awesome, and this Game 7 was amazing. I didn’t put it as the best series only because some games weren’t that close. The Stars have been in two highly compelling Game 7’s in a row now. First with the Blues and now this game. Games that give us an unsung playoff hero are also great. The Avalanche took a 3-2 lead into the third period, where the Stars scored a power-play goal halfway through the period. Five minutes later, the Avalanche took the lead back. A mere ten seconds later, the Stars tied the game to force overtime, where the Stars won it. Joel Kiviranta produced the game-tying goal and the game-winning goal in overtime to go along with his second-period goal for a hat trick. They were the first three goals he scored in the playoffs.
Team on the Rise
The Canucks advanced a little further than was expected this season. But the best is yet to come for them. Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby will be a great goaltending tandem. The trio of Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Brock Boeser should have the Canucks salivating. Quinn Hughes will only get better as their top defenseman. The Canucks have a lot of quality depth players, which is equally important.
The Coyotes seemed a year or two away, and if it weren’t for COVID, that probably would have been true. But they made the best of the situation and upset the Nashville Predators in the qualifiers, a notoriously tough out in the playoffs. But they crashed and burned against the Avalanche. They are moving in the right direction, but they still need another top player and more goal production.
Backup goalie wins
David Ayres had the rare opportunity to play the majority of an NHL game as an emergency goalie. James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were both injured in the second period during the Carolina Hurricanes vs Toronto Maple Leafs game. The Hurricanes were up 3-1 when he entered the game. Ayers is operations manager at the rink, but he had also been used occasionally as a goalie in Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies practices. He unsurprisingly let in two goals on his first two shots. But he pitched a shutout the rest of the game, and the Hurricanes scored three more goals to give him the win. It’s humiliating for the Maple Leafs that they only produced eight shots and no more goals after the initial two shots went in. The NHL mulled over changing the emergency backup rule but decided against it.
Ovechkin notched 700 goals and his eleventh 40 goal season. He would have hit 50 for the ninth time if not for COVID. If he can produce five more seasons like this, he can break Wayne Gretzky’s career goal mark. Of course, there are 46 WHA goals that Gretzky scored, which don’t count. That makes it easier. But Ovechkin does get shortchanged this year with the shortened season.