Welcome to Hockey After Dark, a nightly recap of the NHL playoffs made possible by insomnia, playoff anxiety, and my BFF caffeine. Come for the topical social commentary, and stay for the sporadic in-depth analysis littered with obscure literary references. If you enjoy the snark, feel free to follow me at @DXTraeger.
Flyers Trounce Penguins 5-1 / Human Sacrifice / Dogs & Cats Living Together…MASS HYSTERIA!
The Philadelphia Flyers obviously read my article from yesterday (yes, the article I initially posted to the wrong blog because I AM SO SMART! S-M-R-T!) and focused their orange & black efforts on getting the puck on net in lieu of trying to generate the perfect scoring chance, and the Flyers reaped the benefits, making Matt Murray mortal in the process.
Of course, the NHL added to the game’s drama by bringing in their officiating equivalent of Joss Whedon: hockey-narrative-script-doctor-dufus Tim Peel. Yes, the same Tim Peel that seems to magically interject one of his questionable calls into the outcome of every. single. game. he referees.
Tonight, Tim Peel made his presence felt early, calling a borderline board on Zach Aston-Reese while a solid 100+ feet away from the play.
Kris Letang’s rough night would begin on the ensuing Philly power-play: Letang’s inability to clear the puck while short-handed allowed the Flyers to close the first period with a late goal…
…An errant puck bounced off of Letang’s chest to give the Flyers a goal to open the second period…
…and then #58 suffered an apparent freak hand injury when Claude “Mr. Repeatedly” Giroux “accidentally” jumped/elbowed/INTERFERED with Letang, resulting in the Penguins’ defenseman damn near flipping and landing on his neck.
Giroux’s collision with Letang is an interesting talking point because if Giroux conscientiously and deliberately hit Letang (as replays seem to clearly show), then the contact constituted interference and warrants subsequent league review.
The legality of the Giroux/Letang incident is framed contextually by Drew Doughty’s somewhat surprising 1-game suspension and Nazem Kadri’s not-at-all surprising 3-game suspension for dangerously boarding a vulnerable Tommy Wingels.
The temporary loss of Letang didn’t affect much in terms of the game’s outcome, as the Penguins seemed to adopt Philly’s Game 1 strategy of getting too cute with the puck, squandering multiple power-play opportunities.
The Flyers also adjusted their play in their own end, stealing a page from John Tortorella and buttoning down the hatches in any & all shooting lanes. With the defense perfectly content to let the Penguins’ umbrella offense pass along the perimeter, Philly goalie Brian Elliott channeled his inner Chris Osgood and played a positionally sound, patient game that was in stark contrast to his manic Game 1 performance.
The 5-1 final mark didn’t fully reflect Pittsburgh’s stretches of dominant play, but rarely were the Flyers in danger of losing Game 2, and the two teams will head to Philadelphia with the series tied at 1-1.
The Winnipeg Jets Throttle the Minnesota Wild; Doctors Fear Bruce Boudreau’s Shocked Face May Be Permanent
Not much is going wrong for the folk in Winnipeg– outside of, you know, living in Winnipeg– as their hometown Jets took a commanding 2-0 series lead with a 4-1 victory over the straggling Minnesota Wild.
The game devolved into a Stompin Tom Corners ditty late in the 3rd, with Daniel Winnik, Brandon Tanev, Nick Seeler, and Ben Chiarot all landing 5 for Fighting (with several more players tagged with misconducts).
Minnesota looks hopelessly outmatched against a younger, faster, more skilled Winnipeg team, which is sad for former Penguins “Team Dad” Matt Cullen.
NBCSN & the NHL Create Their Own Special “HEIDI” Moment as the
Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Quick engaged in their second consecutive goaltender’s dual in a tightly contested Western Conference series. When regulation expired with the two teams tied at 1-1, the game’s carrier, NBCSN, went to its standard intermission programming…
…which apparently was swimming.
Much has been made by a lot of people on a lot of media platforms about the NHL’s awful TV deal, and last night won’t change many minds, because the NHL and NBCSN went and had themselves a second “Heidi Game.”
For the uninitiated, in 1968, NBC cut away from the closing moments of an NFL game between the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets to show the children’s movie “Heidi.”
Naturally, Oakland scored twice in the closing minute to claim a dramatic win that absolutely nobody outside the Oakland Coliseum saw because they were forced to watch a Bildungsroman story of a little German girl growing up in the Swiss Alps.
Fortunately, NBC would remedy its mistake from 50 years ago after about a minute into the overtime period, and hockey fans were able to watch the game sans further interruptions.
Speaking of watching the game…
Watching Marc-Andre Fleury perform in overtime from a neutral fan perspective is a full paradigm shift compared to watching him play as an invested fan (as was the case during the Flower’s tenure here in Pittsburgh).
Fleury seemed calm, composed, and confident as the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings’ game stretched late into the 2nd overtime, and the Vegas faithful were rewarded when Erik “HEIDI!” Haula scored at 15:22 to give the ol’ VGK a 2-0 series lead.
Not that anybody is keeping tabs, but Fleury has given up 1 goal in nearly 8 periods of hockey while Matt Murray has given up 4.