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 pop culture references. If you enjoy the snark, feel free to follow me at @DXTraeger
Did you know that Jack Nicholson has been retired from acting for 10 years?
It seems like Jack has always been there for us, ferociously chewing scenery and upstaging anyone silly enough to appear opposite of him in a film.
I bring Jack up, because he’s the perfect conduit to summarize Game 2 between the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins.
All things considered, this has been a quiet series given that Brad “Rat” Marchand (SPOILER ALERT) and Tom “I Drink Pee” Wilson are out there, skating against one another. 47 step charges notwithstanding, of course.
Tom Wilson with the charge of the century, lol pic.twitter.com/B1ROj9sZP0
— Nick Alberga (@thegoldenmuzzy) May 17, 2021
While the DDT’s and slewfoots have been kept to a minimum, the Caps and B’s have gone to overtime in both games to decide a winner.
In the first period of Monday’s Game 2, defense and goaltending were entirely optional, and each team scored twice accordingly.
Jake Debrusk opened the scoring for Boston, but the Bruins would only enjoy the lead for 1:26, at which point the hobbled T.J. Oshie scored his first of the post-season to tie the game at 1.
Patrice Bergeron would give the Bruins back the lead three minutes later, only to see my new favorite player name, “Garnet Hathaway,” even things with three minutes to go in the opening stanza.
The second period was uneventful, and it wasn’t until the esteemed Garnet Hathaway finished a 2-on-1 that the Capitals would take their first lead of the night.
It was Hathaway’s second goal of the night.
Craig Anderson and the Capitals would hold the lead until three minutes were left in regulation, at which point Taylor Hall escaped a check along the boards and got the puck to Anderson’s feet. Hall astutely followed the play, collecting the loose puck at the far side of the net and stuffing it underneath the sprawled Anderson.
The 3-3 tie held at the end of regulation, and when the teams reappeared for overtime, it took the Bruins only 39 seconds to end things:
Stupid Brad Marchand finished a cross-ice pass from David Krejzcqrpwninerjci to deflate the Washington faithful, and to tie the series at 1-1.
Carolina Hurricanes defeat the Nashville Predators in Game 1, 5-2
Fun fact: Tennessee is one of twenty-two states that allow for corporal punishment in the United States.
I only bring this up…because on Monday night…
…the Predators of Nashville, Tennessee, got SPANKED.
Jordan Staal tallied twice, and Hurricane players with last names consisting of at least 10 letters scored the three remaining goals: Niederreiter (12), Svechnikov (10), and Teravainen (10).
Filip “Remember When the Capitals Traded Me?” Forsberg and Erik Haula had goals for the Predators in defeat.
Folks, there’s a reason why Pekka Rinne took a farewell lap at the end of Nashville’s regular season: he knew, and the players know, that the Predators will gracefully exit the playoffs in 4 or 5 games.
The next Carolina victory will be on Wednesday night.
Colorado Avalanche defeat the St. Louis Blues in Game 1, 4-1
There’s an easy explanation as to why sports books (gambling for the uninitiated) have the Colorado Avalanche as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup: it’s because the Avalanche are REALLY good.
The St. Louis Blues are the Nashville Predators of the Honda West Division™. The Blues are but a few years removed from their feel-good “Gloria” Stanley Cup run, and they were playing without the services of their top scorer, David Perron.
…of course, when “David Perron” is your team’s top scorer and the decade begins with the number “2,” your team is just not very good.
Still, the Avalanche are armed with Nathan McKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantenen, and Cale Makar, so there’s no shame in losing to them.
Still, I’m sure that the Blues would have preferred to not have the Avalanche double them up in shots on goal (50 shots to 23), and the brouhahas at the final horn were entirely for show. Heck, the pushing and shoving wasn’t even symbolic, because anyone that watched that game knows the Blues are hopelessly, hilariously, out-gunned.
Penguins vs. the Islanders, Game 2 Thoughts
I already served up my thoughts on Game 1 yesterday, but here are a few more nuggets to digest before the Pens and Isles lace ’em up later tonight:
- Malkin isn’t likely to play, that much is known. What we don’t know, precisely, is why Malkin is unavailable: did he tweak his knee? Do the Penguins feel as though he’s incapable of playing a 200-foot game because of the knee/conditioning? There’s a ripple effect down the lineup with #71 out of the game, and that’s certainly Advantage: Islanders.
- The Penguins need to force the Islanders’ defenders to make decisions. Allowing New York to set up their collapsing box in front of their goalie is a recipe ripe for frustration and disaster. Since regularly beating the Isles in neutral zone transitions is a tall task, the Penguins need to go either side-to-side in the offensive zone (basically impossible the way the Islanders crowd the middle of the ice), operate low-to-high in the offensive zone (get New York to collapse toward their own net, freeing up Pittsburgh shooting lanes at the points), or commit a skater or two to occupy space alongside the Islanders and try to generate so much traffic in front of whomever the Islanders put in net that a puck or two slips through for goals.
- Tristan Jarry needs to be more aggressive and focus on keeping a good line with the shooter. The Islanders exploited his timidness on Sunday; a repeat performance from #35 could force an unthinkable switch in net for Pittsburgh.
- The Penguins need to shoot when the opportunities present themselves. Successful backdoor passes will be few and far between: Pittsburgh needs to get as many pucks on net and hope to force the Islanders out of their defensive shell as soon as possible.
- To that end, the Penguins need need NEED to score first. The Islanders are at their best when they are defending a lead, and they’re a completely different team (structure-wise) when playing from behind.
And now…your moment of shirtless DM hockey Zen: