The qualifying round of the 2020 playoffs has officially come to and end, and even I have to admit it was a whole lot of fun.
The NHL managed to pull off the bubble without a single positive COVID test, the weird situation made for some quality entertainment, and the hockey was excellent.
Now, we have a day off before the real fun begins, and we get to spend that day agonizing over whether or not it would have been better if all those teams we were rooting against had won, actually!
It’s going to be a long day.
The last game of the Eastern Conference round robin gave the Washington Capitals their first win, and the Bruins their third loss, cementing each team’s position in the standings. As the #3 seed, the Capitals will now face off against Pageau’s Islanders in the first round. The Bruins, as the #4 seed, will play the fifth place Hurricanes.
The teams traded chances throughout the game, with Washington’s two goals coming late in the first and early in the third. Boston managed to get on the board just over halfway through the third, but the goal did not spark a comeback, and the Capitals secured the win.
The Stars just managed to eke out a win over the defending champs, taking the game to a shootout despite looking like the better team throughout most of it. The Blues took an early lead only a few minutes into the game, and managed to hang on to it despite strong offensive play from Dallas.
The second period was especially frustrating for the Stars, as they spent several powerplays and a significant amount of regulation time just passing the puck around in the Blues’ zone and creating grade-A scoring chances that somehow failed to get past the goaltender. All those almost-goals probably would have taken years off my life if I were a fan of either of these teams; as it was, I yelled at my TV several times.
The Blues also did this, which I admit made me laugh pretty hard:
Just as it was starting to look like the Blues would pull off the win, Joe Pavelski tied the game with less than a minute left:
Overtime solved nothing, so the game went to a shootout, and the Stars won, guaranteeing them the third seed and a first-round matchup with the Calgary Flames. The Blues will play the Vancouver Canucks.
This matchup was quite possibly the most entertaining one of the qualifying round, so it’s only fitting that it would also be the last one to wrap up. The Leafs put up a good fight in this one, with over 30 shots on goal, but failed to get the puck past Joonas Korpisalo. In the end the Leafs were shut out 3-0 despite a lot of really good chances, with Zach Werenski scoring early in the first to give the Blue Jackets the lead, and Liam Foudy doubling the lead midway through the third. Former Senator Nick Foligno sealed the deal with an empty netter in the dying seconds of the game.
The Leafs being eliminated in the qualifying rounds when the bubble is located in their own city is objectively hilarious, especially since the Oilers were also eliminated so neither of the host teams will get to participate in the actual playoffs. I’m still terrified that the Leafs are going to win the first overall pick, but at least if they don’t, we’ll know by tonight.
The Blue Jackets will face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.
Up Next - Monday, August 10th
There’s no playoff hockey to watch today, as the qualifiers have come to an end and the first round doesn’t start until tomorrow, but don’t think that means we can relax! Today is the day of the second phase of the NHL draft lottery, meaning that, yes, we will find out which of the 8 teams that were eliminated in the qualifying round will win the chance to draft Alexis Lafrenière.
You can watch the second phase of the NHL draft lottery tonight at 6pm Eastern.