It was a quiet day yesterday for the current state of the NHL. With only one game on the schedule, and having to wait until 8:00pm Eastern to watch it, it almost felt like a day off for hockey fans.
Almost dead even in shots on goal, the Dallas Stars came out on top in the first matchup of this star studded affair. This game was play almost entirely at even strength, as well, leaving plenty of ice time for Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Nathan MacKinnon and Nazem Kadri to get to work.
The game kicked off with Seguin and MacKinnon exchanging goals in the first five minutes of the opening frame.
The Avs social media person is right - this is going to be a high skilled, fun series moving forward if all the big names keep showing up like they did in game one.
Later in the first, Blake Comeau and Radulov gave the Stars a commanding 3-1 lead.
Gabriel Landeskog and MacKinnon did their best in the second period to rally but another tally from Radulov kept the Stars lead in tact long enough for a Roope Hintz insurance goal in the third to seal the deal.
The big names definitely came to play as Jamie Benn (3A), Radulov (2G, 1A) and Seguin (1G, 1A) all had solid nights for the Stars. On the other side, MacKinnon (2G, 1A) was absolutely dominant while Landeskog (1G, 1A) and Kadri (1A) continued to add offense behind him.
The biggest storyline to follow coming out of game one will be what happens between the pipes for the Avalanche.
Needing assistance to even get off the ice, this doesn’t look good for Colorado’s starting netminder, as any injury to his lower body - which it appears likely to be - could mean a lengthy leave of absence. The good news for Colorado fans is they have a very capable goaltending in Pavel Francouz to fill in for Grubauer in the mean time. Posting a 0.923 SV% across 32 starts this season and 0.941 SV% so far in the bubble, Francouz is no slouch and this shouldn’t be too big of a blow to the Stanley Cup hopes of the Colorado Avalanche.
Boston Bruins @ Tampa Bay Lightning, 8:00PM EST
The Bruins face off against the Lightning today in a much anticipated Eastern Conference bout. Since they fumbled their way through the round robin matchups, hockey fans seem to think the President’s Trophy winners are coming in as the underdogs. After they dismantled the Hurricanes in round one, expect David Pastrnak and the Bruins to come out flying against the Lightning. The big storyline for Boston will be, you guessed it, between the pipes as Tuukka Rask announced last round he’s left the bubble to tend to a family emergency. For the Lightning, the spotlight is Brayden Point’s to lose. After posting ten points in eight games, including multiple game winners, Point led the Lightning offence, just ahead of Nikita Kucherov’s nine points in as many games. Guarding the net, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been dialled in all postseason, with a stellar 0.927 SV% to his name. Of all the second round matchups, this one is going to be the most exciting for me.
Vancouver Canucks @ Vegas Golden Knights, 10:30pm EST
In the Edmonton bubble, the young Canucks have a quick turnaround against Vegas after bouncing the defending Stanley Cup Champions on Friday night. Led by Swedish sensation Elias Pettersson and Calder Trophy (lock?) candidate Quinn Hughes, the Canucks had one of the more exciting round one series, where every game appeared to have at least one highlight reel goal coming out of Vancouver. At the other end of the rink, newly minted official starter Robin Lehner will look to continue building on is 5-1 record in net. With friend of the blog (probably) Mark Stone firing on all cylinders (8GP: 4G, 4A) and Shea Theodore creating serious offense on the back end (8GP: 4G, 3A), the Canucks are going to have their hands full this series.