When the play-in format was announced, most everyone agreed that best-of-three series presented the potential for some real upsets; hockey is, after all, the most random, chaotic of the major North American sports. But if you’d told me that the two number twelve seeds, Chicago and the Montreal Canadiens, would be up 2-1 on the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins I’m not sure I’d have believed. You wanted chaos? We’re awfully close to getting it.
- Well, well, well. I basically wrote the Panthers off after game 2, but they turned in a strong performance in game 3 and have given themselves a chance. Mike Hoffman struck again on the power play, and Sergei Bobrovsky was just good enough this time as he stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced.
Arizona Coyoes 4, Nashville Predators 1, ARZ leads series 2-1
- This wouldn’t be quite as big an upset as Montreal or Chicago sealing their series, but the Coyotes were still considerable underdogs at the outset of their series with Nashville and are now just one win away from moving on. The Preds’ expensive forward group, besides Viktor Arvidsson, is having an awfully hard time generating much offense.
- All of the B’s hard work during the regular season might very well for naught as they are now 0-2 in the round robin re-start and could be staring down a very tough first round opponent. Meanwhile, the Lightning could be looking at facing the Habs (!) in the next round.
- The Avs looked awfully good, while the Stars have now lost nine (!) straight games going back to before times. Maybe none of this matters once the elimination games begin for these teams but one can’t help but wonder a bit about Dallas’ ceiling in light of their early struggles.
Montreal Canadiens 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 3, MTL leads series 2-1
- Sidney Crosby is 33 this year, and this Penguins group is getting older all the time. Are they going to squander what could be one of their last legitimate chances by losing to a team that was barely over .500 in the regular season?
Chicago 4, Edmonton Oilers 3, CHI leads series 2-1
- Meanwhile in Edmonton, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have scored or assisted on 10 of the Oilers’ 13 goals in three games. Somehow, they trail the series 2-1. Jonathan Toews has turned back the clock for Chicago and the supporting cast for the team from the Windy City has been much better than Edmonton’s. Does the Oilers’ season end Friday night?
- The Wild have yet to score a goal at 5v5, and that’ll have to change if they want to win two of the next three against a Vancouver team who looked much improved in game two after a rocky opener.
- The Caps lost in extra time to the Bolts in their opener and the Flyers cruised vs. the B’s. Washington will need a win to give themselves a chance at the first seed so watch for the Caps to come out with some extra motivation.
- Vegas looked good in their win over the Stars, and St. Louis was full credit for hanging with Colorado through 59:59 of regulation before getting their heart broken by Nazem Kadri. This might be the best game of the day.
- Toronto averted a major crisis with a dominating performance in game 2, but they lost Jake Muzzin in the process and it’s hard to be optimistic about what’s left of an already thin defense corps. Columbus looked badly outmatched when the two teams played on Tuesday but all they need to do is secure two more wins to move on and with a strong defensive focus anything is possible in small enough samples.
- The only potential elimination game of the night. The Jets have not ruled Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine out for tonight’s game as of this writing, and it’s hard to imagine an already thing Jets team getting back into this without two of their top forwards. Will this be a cakewalk into the next round for Calgary? Or do Scheifele and co. have a hero turn in them yet?