The quest for the 2021 Stanley Cup continues to roll along, with the first two teams being eliminated yesterday. The Edmonton Oilers weren’t among that group, but their fans probably wish they were, just so they can be put out of their misery.
I’ll be honest with you all. Not only did I not think Nashville had any business competing with Carolina in this series, I thought their Cup window had slammed shut. Remember though, a hot goalie is all you need to pull off an upset, and the Predators, led by Juuse Saros, are halfway there. By the end of the game, Saros had faced 61 shots, stopping 58 of them. On the offensive side of things, Luke Kunin scored two goals, including the overtime winner, with Ryan Johansen and Nick Cousins chipping in as well. The Canes’ offense came courtesy of Vincent Trocheck and Brock McGinn, who also had a two-goal night, notably 1:08 apart. Nashville is now in a position to potentially win this series, but they’ll need to outlast a high-octane Hurricanes’ team that’s notorious for generating tons of offensive pressure.
KUNIN— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) May 23, 2021
Predators win in double-OT for the second straight game and the series is tied at 2-2 pic.twitter.com/wvUfR5UIz1
Those who were bold enough to predict an Avs sweep were smart to do so, as there were very few moments in this series in which the Blues had any hope at all. Despite Vladimir Tarasenko doing his best to keep St. Louis afloat by opening the scoring, goals from Brandon Saad, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, Nathan Mackinnon, and Valeri Nichushkin capped off a dominant string of games from the Avalanche, who have plenty of time to rest for what should be a tougher matchup against either the Vegas Golden Knights or (if they blow their 3-1 series lead as they did against the Sharks two years ago) the Minnesota Wild.
Is this the end of the Capitals’ window of contention? Maybe so. Two goals from Patrice Bergeron and a 40-save effort were enough to close out the series and send the Boston Bruins to the second round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. David Pastrnak also scored for the Bruins, signifying a strong performance from the blandly named “Perfection Line”, while Conor Sheary had the lone tally for Washington. Boston now awaits the winner of the tight Penguins-Islanders series, which could very well go down to the wire.
Yes, they outshot the Jets 48-37. Yes, Connor Hellybuyck is a phenomenal goalie capable of stealing a playoff game from the toughest of opponents. But let’s be real; the Oilers are their own worst enemy, and they’ve been such for over a decade. They may be a near-unstoppable hockey team when Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl take to the ice, but at all other times, can you even call them a hockey team at all? The two juggernauts take up tons of available cap room, but so do depth pieces like James Neal, Zack Kassian, and Kris Russell. All due respect, but similar players are out there at a quarter of the cost. As a result of their reckless spending and lousy depth, they frequently open themselves up to falling to what we saw tonight; a gutsy performance by the Jets featuring spectacular goaltending, clutch goal-scoring, superior special teams, and heroics from one of the team’s top players in Nikolaj Ehlers.
Game 5: New York Islanders @ Pittsburgh Penguins - 7:00 PM EST (Series tied 2-2)
Game 3: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Montreal Canadiens - 7:00 PM EST (Series tied 1-1)
Game 5: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Florida Panthers - 8:00 PM EST (TBL leads 3-1)
Game 4: Edmonton Oilers @ Winnipeg Jets - 9:45 PM EST (WPG leads 3-0)
Game 5: Minnesota Wild @ Vegas Golden Knights - 10:30 PM EST (VGK leads 3-1)