If I knew the Nashville Predators defense wasn’t going to bother moving into the bubble I wouldn’t have picked them over the Arizona Coyotes in my Western Conference preview. The Preds defense was extremely disjointed especially in the first period and hung Juuse Saros out to dry in his first-ever Playoffs appearance. A goal credited to Filip Forsberg two seconds from the end of the first gave them hope but despite a late push in the third, the Coyotes held on for a 4-3 win in game one. There was nothing Saros could do about the three goals which came in an eight-minute span as the first deflected off Matt Duchene while his defense failed to close off lanes for the second and third. Unfortunately for Saros when you let in four goals during any games calls will come to replace you and with a veteran like Pekka Rinne playing backup that may be the easy option for Nashville in game two.
A lot has been made, including by myself, about how the Boston Bruins might have the best goaltending tandem in the league. With Tuukka Rask given the dreaded unfit to play treatment, it was time for Jaroslav Halak to stake a claim for the rest of the playoffs in game one of the Round Robin against the Philadelphia Flyers. He didn’t. The Flyers, who are slowly becoming the team to watch in the Eastern Conference, put four past him as they strolled to a comfortable 4-1 win. Sure the games mean less in the round-robin as all four teams will ultimately qualify for the next round, however winning the number one slot would give that team ‘home ice’ advantage throughout the playoffs which will mean last change, something that a lot of head coaches desperately want.
It’s not often you will go 16 shots to 4 in a period and find yourself down a goal at the end of it but that’s what happened for the Colorado Avalanche against the St Louis Blues in the first period. Binnington kept his shutout until the third when Ryan Graves fanned on a pass only to find the puck still on his stick and fired a rocket past him to tie the game up with 14:27 remaining. What happened after I can not explain. It’s still all a blur and maybe when I settle down and fix the light I broke jumping in the air I might be able to explain it. All you really need to know right now is that Nazem Kadri descended from heaven (thank you Toronto btw) and with 0.01 seconds remaining fired home a rebound to give the Avalanche two points in the round-robin standings and leave St Louis with zero.
With :0.1 left, #GoAvsGo Nazem Kadri scores the latest game-winning goal in regulation of a playoff game in history— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) August 3, 2020
Previous Record: Hurricanes Jussi Jokinen (:0.2) on April 21, 2009 vs Devils
With the regular season form of Joonas Korpisalo and Frederik Andersen, it was no surprise that the Toronto Maple Leafs v the Columbus Blue Jackets game was a battle of the goaltender, which Korpisalo won. The Finnish shot-stopper who was playing in his first-ever NHL postseason game came up big when needed and Cam Atkinson gave him a lead to defend early in the third. Korpisalo did just that to become the first goaltender of this offseason to have a shutout. Alexander Wennberg scored an empty-net goal with 19 seconds remaining to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead in the series. The biggest fireworks came after the game when Toronto Sun reporter Steve Simmons asked Auston Matthews a question. Simmons was the reporter who broke the news earlier in the summer that Matthews had Coronavirus at a time when the NHL weren’t releasing names of players who returned a positive test. Matthews called his reporting “unethical” and said he “didn’t appreciate” it, before answering the question asked in a professional manner.
I need to remember that this is 2020 and nothing makes sense, because if you’d told me a team scored two Power Play goals and asked me to pick between the Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Wild I’d be leaning heavily towards the Canucks. They had the fourth-best during the regular season added to the fact the Minnesota Wild’s penalty kill was 25th out of 31 teams. The reality was it went the other way with the Wild getting a PPG in both the first two periods before adding an empty-net goal late in the third to shutout the Canucks and run out 3-0 winners.
As a side note, I hope nobody took my projections too seriously as I am currently two for six, but in fairness, if you picked Montreal over Pittsburgh you’re either a Canadiens fan or just plain lying.