First things first. The NHL has got to stop putting the Blackhawks vs Oilers games on at 10:30 pm Eastern. It’s the middle of the week, people have work in the morning and can’t or don’t want to watch hockey until 1am when they’ve got work at 8am the next day. Completely understandable, but way too many people are missing out on watching the most exciting player in hockey. It’s an absolute travesty and a ginormous waste of easy marketing to not have Connor McDavid everywhere. His face and highlights should be plastered everywhere like Lebron’s are by the NBA. Maybe the NHL didn’t expect the Blackhawks Oilers series to be this fun, maybe they expected a simple three game series sweep by the Oilers like most of us did. The exact opposite has happened. Blackhawks lead the series 2-1 and Oilers Blackhawks might be the most entertaining series of all. Followed closely by the Penguins Canadiens series, more on that later.
It is genuinely sad that the NHL isn’t marketing how much fun it is to watch Connor McDavid. This series Blackhawks vs Oilers series is not getting the marketing or the prime time airing that it should and I feel bad for all the fans that have missed seeing McJesus play. I mean just look at how good and fast he is.
Connor McDavid, are you SERIOUS? You try stopping him right now. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/BeujiMaKZ3 — #StanleyCup Qualifiers on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) August 4, 2020
McDavid has five goals in 3 games. In the Oilers one victory in the series he had a hat trick. Took him all of 19 SECONDS to score his first goal that game. It’s not fair that some East coast fans have to go to bed before watching him play.
Like I said the Oilers Blackhawks series might be the best of the qualifying round. Both teams have said “fuck it, who needs defense when you can score this much,” and they have filled the net at both ends. Last game ended in a 4-3 victory for the Blackhawks. Game before that was a 6-3 victory for the Oilers. Game one of the series was a 6-4 Blackhawks win. 26 goals scored over 3 games. A lot of people complain that hockey isn’t a high scoring affair and that’s why it’s not as much fun. Show those people this series and they would be hockey fans for life. This series is top tier entertainment. Right now the twelfth seed Blackhawks are in the drivers seat. They only need one more victory to knock out the fifth seeded Oilers.
The most entertaining series in the East has to be the Penguins vs Canadiens. In game one it was the Carey Price show. The series for the Canadiens was riding on Price’s shoulders and he has risen to the occasion beautifully. He’s saved 104 of 111 shots for a save percentage of .937 and a goals allowed average of 2.19. Many fans and analysts were scared that Carey Price could steal the series away from the Penguins. An idea that was almost laughed at has quickly become the real possibility as the Canadiens lead the series 2-1.
Canadiens won the first game 3-2 in overtime, an absolute thriller of a game. Game two went to the Penguins in an outcome that most fans expected for the entire series, winning game two 3-1. With the series tied the Penguins went down early 1-0. They went on to score three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately for the Sidney Crosby led Penguins the Canadiens saw how much fun it was to score three goals in a row and did it themselves. Canadiens win game three 4-3 and could send the Penguins home with one more win.
Much like the Oilers, the Penguins now face the reality that they could be eliminated from the Qualifying Round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by a team almost everyone said they can and should beat. Most years the clear favorite is eliminated from the playoffs and that’s that. They go home. The usual tropes are said, “anything can happen in the playoffs, they just didn’t play physically enough to win in the playoffs,” the list goes on. Then the players go play some golf over the summer while the GM and everyone else prepares for the draft. The GMs of the eliminated teams are still going to be preparing for the draft, but the big difference is one of the 8 teams eliminated from the Qualifying round will get the first pick.
Yeah that pesky first pick in the draft still needs to be awarded to someone. The Oilers and the Penguins are simultaneously staring at being sent home from the bubble and the possibility of picking first overall in this years draft. They’ll only get a 12.5% chance at the pick if they don’t pull off the series comeback and win out, but it is a possibility. I would imagine the fans of the Oilers and Penguins would much rather see their team continue on in the playoffs than see them get eliminated for a 12.5% chance at the first overall pick, but I could be wrong. If you thought the first three games of these series were fun just wait until game four, and if necessary game five.
Have the Penguins vs Canadiens on at 6pm Eastern and the Oilers vs Blackhawks on at 8pm Eastern. More people need to be watching Connor McDavid play hockey.