NHL fans waited over 140 days for their favorite sport to return to action, and when it finally did it was glorious. Meaningful action started at noon eastern on Saturday with the Carolina Hurricanes facing off against the New York Rangers. Within the first couple minutes of the game the mitts had been dropped between the teams and players were chucking nucks at each other. The intensity never wavered. Not in Hurricanes vs Rangers and not in any other game.
Rangers vs Hurricanes
Rangers vs Hurricanes was a battle till the very end. Canes take the first game of the series with a 3-2 victory. The King of New York player well in net for the Rangers but the offense of the Rangers just wasn’t enough. Game two starts today, Monday the 3rd at noon Eastern.
LOOK AT HOW PRETTY THIS IS pic.twitter.com/EV8ac9F7Sk — Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) August 1, 2020
Blackhawks vs Oilers
Second game on Saturday saw the Blackhawks facing the Oilers. The game ended in 6-4 victory for the Blackhawks but the game wasn’t nearly that close. Mike Smith was atrocious for the Oilers looking very similar to the Mike Smith that played for the first seed Flames last year and lost the series 4-1 to the Avalanche.
Does Mike Smith get an assist here pic.twitter.com/Z3g6ggr5oq — Frosty Talks (@Frosty_Talks) August 1, 2020
Oilers took a one goal lead early and completely blew it after. The Blackhawks were leading 4-1 at the end of the first period and Mike Smith was pulled from net for Mikko Koskinen in the second after allowing a fifth goal to get past him. Connor McDavid, the Jesus of hockey, can only do so much to get the Oilers a win, he got the teams first goal and had two assists but it wasn’t enough to overcome the poor goaltending. Dominik Kubalik was rightfully named the first star after a historic playoff outing for a rookie.
Dominik Kubalik became the first rookie in @NHL history to collect three points in the opening period of his postseason debut! Here are all five of his points from today's game. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/IopejHXhQK — Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) August 1, 2020
Blackhawks vs Oilers game two is tonight at 10:30pm eastern.
Islanders vs Panthers
Next puck drop of the weekend was the Islander facing off against the Panthers. Pretty standard game for the Islanders. They played the same brand of defensive hockey that won them a playoff series last year and it worked against a Panthers team that looked weak compared to the Islanders. Not a ton of shots on net for either team. Bunch of blocked shots. Minimum penalties, a clean simple hockey game from both sides.
FIVE-HOLE! ? pic.twitter.com/Xsc5u8UlnL — New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 1, 2020
Islanders take the victory over the Panthers 2-1. Islanders vs Panthers game two starts Tuesday at noon eastern.
Canadiens vs Penguins
Canadiens vs Penguins. The question the hockey world had been asking since the playoff schedules had been released has been answered. “Can Carey Price carry the Canadiens to a playoff victory?” Well the Price is right, the goalie for Canadiens can play well enough to keep his team in a game. Price was named the second star of the game after he stopped 39-41 shots during regulation and over time to help lift the Canadiens to a 3-2 OT game one victory over the Penguins. The question going in to the rest of the series is whether or not Carey Price can keep up that kind of save percentage.
MERCI JEFF PETRY#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/MOnZ6ZhhP3 — Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) August 2, 2020
Game two of Canadiens vs Penguins starts tonight at 8pm eastern.
Jets vs Flames
The final game of Saturday was riddled with controversy. The Mathew Tkachuck friendship tour rolled along without a hitch as he was involved in a play that injured Mark Scheifele. Scheifele took one of Tkachuck’s skates to the back of the ankle and was out for the rest of the game. In a classic game of he said she said the Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice believes it was intentional while the Flames coach believes it was an accident. Long videos for both but the injury is the first thing both coaches address
? Paul Maurice on Mark Scheifele’s injury, the team’s play against Calgary in game one, and more following tonight’s game. pic.twitter.com/UC7WDJLPNI — Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) August 2, 2020
"Everything resets at zero again and now we have to get ourselves ready to play a really good hockey team in Game 2." Geoff Ward on the mindset headed into tomorrow's game and more takeaways from last night's win. pic.twitter.com/w3PN6mgaXG — Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) August 2, 2020
The only person that can tell you for certain if it was intentional or not is Mathew Tkachuck. When you slow the game down to a tenth of the speed it gets easier to over analyze a play and call it illegal or dirty. Yet the players can’t slow their own actions down to that speed on the ice or in their heads. So to me it’s unfair to judge a player based on tape that’s slowed down to a frame by frame speed.
Losing a stud player like Scheifele for the Jets will affect how you play. No doubt about it, but the Flames out played the Jets in game one. The Jets ended up playing a good chunk of the game without Scheifele and Patrick Laine. The Jets injury whoas of the season somehow continue after the break. Flames take game one over the Jets 4-1 and lead the series 1-0. Game two starts today at 2:30 pm eastern.
Coyotes vs Predators
What a poop dollar goal pic.twitter.com/uP0rP36dbi — DR (@DylanRyanFT) August 2, 2020
The second I saw this goal go in I should have guessed the Coyotes were going to win this game. Sometimes it’s just better to be lucky than good. Coyotes were up 3-1 at the end of the first period and kept the lead for the next forty minutes. Coyotes got a couple lucky plays that they took advantage of but they ended up playing the more complete game winning 4-3 and taking the first game of the series.
Flyers vs Bruins
The first round robin game of the weekend, Flyers vs Bruins. These games are played to determine seeding for the top four teams in each conference for the next round. No elimination possible for either of these teams. The Bruins walked into this game short handed as their best goaltender Tukka Rask was unavailable to play. The Flyers ended up playing a more complete game and won 4-1. The Flyers will play the Capitals on Thursday while the Bruins will play the Lightning on Wednesday. The round robin games have been intense and fun to watch, but without threat of elimination the stakes just aren’t as high. Being first overall seed would be helpful, bbuuuutttt, you know you’ve got at least one more round of playoff hockey to watch if your favorite team is in the round robin.
Blues vs Avalanche
What. A. Finish. I don’t think I’ve seen a better buzzer beater in sports. The game is tied 1-1 in the last minute of the third period. The Avalanche are on the power play. Time winds down to the most improbable amount of time left to score. Less than 3 seconds left shot bounces off the cross bar. Time ticks away. Kadri is right in front of the net. 0.1 seconds left. Then a miraculous play from Nazem Kadri.
A buzzer beater victory for the @Avalanche #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/5Ig8H1WM5B — Frosty Talks (@Frosty_Talks) August 3, 2020
After review of the play the goal stands. The latest game winning goal in Stanley Cup Playoff history. It physically can’t get any later than that. Nazem Kadri was pretty well liked in Colorado before this, but he’s become a hero for the team and it’s fans in one of the most memorable fashions ever. Avalanche beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions 2-1. Blue go on to play the Knights on Thursday while the Avalanche play the Stars on Wednesday.
Blue Jackets vs Maple Leafs
Playoff hockey is so back. The Maple Leafs were bullied all night by a much more physical team. A tale as old as time. Blue Jackets take the first game of the series after beating and bruising the Leafs. The 2-0 victory can be largely attributed to the goaltending and defense of the Blue Jackets.
? Korpi had a TON of big stops tonight, but we all know which one deserves the title of "Save of the Game."#CBJ | #CBJAsOne pic.twitter.com/2yt3m7ptAI — x-Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) August 3, 2020
Mathews was absolutely robbed here. When the goaltending is that good the only way to get goals is to play with some grit. Something the Leafs are notorious for not doing come playoff time. The best highlight the Leafs produced came after the game when Auston Mathews was taking questions from virtual reporters and got a question from scumbag Steve Simmons.
.@AM34 putting Steve Simmons in his place Fuck Steve Simmons #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/3KB2nkecnU — David Nestico (@davidnestico200) August 3, 2020
Fuck Steve Simmons for leaking confidential medical history.
Blue Jackets lead the series 1-0 over the Maple Leafs. Game two of the series is at 4pm eastern on Tuesday
Canucks vs Wild
That looked like a completely different Minnesota Wild team than the regular season. They played physical, fore checked well, bodied guys off the puck, pretty much the opposite of what the regular season looked like for the Wild. Minnesota played the much better game compared to the Canucks. Vancouver played the entire game sloppy and it resulted in a 3-0 loss. The game felt like it dragged on forever for some reason. Maybe it was the last game of a twenty four hour eleven game hockey binge and the brain was mush but the game felt slow the entire time. Intense game that produced a fight right off the jump.
Dropping the mitts real early in this one pic.twitter.com/mPOSzlE9YA — Frosty Talks (@Frosty_Talks) August 3, 2020
While the pace of play seemed slow the intensity was there all game. Until the lights went out for a second.
The lights just went out in the middle of play…. 2020. ?#StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/oEmLjlz1y3 — #StanleyCup Qualifiers on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) August 3, 2020
Wild dominated the Canucks and lead the series 1-0. Game two will be on Tuesday at 10:45 pm Eastern.