The New Jersey Devils have won the NHL Draft lottery landing them the #1 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. The Devils had an 8.5% chance of winning the lottery and that's apparently all they needed. The NHL lottery is super confusing just like everything else the NHL does, so I'm not exactly too sure how this works, I'm just assuming it's like the NBA lottery. Anyways, I hate it, just give the team with the worst record the first overall pick and do it by record, not chance. If anything the Las Vegas Knights should've been guaranteed the #1 overall pick since they're an expansion team and will certainly need it. Regardless, the Devils, who were not an awful team this year, basically just ensured another superstar will be joining their team. As for the rest of the lottery order, here it is:
1. New Jersey Devils (70 points)
2. Philadelphia Flyers (88 points)
3. Dallas Stars (79 points)
4. Colorado Avalanche (48 points)
5. Vancouver Canucks (69 points)
6. Las Vegas Knights (N/A)
7. Phoenix Coyotes (70 points)
8. Buffalo Sabres (78 points)
9. Florida Panthers (81 points)
10. Los Angeles Kings (86 points)
12. Carolina Hurricanes (87 points)
13. Winnipeg Jets (87 points)
14. Tampa Bay Lightning (94 points)
15. New York Islanders (94 points)
Flyers were the big winners of the lottery, somehow they shot up all the way to the #2 overall pick, despite having a really good season racking up 88 points. I'm not saying it's fixed, but it's fixed. Of course they don't fix it for the Islanders or the Lightning to move up since their franchises seem to not be doing all that great in the business aspect of things. Flyers on the other hand, they'd be great to have competing in the playoffs, so lets just give em a lil boost. Bullshit, NHL pulling some phony shit expecting no one to notice. Same shit with the Dallas Stars, they got put above teams that deserved the #3 overall pick way more than they did, but Dallas is a bigger market, so they get the pick. That's my thoughts on the lottery, only one reason the NHL does this, so they can control which young players go where. Kinda like the NBA.
After game 3, I'd say just about every and anybody who watched the first three games of this series wrote the Rangers off after game three. Canadiens looked bigger, faster, stronger, and the Rangers just looked outmatched. Game 4 rolled around the Rangers gave their home crowd a gutsy performance and they pulled out a tight win against Montreal to tie up the series. At this point it still seemed like the Canadiens were the better team since they had dominated the Rangers for the majority of the series despite it being tied. Game 5 was when that all changed. The game was neck and neck going into overtime. The overtime period would not be neck and neck though, it'd be the Rangers controlling the game for 14 minutes before winning. The Rangers now had a 3-2 lead in the series coming home for game 6 at the Garden with a chance to advance to the conference semi-finals.
Game 6 at the Garden was rocking last night, those fans were begging for something to cheer about, and the Rangers would deliver. The Canadiens took a 1-0 lead early, it was hard not to immediately think "here we go again", although it was so early into a long game. The first period came and went, the Canadiens held on to their 1-0 lead ad the Rangers struggled to find any sort of offense. That would change in the second period when the Rangers were on the power play. Mats Zuccarello, received the puck not even 10 feet from the net and he sneaks it past Carey Price for a goal that is usually stuffed by a goalie of Price's caliber. The first goal the Rangers had scored on a power play in 15 tries in this series. The game was now tied at one goal at piece and momentum was rolling with the Rangers. About ten minutes later the Rangers were having great puck movement in the Canadiens zone, Kevin Hayes, who had an outstanding game, dished the puck from behind the net to J.T. Miller who then passed the puck across the front of the net to Mats Zuccarello, who buried the puck in the back of the net for his second goal of the night. Rangers take the lead 2-1 and need to last 20 minutes to advance to the next round.
Rangers had a few scares in the third period in terms of blowing the lead. When you have Henrik Lundqvist in net it certainly gives you a bit more confidence. This guy made big save after big save last night, on several occasions the Canadiens were right in front of the net putting point blank shots on King Lundqvist and he was denying all of them. The Candiens had a power play in the third after a Kreider high stick and they were getting great looks, the Rangers held strong however, and the were able to survive it without blowing the lead. Price was pulled with about 90 seconds left in the game, Rangers continue to look sharp defensively, Lundqvist continue to be a brick wall in goal, and with 20 seconds left Derek Stepan put the nail in the coffin for the Canadiens when he scored from beyond half court on the open net. Rangers won 3-1 and will advance to conference semi-finals to play the winner of the Boston Bruins-Ottawa Senators series.
The Buffalo Sabres are wiping the slate clean yet again. Since Terry Pegula bought the team in 2011 they haven't had a winning season. I'm not counting 2011 because he bought them late in that season. After years of being horrible, acquiring high draft picks, and rebuilding for the future, they were ready to take that next step the past two years. They got better for sure, but it never materialized. After an improved 2015-16 season, the Sabres were expected to makes some noise this year with additions of young talent and free agent signings. Instead, they were just mediocre once again. The nail in coffin for Dan Bylsma and Tim Murray was failing to go above .500 in the past two seasons. Bylsma was once a Stanley Cup Champion coach, now it's starting to look more and more like he lucked into that position, inheriting a great Penguins team. Watching ownership burn it all down as a fan is never easy, although there's a lot to look forward to with this franchise.
The Sabres are stocked with young talent. Jack Eichel is 20 years old and is already proving to be a top notch center in the NHL. The Sabres are loaded with young talent at the center position creating so much depth and balance through their lines. Ryan O'Reilly, 25, and Sam Reinhart, 21, are the other young stud centers that give this franchise hope for the future. Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe are going to make a very solid defensive line for years to come for the Sabres, just gotta give them some time. Kyle Okposo is a veteran wing that's going to rack up a nice amount of points for your team, he's a former Islander so I can attest to that. Robin Lenher is a solid young goaltender, he isn't anything special, however he's above average in a league where it's hard to find consistently good goaltending.
Sabres are a very capable team, under the right coaching and management they should easily be able to return the glory days of the organization. I'm talking the French connection joined with Danny Gare. They have plenty of young talent, I'm not sure if they'll really be able to make a splash in free agency, although they'll have another good pick in the NHL draft this year. The only perk of losing is that you get to acquire young talent if you scout properly. Don't worry Sabre fans you've never experienced winning a Stanley Cup, so it's like you don't even know what you're missing out on. I will say this, the Sabres certainly seem to have the young talent to start laying the foundation of a championship team. Just find the right coach to bring it all together.
Last night, one of the most insane playoff hockey series I've ever witnessed, got a whole lot insaner. The Capitals had split the first two games at home with the Maple Leafs, not exactly ideal going into the next two games on the road. This made game 3 even more important for the Capitals to win and the urgency was visible early. The Capitals got off to an early 1-0 lead when they got out onto a fastbreak and Nate Schmidt dished a back handed pass to Nicklas Backstrom for the goal right in front of the net. That was about 3 minutes into the game and it looked like Capitals were finally going to take command of this series. This theory was backed up when T.J. Oshie passed to Ovechkin who slapped a one timer into the back of the net like a sniper from distance for a 2-0 lead. Capitals looked dominant, but the Maple Leafs never looked nervous.
The young, inexperienced Maple Leafs were playing physical, putting Caps bodies on the floor left and right, fighting for the puck with even more effort, and it was beginning to pay off. Auston Matthews got the puck right around mid-ice, proceeded to cut up the entire Capitals defense by himself, got his shot stoned, but would get the rebound and finish. 2-1 as the Maple Leafs strike back cutting the daunting 2-0 lead in half before the end of the first period.
Second period the Capitals jumped right back on the offensive. Marcus Johansson took a shot that was stuffed by Frederick Andersen, but on the rebound Evgeny Kuznetsov put it in the back of the net. Capitals led 3-1 with 14 minutes left in the period. From that point on the game was mostly Maple Leafs. I don't know what happened, it seems like the Capitals just let off the gas, and it cost them big time.
Maple Leafs had a break away off a T.J. Oshie miss, it was Mitch Minor on the break away, somehow, someway, Holtby comes flying out of net takes a desperation dive at the puck gets a piece of it and stops the Maple Leafs from an easy goal. Seemed like it was the Caps night, maybe even the Caps year. That was until Nazem Kadri blasted a shot from the blue line that was deflected in by Conor Brown for the goal. 3-2 Capitals still led, but the Maple Leafs were now within striking distance. A few minutes later, there's a battle for the puck behind the Capitals goal, Auston Matthews gets it out, he kicks it to William Nylander, his shot is blocked, however he gets his own rebound burying the second chance in the back of the net. The score is all tied up with 40 seconds to go in the second period. What an exhilarating 40 minutes of playoff hockey with 20 minutes still left to be played.
3rd period wasn't great, not in comparison to the first two. Just great save after great save by both the goalies keeping their teams chances alive. No one would end up scoring and this one would be decided in OT.
OT wasn't even 2 minutes long. Maple Leafs on one of their first possesions of the OT period setup their offense passed around the puck a little, Reiley had the puck up top near the blue line, he passed to Kadri, Kadri passed to Bozak, and Tyler Bozak tipped the puck into the goal for the win. This was on a powerplay due to a high stick at the end of regulation. Penalties will cost ya and they certainly did last night for the Capitals.
Maple Leafs take their first lead in a playoff series since 2004, yeah no wonder the Toronto fans are extra fucking insane, they've been deprived for so long, they need this. I love the Toronto fans, so fucking loud, they pack in and outside the building, just true die-heart fans who are craving for more playoff hockey, and are willing to sacrifice themselves for a Stanley Cup trophy. That's what I call true fandom. As for the Capitals, it looks like it's not their year. Every damn year this happens, the Caps destroy the regular season leaving you with no doubt this is their year, how could it not be they are men amongst boys out there, and then playoff hockey just turns everything around, it's an anomaly, and no one knows how or why, it's just accepted. I feel bad for the Capitals goaltender Holtby, literally played out of his god damn mind, every goal scored on him was deflection or rebound, maybe if the Capitals defenders didn't have their heads up their asses they would've won this game. Oh well, I'm happy with the result, go Leafs go.
Taking a puck to the face doesn't sound like the ideal situation for anyone, but for 19-year old Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski, it was just a minor bump in the road during last night's playoff game against the Penguins.
The Blue Jackets rookie had himself quite the roller-coaster night, as he was able to record his first career playoff goal in the first period of Game 3 loss last night, but his wild night didn't end there. In the second period of last night's game, the rookie defenseman took a puck directly to the face, and immediately had to exit the game, as he leaked blood all over the ice - but his night was not over. To the surprise of, well probably no one because Hockey players don't abide by the laws of pain or injury, Werenski returned to the ice in the third period, with he eye sown up and swollen. He would play through the third, but unfortunately the swelling became too much for him in OT, and he was unable to continue, as he was virtually blind in his right eye.
The Blue Jackets announced this morning that Zach Werenski would miss the remainder of the season with the injury, and with his team down 3-0 to the Penguins, that may only be one more game. But you've gotta tip your hat to this young savage, for not only getting himself his first career game, but by showing the world once again that there is "tough", and then there is "Hockey Tough".
Last night the final playoff spot left was secured by the Toronto Maple Leafs, following their 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Maple Leafs were god awful last season, they won 29 games, and managed to only accumulate 69 points. This left them with the #1 overall pick in the NHL draft, where they selected Auston Matthews, who turned this entire franchise around in the blink of an eye.
Matthews doesn't deserve all the credit though, the Maple Leafs front office has done a great job of turning this team around. They added Frederick Andersen, the stud goalie from Anaheim that brought them deep into the last couple Stanley Cup playoffs with his ridiculous play in net. He's been nice security blanket for them in goal this season, which has probably made the second biggest impact besides for Matthews on this team. The Maple Leafs also got healthy, James van Riemsdyk played a full season this year having one of, if not his best season yet. He's been Auston Matthews right hand man all season making Matthews job a whole lot easier. Connor Brown also got to play in his first full year and he certainly took advantage. He's no superstar, but without him this team certainly is not where they are because he provided a lot of points this season. Morgan Rielly has consistently been a solid defenseman for Toronto the last few years, but when Nikita Zaitsev broke onto the scene, really securing that defense up, is when the Maple Leafs were able to take that next step defensively. These key additions made all the difference in the Maple Leafs going from worst in the league to a playoff team.
Boston Bruins Clinch Playoff Berth; Toronto Maple Leafs Slide Down Into Wildcard Spot; New York Islanders Barely Clinging to LifeRead Now
The Boston Bruins entered yesterday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning a couple points from a playoff berth. Two weeks prior they weren't even in the playoff picture, so they've managed to play some great hockey in the recent weeks. Boston had reeled off 5 games in a row and set themselves up with a hefty lead in the wildcard race with just a few games left to play. Last night, they wanted to take care of business and clinch their playoff spot, not leaving anything up to chance. That urgency was clearly visible in their play consistently throughout the night. Boston dominated faceoffs and dominated the puck, those two things tend to go hand and hand in most cases, which is a formula for success. Tuukka Rask, goaltender for the Bruins, had a phenomenal night in net, and a lot of that can be attributed to the Boston defenders. Boston went on to slaughter the Lightning, possibly ending any and all playoff aspirations for them, all the while locking up a playoff spot of their own. Not only did Boston clinch a playoff spot, but it's now looking like they might be able to get the 2 or 3 spot in their division. Right now Boston might be the hottest team going into the postseason as their winning streak is now at six games, so playing them in the first round is something I'd want to avoid. Impressive run by the Bruins to lock up a playoff spot, now let's see if they can carry this hot streak into the playoffs.
Toronto suffered a rough loss to the Capitals last night. It's tough when you're trying to make a playoff run just to get absolutely decimated by the best team in the league. Well, the news doesn't get any better for Toronto because last night after the loss they got the boot from the top 3 division spots and now fall into the wildcard race. They have a 5 point lead over the Islanders and Lightning with 3 games left to go for each team. All Toronto needs to do is win one of their final 3 and they're in, or the Islanders and Lightning just need to lose one game. This might be easier said then done, though. Maple Leafs play the Lightning Friday, if they win that game it's over they're in, and the playoffs are set. However, if the lightning win things could get very interesting, especially since the final two games for Toronto are against the Penguins and the Blue Jackets, two of the best teams in the conference. Thursday's game against the Lightning is the big one in terms of playoff implications. If the Toronto losses Thursday I don't see them reaching the playoffs, and that would be a monumental collapse.
Once the Bruins won last night I thought our magical season was all over. This and the fact that we were down by one early to the Predators left me mentally defeated. Little did I know that Toronto was collapsing opening up the possibility of the Islanders still being mathematically in the playoff hunt. Well, I went to bed and the Islanders continued to fight for their season. Quick thank you to Thomas Hickey for scoring an overtime goal that kept the Islanders alive. Are chances still remain slim, damn near impossible, but this squad is special, and I believe if the Maple Leafs lose their final three games, which is very possible with the competition they're up against, that the Islanders will be the team to sneak in. The final three games of the season are against the Hurricanes(Very winnable game), the Devils(In the bag already), and the Senators(Tough). If we can get to the Senators with a shot of making the playoffs if we win, we'll win with ease just out of the pure adrenaline the Islanders players will be playing with. I believe in miracles, the chances of the Isles sneaking in couldn't be much smaller, nonetheless I still believe. Go Isles Go.
Let me start off by saying what a year it's been for the Islanders. This team got off to a God awful start after a really nice playoff run the year prior. Granted the Isles lost some pieces, but still with Tavares, Bailey, Lee, and Leddy they were expected to remain relatively competitive. Greiss put together a very nice stretch at the end of last year that left Islander fans optimistic about the upcoming season. Unfortunately, nothing went to plan and the Islanders were awful, rumors of the franchise moving were floating around, and then the head coach Jack Capuano was fired. I actually thought he did a solid job and he was unjustly fired, however when the team did a complete 180 after that and started racking up points it was hard to say it wasn't the right move. Islanders found themselves in the second wildcard spot with 9 games left to play, and one of the all time midseason turnarounds was about to be complete. Everything was going so smoothly... until Boston came to town.
The Islanders lost that game to Boston in heartbreaking fashion and lost the wildcard spot along with it. The Bruins now controlled their own destiny and they've taken full advantage of the situation. They haven't lost since building their lead over the Islanders to 6 points. The only way I can see the Isles sneaking in is by an act of God.
The Islanders have 4 games left to play and the bruins have 3. All the Bruins games are totally losable and all the Islanders remaining games are winnable, the toughest one being tonight against the Predators. Bruins need to lose the remaining games they have left in order for the Islanders to even have a chance of getting in. The Islanders would then have to win at least 3 of 4 and lose in OT the 1 game they didn't win. They'd also need to hope that the Lighting don't wind up with more than 93 points, which isn't going to be hard for them since they're at 88 with 4 games to play.
Yeah, so the Islanders chances are super slim, a nearly impossible feat. I'm a believer though, especially when it comes to hockey, I'm a believer. The wildest shit I've seen in sports is always hockey or baseball, so if a miracle is bound to happen why can't it be the Islanders somehow pulling a playoff berth out of their ass. Boston losing and the Isles winning tonight is the first step towards glory.
After months of back and forth speculation, the NHL announced today that it will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This decision has been one that the NHL has battled with for a while, as players, coaches, and owners have all been outspoken, and have had differing opinions throughout. This will end the NHL's run of five straight Winter Olympics with NHL players.
The Winter Olympics forces the NHL to postpone and disrupt their season, by either trying to postpone games, or by having teams play without certain players, but either way it has been somewhat of a debacle. The NHL had said for a few months that they were open to dialogue and discussion around the matter, from both sides, but they now feel that after these months of dialogue have not amounted to anything meaningful.
The Commissioner, Gary Bettman, has stressed over the last few months that the owners were almost unanimously against being a part of the Winter Olympics, for several reasons, but the most major one being the proposed 17-day break in the season schedule in February of 2018. That time period also happens to be a peak time for the NHL, when the NFL has just finished up, and the MLB has still not started.
The NHL conducted polls in the U.S. and Canada among the fans, where 73% of Americans were against the 17-day season break, and 53% of Canadians were against.
One of the biggest supporters of the NHL participating, was the Washington Capital's superstar Alexander Ovechkin, who stated several times over the past few months that he will play in the Olympics - whether the rest of the NHL is or not. We will have to wait and see what comes of this, because I don't know the legalities around this, if Ovechkin will be fined or what, but this is definitely something to watch.
This is big news in the hockey world, and for the Winter Olympics in general, and while the NHL has participated in all of the winter games since 1998, this may become the precedent for the league.