Hockey After Dark: Night 11, April 22nd by @DXTraeger - PensInitiative | Pittsburgh Penguins Blog | Rumors | News

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hockey After Dark: Night 11, April 22nd by @DXTraeger

"...Where Insomnia Hits the Ice."
(Welcome to "Hockey After Dark," a late-night recap of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Topics will include scores, injuries, controversies, the Twitter-verse, and random jokes at the expense of the Philadelphia Flyers)

---The St. Louis Blues defeat the Minnesota Wild, 4-3 (OT) (MIN wins the series, 4-1)---

There's insult, there's injury, and then there's salt.

It's one thing to lose because the likes of Vladamir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, and Paul Statsny scored on you.

It's, unfortunately, quite another thing when "Words with Friends" phenom "Magnus Paajarvi" scores at 9:42 in the first overtime to send your talented (albeit wounded) team home after a mere five games in the playoffs.

Now You Don't See Me....NOW YOU MOO!
Alas, such was the fate for the Minnesota Wild, a team whose failure shall live in equal infamy with the "Name 7 North American Professional Team Mascots Whose Name Does Not End in -S" queries of the universe.

Regardless, Magnus Paajarvi DID, in fact, score in overtime at the 9:42 mark of the first OT session and earn his St. Louis Blues an advancement to the second round of the NHL playoffs.

The loss was especially painful for the Minnesota Wild because they had tied the score from two goals down despite losing the services of Eric Staal to a scary head/injury and a controversial "no goal" call from the officiating crew when it was ruled that Nino Niederreiter initiated contact before he was struck from behind (and subsequently before the puck trickled into the net past Dubnyk).  Staal was released from the hospital around 12:15 AM EST.

Despite the adversity, the Wild persevered when Justin Zucker held & feigned a shot a split second longer than St. Louis netminder Jake Allen expected, allowing for the tying score.

Alas, Zucker's heroics only set up Paagjarvi for his game & series winner in the OT frame.  The win was vindication for a St. Louis team that has never won the Cup and wasn't expected to pose much of a threat to the Wild, another team that despite never having won the Cup was entering the post-season with both clout and elite players at forward and in goal.

St. Louis advancing is significant because the Blues have never won a Stanley Cup, a history the team hopes to reshape in the coming months.

---New York Rangers defeat the Montreal Canadiens (3-1) (NYR Wins Series 4-2)---

There are plenty of reasons to root against the New York Rangers:
     -the irrational media attention they receive regardless of talent
     -the model looks of Rangers' netminder Henrik Lundqvist
     -the shadow of John Tortorella still annoying the heck out of sports reporters
     -to that end, the annoying legacy of NYR reporter Larry Brooks

All that being said, the New York Rangers opened the 2016-17 NHL season as one of the league's top scoring clubs before eventually matriculating into a defense-first team that counted heavily on the play of Lundqvist (a function of Tortorella Schemes Gone Past) yet allowed talents such as Rick Nash and...Rick Nash to go out and try to produce offensively.

Are you confused? I'm confused
The end result was that the New York Rangers finished fourth in the Metropolitan Division.  Without context, the Rangers had underachieved and barely clawed their way into the post-season.  And while the Rangers DID claw their way into the post-season, they did so because the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, AND Columbus Blue Jackets flipped the script and posted 108 points or better en route to forcing the otherwise capable Rangers into a "miserable" 4th place finish against the Atlantic's #1 seed, the Montreal Canadiens.

Long story short (too late), the Rangers were more than equipped to down a Canadiens team that had fired its coach (Michel Therrian) mid-season while the Canadiens were actually in first place.  The subsequent hire of Claude Julien who, in turn, was fired from the playoff-bound Boston Bruins leads to the undoubted conclusion that OH NO I'VE GONE CROSS EYED...

Anyway, Mats "Crazy Eyes" Zuccarello scored two goals just over half-a-period apart to give the Rangers a lead they would never relinquish.

Derek Stepan would add an empty-netter to give New York the series win, where they will stare down the previously victorious Ottawa Senators.

---Edmonton Oilers defeat the San Jose Sharks (Edmonton Wins the Series, 4-2)---

With an opportunity to eliminate the defending Western Conference Champions the San Jose Sharks on their own ice, the Edmonton Oilers came out and played a timid first period, but made up for that early in the second.

Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers' second leading scorer behind presumptive Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid, buried a shot just 54 seconds into period 2.  Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom picked up helpers on the Draisaitl's opening tally in the game.

Just under a minute later, unheralded (and unexpected) Anton Slepyshev scored his first of the post-season and gave Edmonton an all-critical two goal lead.

The lead would hold into the 3rd people where the Sharks found themselves with a key power-play with Edmonton's Matt Benning off for Tripping. 

Cam Talbot had to enact desperation techniques to keep a loose puck out of the net at around 8 minute mark left in regulation, but the subsequent reset allowed Patrick Marlowe to find the space needed to shovel a shot past Talbot to make the game 2-1.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins then found himself in literal no-man's-land, causing a "too many men on the ice" situation that a goal-down San Jose Sharks team desperately needed.

Marleau, Thornton and Burns rotated the perimeter, waiting for the perfect opportunity...and the with a minute left, it looked as though Joe Pavelski had tied it, only to have the so-called goal waived away as the puck was still alive.  A whistle & replay showed the Pavelski's shot hit both the crossbar and post on its way through the goal mouth: the ultimate in injury.

Ultimately, the creme would rise to the crop and Connor McDavid scored with but a second left to give Edmonton the Series, 2-4.

The Western Conference now appears wide open to the teams still involved, and whoever claims the Conference Champion is anyone's guess.  Best of luck to their squads moving forward in the coming days!

1 comment:

  1. Sooooo many spelling, and grammatical errors.


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