|"...Where Insomnia Hits the Ice."|
Two nights ago, I mentioned that the Columbus Blue Jackets were on a historical pace to reach 16 playoff victories (the number of wins needed to claim the Stanley Cup) by the year 2153, a duration that would include TWO visits of Halley's Comet.
Unfortunately for stargazers, they will only see Halley's Comet once before the Blue Jackets get to 16 wins, as Columbus scored early and held on late to take Game 4 by a final score of 5-4.
Critics of Marc-Andre Fleury (and even "fans" of MAF) will be quick to point to Fleury's anemic .853 save percentage as yet another example of Fleury's post-season struggles, but #29 got little to no help from his teammates, especially in and around the goal crease.
|I am a Photoshop WIZARD.|
Columbus notched the first three tallies of the game, with the goals coming from Jack Johnson, Josh Anderson, and Markus Nutiaara ("Nutella" for our purposes here).
The Penguins would roar back with garbage goals from Patric Hornqvist and Ron Hainsey (DRINK! Responsibly, of course) to make the game 3-2 Columbus entering the third.
Fleury critics (and again, fans) will then point to William Karlsson scoring a mere 27 seconds into the third stanza as further evidence of MAF's lack of "clutch" play.
Tom Hakunta Matata would score his first goal of the playoffs a little under two minutes later to once again bring the Penguins within a goal, but Boone Jenner would answer when three (3!) Penguin defenders failed to box out/mark their Columbus counterpart.
|"No...words. ...also, I should mention no defensive help."|
Jake "Tim Kerr" Guentzel would score late to bring the Penguins within a goal, but they were unable to muster a shot on goal in the final 20+ seconds before the clock expired.
For Columbus, the win kept them in the series and validated the roster changes instituted by coach John Tortorella. Torts had clearly deferred to the Blue Jackets trying to physically knock the Penguins off of their game, but facing a 3-0 hole (and the lack of Penguin retaliation), the switch to strict hockey paid off in spades as Columbus jumped out to the aforementioned 3-goal lead and trapped their way in the final minutes to the third playoff victory in franchise history.
Pittsburgh will look to close out the Blue Jackets at home on Thursday night, and barring a drastic change in healthy, Fleury will once again mind the net for the team in black & gold.
---New York Rangers defeat the Montreal Canadians 2-1 (Series tied 2-2)---
This series was billed as a matchup of goaltenders (oooh, how exciting!), and both netminders have delivered through a series of OT games & close affairs.
Neither team features a dynamic play-maker (sorry 2008 Rick Nash, you do not apply in this instance), and the lack of a PK Subban deprives this series of the personality a clash between NHL royalty (the Canadians) and New York attention (the Rangers) would otherwise provide.
---San Jose Sharks defeat the Edmonton Oilers 3,179 to Not Nearly Enough (Series tied 2-2)---
Readers, I love you, but when a game is 7-0 during the third period, I reserve the right to pull a CNN/Fox News and "call it" for the team with the touchdown lead.
There really isn't anything to write home about regarding this game, other than Joe Pavelski showed off a new mohawk and scored at least two goals (again, I'm calling it a night early) and...
|Yikes. Egads to the gonads.|
...okay, fine, this is particularly noteworthy. Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl (Connor McDavid's favorite linemate) was given a 5 minute penalty and match ejection following a spear/ball tap to San Jose's Chris Tierney.
Given that Brad Marchand was suspended two regular season games for his similar spear/tap, it's likely (if not probable) that Draisaitl faces similar discipline, especially since the infraction occurred with his team down six goals and falls under the wide umbrella and precedent of "message sending" (thanks, Tom Kuhnhackl).
If Draisaitl is suspended for any amount of time, the already offensively challenged Oilers (McDavid is by and large THE Edmonton offense) will be forced to try something different against the defending Western Conference Champion.
For instance, Edmonton might want to scrap their penalty kill strategy (the Sharks scored a team record 4 PP goals) or simply try to stay out of the box altogether.
Feel free (as usual) to respond with your comments, observations, gripes, complaints, corrections, and explanations on whether or not Cobb was awake or sleep at the end of "Inception"