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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hockey After Dark: Night One 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)

Welcome to my nightly manuscript manifested from melatonin malnourishment, "Hockey After Dark!"

The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't waste any time in creating some postseason drama, eh Ron?

That it did, Mr. Burgundy.  That it did.
Imagine the stunned faces at the PPG Paints Arena when #29 Marc-Andre Fleury led his teammates on the ice instead of presumptive starter– and defending Stanley Cup Champion– Matt Murray.

A few avid Penguins fans were worried.  No, terrified.  No, mortified.  No...well, you be the judge:

As the hockey fates would have it, maybe entering the fray cold was exactly what Fleury needed, as he paced the Penguins in the first period, keeping the game scoreless despite a Columbus onslaught that saw the Blue Jackets out-shoot the Pens by a 16-3 margin.

After Fleury held the proverbial fort, Bryan "Just Call Me Palladium Because I Don't" Rust took a clever foot pass from Phil Kessel to break the scoreless tie and give Pittsburgh the first goal of the series.

Just minutes later, with Matt Calvert off for tripping, Phil Kessel picked up precisely where he left off in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, sniping the upper right corner of the net in the way that only Phil Kessel can do:

GET IT?  IT'S A HOT DOG.  Unrelated, I'm only so-so at Photoshop.
Nick Boninoboninoboninoboninoboniiinoooooooooo would cap off the Pittsburgh scoring when he found a Patric Hornqvist rebound and deposited it past Sergei Bobrovsky...

...which reminds me, Sergei Bob (as he is affectionately known to anyone intimidated by pronouncing a Russian last name) has the second best "Maaan, you kicked my puppy!" face after surrendering a goal among all NHL net-minders.  More on the man with the best (worst?) goal-allowed reaction shortly.

In any case, Columbus would break Fleury's shutout in the 3rd period following a Benny Hill-esque clearing attempt that found the blade of the aforementioned Matt Calvert.

Pittsburgh would hold the Blue Jackets off for the remainder of the game to claim a 3-1 victory and 1-0 lead in the Best-of-Seven series.

Fleury was named the game's #1 star for his performance, with Phil Kessel (1 G, 1 A) and Evgeni Malkin (2 Assists) taking the #2 and #3 stars, respectively.

Pittsburgh will have to assess the injury to Murray before Game 2, while Columbus will have to reconfigure its attack if they are to win a playoff series for the first time in franchise history.


----St. Louis Blues defeat the Minnesota Wild, 2-1 (STL leads the series, 1-0)---

Wouldn't Jean-Claude's Coach Notice the Style Change? I did.
Jake Allen made 51 freaking saves– many of the "Oh, COME ON JEAN-CLAUDE, A GOALIE WOULD NEVER DO THAT!" variety– to help his team crush the soul of the Minnesota Wild and their fans.  Zach Parise had tied the game with under a minute left to play in regulation, only to have Allen stimy the Minnesota attack.

Overtime came to an end in the most predictable hockey way ever, with Joel "I've Only Scored 3 Regular Season Goals, Ever, But Guess What, Now I Have Two Playoff Overtime Winners" Edmundson burying a wide open shot following a broken Vladimir Tarasenko drive.

---New York Rangers defeat the Montreal Canadians 2-0 (NYR leads the series, 1-0)---

Is it just me, or is there a Bradley Cooper resemblance?
Remember how Sergei Bob has chronic surly face after giving up a goal?  Well, the only netminder that shows up his teammates worse than Bobrovsky is Henrik "Face" Lundqvist.  Or wait, is it Henrik "Waaah" Lundqvist?

Either way, none of that came to pass as Lundqvist shut out the Canadians and Tanner "FREAKING" Glass scored the game winning goal.

The apocalypse truly is nigh.

---San Jose Sharks defeat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 (SJS leads the series, 1-0)---

The Edmonton Oilers came roaring out of the gate following their decade long hiatus from the post-season, scoring twice in the first period against the defending Western Conference Champions, the San Jose Sharks.

Unfortunately for Connor McDavid and the rest of the Oilers, NHL games are 3 periods (and sometimes OT) and not just 1, and after San Jose's Paul Martin tied the game, the Sharks' Melker Karlsson would rip a wrist shot past Cam Talbot in OT to give San Jose an unexpected 1-0 lead in the series.

The series lead is unexpected because San Jose is playing without the services of Joe Thornton, and because pundits (including yours truly) thought that Edmonton's speed would give the Sharks fits.  I was wrong.

Guys, I admitted that I was wrong.  The apocalypse is, like, tomorrow night.  REPENT!

---Boston Bruins defeat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 (BOS leads the series, 1-0)---

Entering last night's opening round tilt, the hockey analytics community had universally fawned over the Boston Bruins' "advanced stats," saying that their record and final standing were not indicative of their overall quality of play given their Corsi & Fenwick statistics (basically, shot attempts for those of you scoring at home).

During the second period of their game, the Senators managed to whitewash the Bruins' on the shot scoreboard, prompting the Ottawa PR team to tweet out the following:

And let's be real for a second- the tweet is funny.  It's especially hilarious because Ottawa was thrashing the Bruins by the score of 1-0 and...

....ah, I bet all of you can see where this is going.

Well, the Boston "We Had No Shots on Goal in the Second Period" Bruins went on to score twice in the 3rd period, taking both Game 1 and the series lead.

Pro Tip: never mock the hockey Gods until Kate Smith sings.

There: a dig against the Philadelphia Flyers.  Promises fulfilled.  Until tomorrow night...

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