The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs are underway and since the drop of the puck last Monday in Game 1 of Round 1, several of the key storylines are playing out on the ice. There is always a lot of drama in the playoffs, but it seems like this year with so many good teams, it is even higher than normal. There is so much pressure on teams to get to the second round of the playoffs. Especially the ones like Florida and Toronto who have not been there in a long time. But through the first week of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, you can clearly see that teams that have gone through adversity during the season are more battle-tested than those who found it easy to win.
Not to mention the teams that are able to play a better defensive structure have been able to slow down those high-powered offences from the regular season. As we will mention looking at what Dallas is doing to Calgary in their series. The same goes for what Washington has done to Florida. While goals are up like in the regular season, the teams that can get good goaltending and play good defence are up in their series. Now in some cases, it is only three games. In other cases, it is four games. But one thing is for sure outside of the Colorado Avalanche, who are dominating the Nashville Predators, every series has the potential to go six or seven games.
Time to dive into the Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook.
Stanley Cup Playoffs Notebook
Defensive Hockey Wins
Dallas vs Calgary
Entering the series against the Dallas Stars, the Calgary Flames were heavy favourites to win. However, Dallas was the one team Calgary did not want to play entering the playoffs. Considering the history between the Stars and Flames in the playoffs. The last meeting in the 2020 bubble playoff saw Dallas win in six games. Entering the playoffs the Stars had a chance to be this year’s version of the Columbus Blues Jackets of 2019, considering the adversity they had to go through at the end of the season.
And right now the Stars are up 2-1 in the series. The Stars have been able to slow down the Flames offence, which has been an issue in past playoffs. Even though the top line of Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, and Johnny Gaudreau has been on the scoresheet, it is now as impressive a rate as it was in the regular season.
Tkachuk is more concerned about the extracurricular activities after the whistle with John Klingberg than focusing on scoring. While head coach Darryl Sutter likes that, Tkachuk needs to be engaged in scoring instead of fighting. But that is what good defensive teams do to good offensive teams. Dallas has found a way to limit one of the highest-scoring teams in the league to just three goals in three games.
Then there is goaltending. Jake Oettinger has outplayed Jacob Markstrom. Especially in Game 3. Both Oettinger and Markstrom split shutouts in the first two games. But in Game 3, Oettinger was better as Markstrom looked shaky. Then the ageless wonder Joe Pavelski continues to deliver for the Stars in the playoffs. In three games, Pavelski has three goals and comes up clutch when the Stars need a goal the most.
The question will be for Calgary is can get secondary scoring to help them get back in the series. Nobody picked Calgary at the beginning of the season, even with Sutter as the head coach, maybe if they got back to that mindset they can get back to their game instead of letting Dallas dictate play.
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Washington vs Florida
Over in the East, the Florida Panthers are facing adversity for the first time all season. The Panthers cruised to the President’s Trophy. However, they find themselves in a dogfight against the Capitals in the first round of the playoffs. The Panthers trail the Capitals 2-1 in the series, and have not looked like the team they were during the regular season. That is what happens when a team does not face adversity in the regular season.
The Capitals are battled tested similar to the Stars. Even though the East was set, they needed to win games later in the season to secure their berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Because at one point there was a chance Washington could miss. However, just like Dallas, the Capitals have been able to shut down the high-octane Panthers offence. Florida has not been able to transition through the neutral zone as much as they have wanted to. That has made life difficult for Florida. Even though they broke through in Game 2, Washington was in that game until the third period.
In Game 3, it was all Washington. Florida took uncharacteristic penalties that cost them. Not to mention, the Panthers defensively have not been good. Even with Aaron Ekblad back. Florida is giving up too many chances and Sergei Bobrovsky has not been able to come up with the big save. The Panthers need him or else Washington can find themselves up 3-1.
Can Florida dig deep to find a way to claw back into this series or will it be another first-round exit?
- St. Louis and Minnesota have lived up to the hype. Through four games, the Blues and Wild each have lopsided victories. Game 4 was the closest until midway through the third period. This series is truly a pick’em and will go the distance.
- A series does not get started until a home team loses a game. Well for Boston and Carolina, each team has held serve on home ice with the series shifting back to Carolina.
- Carolina’s goaltending is becoming an issue as the Perfection Line for Boston is reunited and clicking.
- Tampa Bay shows why they are the champs. The Lightning are now 16-0 following a loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs dating back to the 2020 playoffs as the Lightning won Game 4 against Toronto.
- Sidney Crosby is still one of the best players ever to play the game. It is unreal what he is doing in the series against the Rangers. Crosby has six points through three games and has only one goal. And it was a great goal going 1 on 4 in Game 2.
- And of course, the officiating has not been good, but that is another point for another time. Let’s just say the NHL has no idea what goaltender interference is.
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