Canucks share memories from 14-game trip

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Before the season started, I expected the Flames to take the Northwest division because of Vancouver’s absurd 14-game road streak (lets not even linger upon how wrong I was about Colorado). Even though the giant trip was broken up by the Olympic break, my guess was that would be little solace to Olympians like Roberto Luongo, the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler.

Clearly, I was dead wrong. The Canucks managed an impressive 8-5-1 record during the road trip and remain atop the Northwest. NHL.com has some really fantastic stuff on the Canucks’ epic road swing. I’ll pick out some of my favorite excerpts to save your delicate, perhaps Constanza-sque hands the beating of all that clicking and scrolling.

One of the better articles I’ve read in quite some time features the reflections of various Canucks players regarding the trip.

BEST CANUCKS SUPPORT

Tanner Glass — “Phoenix is incredible. We would score and it felt like we were at a home game, it was awesome. Lots of kids asking for autographs standing outside in the sun there, it’s nice, people get down there for a vacation and they take in a Canucks game.”

If this article is any indication, Tanner Glass and Darcy Hordichuk are the best quotes on their team. Hordichuk, in particular, sounds like quite the character.

BEST SLEEP

Darcy Hordichuk — “I’m fortunate enough to be a pretty good sleeper, but in Colorado it was the best. You open the windows and get some of that fresh air and you get a view of the mountains and it’s just such peaceful scenery. That’s a city anyone can have a good night’s sleep in.”

BEST MEMORY

Tanner Glass — “It was long, there was a lot of plane rides, a lot of busing and a lot of wake-up calls. That’s probably going to be my biggest memory actually, waking up to Hordi’s chanting every morning, that will stick with me for a while, as much as I’d like to get rid of it. I don’t even know what he is chanting, I don’t think it’s in English, he just wakes up and opens the blinds and lets the sunlight come in and then he yells something in Yiddish or something. That’s my memory.”

Jump for some fascinating stats (and joke stats) from the Canucks’ historic road trip.


Finally, here are some of my favorite factoids from Derek Jory’s “by the numbers” take on the Canucks’ road trip. Again, great job by NHL.com to go beyond the obvious and come up with some really colorful takes on this unusual situation.

  • 42 – Days away from General Motors Place
  • 13 – North American cities visited (Columbus twice)
  • 3 – Time zones visited (9 East, 3 Central, 2 Mountain)
  • -15.8 – Coldest city (in degrees Celsius) visited (Ottawa)
  • +15.5 – Warmest city (in degrees Celsius) visited (Phoenix)
  • 20,737 – Total kilometers traveled (11,608 first half, 9,129 second half)
  • 30 hours, 17 minutes – Total flight time (16:35 first half, 13:42 second half)
  • 7 – Times Darcy Hordichuk sang, “This is the trip that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends…”
  • 28 – Points up for grabs
  • 17 – Points earned
  • 6 – Comeback wins
  • 22,235 – Highest attendance (Chicago)
  • 12,861 – Lowest attendance (Colorado)
  • 0 – Times Daniel Sedin pretended to be twin brother Henrik or vice versa
  • 2,520 – Facebook status updates, in millions, by users since the Canucks left

(H/T to Alix Wright from Canucks Hockey Blog)

Backstrom provides OT winner as Capitals take 3-2 series lead

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The Washington Capitals are on the verge of the second round.

Yes, the Capitals, who began the series with back-to-back losses in Game 1 and 2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, are now on the brink of eliminating Ohio’s team after Nicklas Backstrom‘s deft deflection in overtime gave the Capitals their third straight win and a 3-2 series lead.

It was the fourth time in the series both clubs played to a tie in regulation. After Columbus won the first two in OT, Washington replied with a win in double-overtime in Game 3 before Backstrom ended Game 5 at the 11:53 mark of the first frame of free hockey.

Backstrom scored his first goal of the series to open the scoring for the Caps and assisted for the sixth time in the series on the go-ahead goal in the second period before Oliver Bjorkstrand tied it in third.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Braden Holtby had to be sharp, especially in the third period as, inexplicably, the Caps were outshot 16-1. At home. Holtby made 40 saves when it was all said and done.

Two-hundred feet away, Sergei Bobrovsky was up to the task, making some silly stops including a big one on Alex Ovechkin earlier in overtime and a bigger one in regulation time off the same man’s stick.

Game 6 of this series is slated for Monday in Columbus, with a start time still to be determined.

In his post-game comments, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said, twice, that his team will be back in the capital for Game 7.

The promise has been made.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Kucherov, Vasilevskiy shine as Lightning eliminate Devils in 5

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One’s up for the Hart as the NHL’s best player while the other is up for the Vezina as the league’s top goaltender. Both combined their talents to eliminate the New Jersey Devils with a 2-1 win in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday.

Nikita Kucherov was once again on point for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Saturday’s matinee. Leading 1-0 in the third period, Kucherov scored a clutch goal — his fifth of the series — to put the Lightning from just inside the blue line to put the Bolts up two with seven minutes and change remaining.

It proved vital, Kucherov’s goal, as the Devils attempted a late comeback with Kyle Palmieri scored with three minutes remaining after Devils pulled Cory Schneider for the extra attacker 30 seconds earlier.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall in the final 180 seconds, stopping 26-of-27 to help usher the Lightning into the second round.

Tampa, the Atlantic Division winners in the regular season, will face the winner of the series between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, who play later on Saturday in Game 5. The Bruins lead the series 3-1.

Kucherov was as immense for the Lightning as he was oppressive for the Devils, adding five assists to bring his series total to 10 points. His usual scoring touch was supplemented by his play in the physical department, including this bone-crushing hit on New Jersey defenseman Sami Vatanen.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

For the Devils, it was hard-fought series from a young team still trying to find its way in the playoffs.

The Devils abandoned goalie Keith Kinkaid after dropping the first two games. Cory Schneider, who hadn’t won a game in 2018 before Game 3, came in and provided the spark in goal, one that seemed to get the Devils going at the other end of the rink as well as they rolled to a 5-3 win.

But that well ran dry in Game 4 as the Devils produced just one goal in a 3-1 loss. Game 5 was much the same, production-wise, with the Devils only managing one goal.

Fellow Hart Trophy candidate Taylor Hall provided two goals and six points in the series after a 93-point regular season. Rookie Nico Hischier managed just a goal after scoring 20 in his rookie campaign.

For Vasilevskiy, after looking far more human in the second half of the season, finding his mojo again can only be mean bad things for future playoff opponents.

The young Russian finished with a .941 save percentage in the series.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Blue Jackets’ Matt Calvert scores a most unusual breakaway goal (Video)

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We’ve all see some breakaways go horribly, horribly wrong in the past.

Patrik Stefan reigns supreme here. Devin Setoguchi didn’t fare too well on this one. And then there was this gaffe by Dennis Wideman once upon a time.

But sometimes one screws up, only to rebound quickly and turn a near-blunder into a nice-ish goal.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert did that today, in what’s already being called the best/worst breakaway attempt of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As you can see in the video above, Calvert gets a nice clean breakaway. As he attempts to first a wrist shot, he whiffs on the attempt but manages to corral the puck back, doing the whole spin-o-rama thing, and deposit the puck past Braden Holtby for his second goal of the game.

Sometimes it just all works out.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Lightning, Bruins try to move on to Round 2

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Game 5: New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning, 3 p.m. ET (Lightning lead series 3-1)
NBC/NBCSN*
Call: Gord Miller, Joe Micheletti
Series preview
Stream

Game 5: Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals, 3 p.m. ET (Series tied 2-2)
NBC/NBCSN*
Call: Chris Cuthbert, Ray Ferraro
Series preview
Stream

Game 5: Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins, 8 p.m. ET (Bruins lead series 3-1)
NBC
Call: Mike Emrick, Mike Milbury, Pierre McGuire
Series preview
Stream

*Regionalized coverage – Florida markets and WNBC in New York metro area will air NJ-TB on NBC and CBJ-WSH on NBCSN; all other markets will receive CBJ-WSH on NBC and NJ-TB on NBCSN

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]