Tonight’s draft was full of twists, turns and surprises. Some players made big leaps (such as Ryan Johansen, the fourth overall pick) while others plummeted (Cam Fowler at 12, Emerson Etem at 29).
The tomfoolery is far from over, though, news-famished hockey fans. It turns out that Saturday will see six more rounds of increasingly obscure prospects (devolving to the point in which I imagine general managers will break out the darts and blindfolds). Few mock drafts or top-30 rankings are the same, so there might be a few quality players out there who will struggle to sleep tonight.
Let’s take a look at the top five remaining prospects eligible for this year’s draft. If you want to be a Negative Nancy, you might call them the biggest snubs. If you want to be mean, you can disagree with our choices.
1. Jonathon Merrill – The American-born blueliner was the 21st ranked North American player according to Central Scouting and went No. 17 in our mock draft. He’s a hard-hitter with a nasty shot.
2. John McFarland – He was the #1 pick of an OHL draft and went 18th in our mock. At one point, he seemed like a blue chipper, but scouts soured on him over time. He might smell a little like Angelo Esposito in that way, but he could also be a great buy-low candidate.
3. Tyler Pitlick – Besides having a funny last name, Pitlick seemed to be a worthy first-rounder. Brandon said he has the size and power to be a special player, in the right situation.
4. Calvin Pickard – A shoo-in for me to nickname him Calvin “Captain” Pickard. Goalies are mysterious, so you never know, but despite shaky numbers he shows a lot of potential.
5. Stanislav Galiev – He’s a Russian prospect but comes with the benefit of having some seasoning in North American hockey. I’m also very tempted to give him a “Galileo”-influenced nickname. I think I have a pun problem.
What a start.
This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.
This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.
What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:
This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.
There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.
If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.
— Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.
— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.
— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.
— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.
— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.
Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.
You can see that incident below:
Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.
Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.
This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.
In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.
Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints
For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.
Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.
In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:
After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.
Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.
Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: