After all those years of being juggernauts, it’s weird to label the Detroit Red Wings as “underdogs,” but that’s the undeniable case in their second-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks. Whatever you want to call them, the league’s gold standard franchise now has a 2-1 series lead over the Presidents’ Trophy winners after a 3-1 win in Game 3 on Monday.
Let’s bat around some topics.
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- So, where do we start with controversial calls? Fans of both teams have plenty of reason to beef, but which calls bother you the most? Did one team receive greater benefits in your opinion?
- To be more specific, how do you feel about the Blackhawks goal that was disallowed because of goalie interference and the Patrick Kane goal that happened despite Johan Franzen’s injury? Are those rare instances of make-up calls on tallies?
- The Blackhawks power play struggles overshadow their perfect penalty kill (28 for 28 so far in the playoffs). What should Joel Quenneville do to improve the output of the special teams unit? Is Mike Haviland secretly smiling?
- This year’s Chicago team hasn’t faced many bumps in the road beyond injuries. Are they in big trouble right now? Could a season full of success become a problem in a way now that they’re down 2-1 in a series?
- Speaking of rare struggles, Jonathan Toews is still without a goal in the postseason and only has three assists. How much longer will things go before pundits wonder if he isn’t as great of a leader as he’s been billed to be? Is it just a matter of bad puck luck?
- Which Red Wings players deserve the most credit for this great work? Is it as obvious as Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk being premier two-way forwards?
- How much is this about Mike Babcock’s brilliance? Detroit is finding ways to smother one of the most dangerous offensive attacks in recent memory.
- So, who wins this series? It’s more up to question than many expected.
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: