The Pittsburgh Penguins are on to the Eastern Conference final, and they appear to have found their stride in this second round.
The Penguins knocked off the Ottawa Senators by a final score of 6-2 on Friday night, closing out the Eastern Conference semifinal in five games.
Here are some talking points.
- The Penguins advance to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 2009, when they won the Stanley Cup. Just saying.
- Is this the final National Hockey League game for Daniel Alfredsson? The Senators’ captain is 40 years of age and a pending unrestricted free agent this summer.
- If this is Alfredsson’s last game, let’s have a look at the numbers: regular season games played (1,178); goals (426); assists (682); points (1,108). Impressive.
- Adding salt to the wound, James Neal scored the hat trick goal to put Pittsburgh up 6-2 in the third period. And it was a beauty, with the toe-drag around Erik Karlsson. He now has five goals in his last two games.
- The Penguins, in the final two games of this series, scored 13 times.
- In 2009, when the Penguins won the Cup, they did not win a single series on home ice. In 2013, in the second round, they put an end to the Senators’ season at home.
- Former teammates with the Florida Panthers, Tomas Vokoun outplayed Craig Anderson between the pipes in this series.
- Who is next? The New York Rangers or Boston Bruins? It’s looking like the Bruins.
- Canada’s lone remaining NHL team is out. Who do Canadians cheer for now?
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.
After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.
Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.
Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.
Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.
Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.
Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:
From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.
Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?
The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.
That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.
If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.