“We weren’t overwhelmed like can happen with a young team in a playoff atmosphere,” Kekalainen said. “I thought we came out looking very relaxed-intense, if I can call it that.”
Forward Brandon Dubinsky took the lead step for the team to show them how not to be scared of the Penguins’ talent level by agitating Sidney Crosby all game long. Expect to see a lot more of that throughout the series as the two have a bit of a history as Puck Daddy shared.
It’s that brand of playing without fear that Kekalainen likes and the rest of the Blue Jackets have to keep bringing the rest of the way. At the least, maybe they can wear the Penguins out to create turnovers.
After Eastern Conference teams deserved a “C” on Monday, they generally passed Tuesday’s tests with flying colors. Sometimes they carved out three-point games when relevant teams faced off, too.
It’s almost bewildering trying to figure out where to start … so how about the top of the East?
Metro’s rich get richer
The Minnesota Wild deserve credit for fighting back from a considerable deficit, including overcoming an Alex Ovechkin hat trick (all on the power play). Ultimately, T.J. Oshie‘s overtime-winner gave Washington the 5-4 (OT) win.
Elsewhere in the Metro’s top ranks, Sergei Bobrovsky grabbed his 41st win of the season (3-1 win against the Sabres) to put Columbus three points behind the Capitals and two ahead of the idle Penguins.
The Montreal Canadiens handled the Dallas Stars 4-1 in The Epic Battle of the Benns. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the second-place Senators 3-2 via a shootout
Both the Maple Leafs and Bruins won their games, leaving Toronto one point ahead of Boston for third in the Atlantic.
Atlantic top five
1. Canadiens – 95 points in 76 games played
2. Senators – 91 points in 75 GP
3. Maple Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP
Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP
Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Finally, let’s look at the final spot in the East
OK, so there’s some overlap here. Why don’t we check on the most wild-card-relevant teams?
Third Atlantic spot: Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP
Final spot: Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP
Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 82 points in 75 GP
Flyers – 80 points in 76 GP
Panthers – 77 points in 76 GP
Again, the Bruins won, as did the Flyers. The Lightning were idle. The Panthers fell to the Maple Leafs. Buffalo lost while Detroit and New Jersey are out of the running.
You know who deserves special mention outside of the top eight? The Carolina Hurricanes deserve such a distinction, as they are enjoying one of their hottest runs in franchise history after beating Detroit 4-1.
When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.
It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.
After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:
Most Consecutive Appearances in #StanleyCup Playoffs: 29: BOS, 67/68–95/96 28: CHI, 69/70–96/97 25: STL, 79/80–03/05 and DET, 90/91–15/16
For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.
Also, for some, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson specifically may provide additional pleasure.
Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.
Wilson may be hurt, by the way. He missed some time but returned later in the contest.