The Columbus Blue Jackets deserve a lot of credit for battling back from a 3-1 deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins to earn their franchise’s first playoff win. That being said, did Pittsburgh’s overconfidence and desire to add to an already comfortable lead contribute to the team’s downfall?
That was the verdict of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Joe Starkey. Or as he put it:
They never learn.
Every time the Penguins start to feel good about themselves, it seems they want to feel better. Good isn’t good enough. They are hockey’s great narcissists — hopelessly addicted to their own wondrous skill.
One example of what Starkey is referring to was Pittsburgh’s decision to put out four forwards during a Columbus penalty midway through the second period. The Blue Jackets scored nine shorthanded goals in the regular season and had already added another to that list in Game 1 of this series.
So even down a man, the Blue Jackets are a threat to score, and they did, narrowing the Penguins’ lead to just one goal:
“The shorthanded goal for us was, I thought, the difference maker in the game,” Blue Jackets coach Todd RIchards told the Columbus Dispatch’ Aaron Portzline. “It gave hope to our guys.”
It was also the byproduct of “sheer Penguins arrogance,” according to Starkey.
Columbus went on to earn a 4-3 double-overtime victory. Pittsburgh has now allowed at least three goals in 15 of its last 23 playoff contests, dating back to 2012.
Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins.
It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.
Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).
There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.
Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.
The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.
The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)
For more on the three finalists, click here.
It’s a feel-good story, especially if you can look beyond questions of officiating.
Clarke MacArthur could have very well never played another NHL game considering his lengthy battles with concussion symptoms. Instead, he drew a penalty on the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 6 and then managed to score the series-clinching goal.
Now, this isn’t to say that MacArthur didn’t rightfully draw a penalty; it most clearly was. And, in the bigger picture, it’s one of those stories that almost makes you wonder if real-life sports actually do follow Hollywood scripts.
People just wonder about some other decisions during that overtime, in particular, making it frustrating for some Bruins fans to see the season end in such a way.
Whether they like it or not, that is the case, though.
The Senators took Game 6 by a score of 3-2 (OT), winning their series 4-2. They can breathe a sigh of relief in avoiding a Game 7, an especially valuable bonus since Erik Karlsson had been pushed hard lately, logging more than 40 minutes in a recent game.
Ottawa avoids a do-or-die contest. Instead, they’ll face the New York Rangers in the next round while the Bruins enter the summer following an up-and-down campaign.
Every game in this Senators – Bruins series has been decided by one goal, so why not send Game 6 to overtime?
Oh, and speaking of overtime, this contest going beyond regulation makes it 17 OT games, tying an NHL record for the most in a single round.
Ottawa appeared to take a “lazy change” with a 2-1 lead, and Patrice Bergeron made the Senators pay, putting in a rebound to collect the goal that eventually sent this contest to overtime.