For more entries in this series, click here.
Blame it on some fantastic competition in the Western Conference or not, but the St. Louis Blues must have an empty feeling after dropping four straight games to lose to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 in their first round series. Let’s take a brief look back at their season.
- Here’s the synopsis before we get into the details: the Blues enjoyed another exceptional regular season only to fall in the first round for the second season in a row.
- Some won’t care about context, but they lost to the eventual champions in 2012 in the semifinals, those same Los Angeles Kings who were defending champions in 2013 and the current defending champion Blackhawks. Maybe that earns a little leeway?
- The Blues lost 10 of their last 12 games and gave up a 2-0 series lead. Fair or not, there will be some who will throw around the word “chokers.”
- After being patient with Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, the Blues bet big on Ryan Miller. While he started off hot after that trade, the ultimate result was mediocre results in the regular season (10-8-1 with a .903 save percentage) and a pretty poor finish. The Blues out-played the ‘Hawks heavily yet Corey Crawford topped Miller in Game 6.
- This is probably bad news for the Buffalo Sabres, too, as they lose out on a first-round pick under most circumstances. (Read more about the in’s and out’s of that here.)
- The Blues were a dominant team for much of the season, but they sagged heading into the playoffs thanks to injuries and other concerns. PHT asked if the Blues could get back on track and the answer appeared to be “No.”
- There are plenty of questions about where the team should go from here. Ken Hitchcock isn’t getting any younger, which has to be a consideration even for a head coach. Most obviously, the biggest question is in net; Miller may opt for a team like the Anaheim Ducks while Brian Elliott is an unrestricted free agent. Where do they go from here?
- Much of the Blues’ core is in place and is fairly young, so GM Doug Armstrong may lean toward tweaking his setup rather than blowing everything up (especially after signing Alexander Steen to a big extension).
Honestly, it’s tough to blame people for making Edmonton Oilers jokes in regards to the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.
Really it’s only human nature to drop one-liners about the perennial cellar-dweller that (seemingly) always lands the No. 1 pick.
Will it happen again this time around? We’ll find out soon enough, more precisely sometime around 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
As you can see, the Oilers do not have the best odds to land the top pick … but they’re close:
A reminder: this time around the lottery will determine the top three picks. The NHL discusses that tweak and other changes here:
For the first time, the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will assign the top three slots in the first round of the NHL Draft – a change from prior years, when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection exclusively.
Want the full lowdown on the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery? PHT has you covered here.
The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Some reading to get you pumped up:
– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media (reportedly).
– Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.
– T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.
– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).
– Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win.
For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.
Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.
But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.
Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.
When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.
Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.
The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.
Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.
This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.
Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.
Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.
Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.