I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
The Pittsburgh Penguins secured home-ice advantage against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
Pittsburgh will be the Metro’s second seed while Columbus comes in third. (Allows people to understandably grumble about two top teams meeting in the first round thanks to the divisive playoff format.)
The Penguins hobble into the postseason with some significant injuries, most obviously with Kris Letang out until next year and Evgeni Malkin hopeful to play. At least they get to open the postseason at home (and would get a Game 7 in Pittsburgh if necessary).
Pittsburgh won the only playoff meeting between the two teams, taking a 4-2 series back in 2013-14. It was an entertaining, contentious series that may serve as a solid preview of what could come this time around, even with a superior cast of characters.
Injuries have been brutal to the Tampa Bay Lightning, so Vladislav Namestnikov can’t complain too much. At least not in that specific locker room.
Still, it’s been a bumpy season – literally and figuratively – for the young forward, and that trend continued with a painful moment on Thursday.
Namestnikov was the unlucky, bloodied recipient of a William Nylander shot to the face, as you can see in the video above.
With Auston Matthews also suffering from a few painful moments, the Leafs and Lightning may both need extra ice packs/bandages after this game.
The beauty of having a player’s parents on hand is that you can capture reactions in real-time. In many cases, that means happiness (or even tears of joy) following a big success. Of course … there’s always the chance you’ll film a moment of righteous anger, too.
Toronto Maple Leafs fans were holding their breath after star Auston Matthews was shaken up by a knee-to-knee hit via Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin. You can see that check in the video above.
While Leafs fans were worried, his parents were justifiably angry (and worried):
The good news is that Matthews is at least seemingly OK.
It’s been a long night for Matthews already.
Sidney Crosby‘s been lighting up goalies left and right with his shooting prowess lately. Honestly, it’s to the point where you forget that playmaking is still likely his greatest gift.
… And then, well, Thursday happens.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are in a bit of a track meet with the New Jersey Devils tonight, with Nick Bonino providing some great assisting magic of his own. As per usual, Crosby stole the show with an And1 Mixtape-worthy no-look helper to Conor Sheary.
Drop your jaw in awe of this gaudy display in the video above.
At least one person wonders if Crosby could have been so audacious in a different era:
Chances are, he would have found a different way to do something ridiculous.
The Boston Bruins have plenty of incentive to play hard through at least Thursday’s game. Still, seeding gains may seem less significant if Torey Krug misses playoff time.
Krug left tonight’s contest against the Ottawa Senators and won’t return because of a lower-body injury, the team confirms.
On one hand, there’s the concern that this could stretch out into the postseason. Of course, it’s also plausible that the Bruins are just being extra-careful and Krug’s issue could be minor. We’ll just need to wait and see.
It may tweak their recall moves a bit, although this tweak may also be coincidental.