Well, of course he did.
Alex Ovechkin came into Saturday with 47 goals on the season, eyeing a rare full campaign in which he (and thus the rest of the NHL) might not hit that 50-goal mark. The St. Louis Blues certainly had every reason to stop him, too, being that they’re in a dogfight with the Dallas Stars for the Central Division crown.
The Washington Capitals, meanwhile, had little to play for beyond milestones (speaking of which, Braden Holtby‘s likely to tie Martin Brodeur for the single-season wins record at 48).
So, those thoughts might swim in your head and make you believe that Ovechkin might not make it.
And then you remember just how automatic No. 8 really is.
He reached 50 on Saturday thanks to a hat trick, and he didn’t need an empty net to do it. Check out his third goal of the evening in GIF form, with video of the trio to be added soon enough:
To little surprise, he’s made some history:
The “Shanaplan” continues to come together for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After getting pummeled in their season finale to the New Jersey Devils, the Maple Leafs “locked down” the final standings spot in the NHL for 2015-16.
This gives them the best odds at getting the top pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, whether that means that the Leafs would grab Auston Matthews or a different high-end prospect.
The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle spells out what it all means in more detail:
Expect more on draft lottery odds later on, but the bottom line is that the Maple Leafs continue their rebuild in an impressive way (albeit with the cognitive dissonance that comes with absorbing some humbling defeats).
Even Mike Babcock acknowledged the writing on the wall.
This might be one of those situations where people use the 20/20 vision of hindsight to question why a player was in the lineup during a “meaningless” game.
Some might complain louder thanks to what’s been a somewhat bumpy season for Tyler Johnson, sometimes for injury reasons.
Of course, the counterargument is that Johnson needs to get his confidence going heading into the playoffs, as the Tampa Bay Lightning would need a focused forward against the Detroit Red Wings.
(Not to mention the possible “You can’t sit everyone” retort …)
However you feel about the decision to suit him up, the Lightning need to cross their fingers after Johnson was shaken up by a frightful fall, which you can see in the video above.
He won’t be back tonight against the Montreal Canadiens:
But that only tells us so much. Perhaps the team will elaborate on his condition beyond tonight, but considering the circumstances, it may take quite a bit longer to get a better feel for what Johnson is dealing with.
The Anaheim Ducks might spend a night as Winnipeg Jets fans.
They’ll do some scoreboard-watching on Saturday night after defeating the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 5-3.
With this win, the Ducks have 101 standings points on the season and Sunday’s contest against the Washington Capitals to go. It remains to be seen if that will mean anything, however.
That’s because the Los Angeles Kings still hold tiebreaker advantages over Anaheim that would make an additional Ducks victory meaningless … if they can beat the Jets tonight.
Here’s how the two teams currently stand:
Kings: 48-28-5, one game remaining (tonight vs. Jets), 101 points, 46 ROW
Ducks: 45-25-11, one game remaining (Sunday vs. Caps), 101 points, 42 ROW
Hey, for all of the disdain that shootouts and charity points gain, it’s kind of nice that the Kings at least have the potential to be rewarded for getting more “real” wins … right?
(Ducks fans are nodding hard enough to hurt their necks right now.)
The Detroit Red Wings fell in a first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning last season as the Bolts made their way to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.
That’s not to say the Red Wings were a mere road bump during that journey, though.
The Lightning rode a Ben Bishop shutout in a Game 7 to squeak by the Red Wings last season, and this coming matchup might not be any easier.
In fact, it’s tough to forecast a favorite as of this very moment. On one hand, you have a Lightning team that’s been positively pulverized by injuries. On the other, you have a struggling Red Wings squad that wobbled a bit down the stretch.
Either way, there’s a good chance we’ll see some quality hockey, and maybe a shot of Steve Yzerman or twenty.
Related: We also know it will be Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Update: It’s reportedly going to begin on Wednesday. Will Tyler Johnson be healthy by then?