Hockey players tend to fight through grueling injuries all season long, but with the playoffs in motion, it’s time for them to really shake off some scary stuff.
Ignoring players shaking off injuries heading into Game 1, Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher might be the first truly impressive tough guy, as he didn’t miss much time after taking a puck to the throat:
The Tampa Bay Lightning grabbed home-ice advantage over the Montreal Canadiens thanks to a shootout win (1-0 via “the skills competition”) against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
It seems like a fitting victory in a number of ways. For one thing, the gap between the Lightning and Canadiens has been razor-thin this season; the Lightning won three of the four meetings, but most came down to the wire. The Bolts won 2-1 (SO) in Montreal on Nov. 12, the Habs won 2-1 (SO) in Tampa Bay on Dec. 28, the Lightning won 2-1 (OT) on the road on Feb. 1 and Tampa Bay closed out the only regulation win between the two by a score of 3-1 at home on April 1.
The loss was also fitting for the Capitals. Washington participated in an NHL-record 21 shootouts in 2013-14, going 10-11 in that regard. (Place “What if the Caps mastered the shootout instead of being merely average in that regard?” on the team’s pile of “What if?” questions.)
Amid a week of turmoil for the Lightning with Ben Bishop’s injury and Ryan Malone’s arrest, the Bolts must feel heartened to see strong play from Anders Lindback. He’s now a three-game winning streak with two shutouts, only only two goals in that span (stopping 77 out of 79 shots).
The towering 25-year-old still sports an ugly 8-12-2 record and poor individual stats over the long haul of this season, but the Lightning need him to play at his highest level against a Montreal team that clearly seems capable of pushing them in this upcoming first-round series.
It might’ve been entertaining for the fans, but not for Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock.
The Red Wings came out on the losing end of a 5-4 final score against the Montreal Canadiens in an Original Six match up on Thursday. Sure, goals are fun for those watching. The two teams combined for five in a wild third period, too.
But Babcock has a different opinion, especially considering his team was trying to breakaway from a four-team pack all vying for that final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
“When you start chasing the game like we were tonight, anything can happen. It’s entertaining and all that for the fans but it’s not a recipe for success whatsoever,” Babcock said afterward, as per video on the Detroit Free Press website.
The Red Wings missed out on an opportunity to jump ahead into sole possession of the top Wild Card spot in the East, ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Instead, they remain part of the four-team logjam that also includes the Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs at 80 points. There are only the two Wild Card spots available, so there’s no room for error.