Obvious comment time: Game 2 was good to Jeff Carter and the playoffs have been great to the Los Angeles Kings. In fact, the team and the player made a little history tonight.
Carter came into Tuesday with one goal but generated a hat trick, the first playoff one of his NHL career. That wasn’t the only thing historic about it, either, as Frank Seravalli points out that it was the Kings’ first playoff hat trick since Wayne Gretzky scored one in 1993. The always-fun Kings Twitter feed points out that Carter now has more goals in the Western Conference finals (three) than the Coyotes (two).
Meanwhile, the Kings’ road prowess continues. They’re now 7-0 on the road in this year’s playoffs and are 9-0 since 2011, which ties the New York Islanders’ NHL record. Lou Korac points out that the Kings haven’t been down in a game since Game 1 … of the St. Louis Blues series. That’s not a record, but it is a jaw-dropper.
That’s impressive stuff, but the Kings don’t have to worry that much about the series shifting to the Staples Center, where they’re still a respectable 3-1 this year. Perhaps they can continue to advance the subjective and not-really-stats-based argument that they might be the best eighth seed in NHL history.
If you’re the type who loves to exclaim “free hockey” whenever overtime rolls around, then the first round of the 2012 playoffs has been a treat. In fact, it’s been a historically good time to roll out that meme, as Game 7 of the New Jersey Devils-Florida Panthers series was the 16th game to go to OT – setting a new record for the first round.
While there have been a few series that haven’t been tooth-and-nail battles, plenty of records for close games have been broken.
Off the top of my head, the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals generated the first series in which all seven contests were decided by a single goal. Meanwhile, the first five games of the Phoenix Coyotes-Chicago Blackhawks series went to overtime, becoming just the second series to do so.
Ultimately, it only makes sense that the Philadelphia Flyers will need to wait that much longer to find out which team they’ll face in the second round.
Martin Brodeur owns the all-time shutout records, but for single-season deals, the Phoenix Coyotes are filling up the record books. Brian Boucher became the unlikely record holder for the league’s modern shutout streak at a whopping 332 minutes in 2003 while Mike Smith made the most saves (54) in any regulation shutout on Tuesday. That goose egg was just the historical exclamation point on a great three-game shutout streak that continues into Thursday, so it only makes sense that NHL.com’s Jerry Brown decided to compare the two.
Here are some of the highlights from Brown’s findings:
- Despite needing two more shutouts (and more than 100 minutes worth of scoreless time) to pass Boucher, Smith has amazingly already made more saves (157) during his streak than Boucher (147) did during his.
- To put that run in perspective – and raise Dave Tippett’s blood pressure – Smith has faced 45.3 shots per game in the last three contests, so it’s not exactly like he’s easing into those shutouts.
- That trio gives Smith eight shutouts on the season, tying a Coyotes franchise record.
- Let’s not forget that his great run is coming when Phoenix needs it the most. The Coyotes aren’t yet guaranteed a playoff spot, but if they end up in the postseason for the third straight year, it’ll be because they’re so tough to score on. Credit Tippett all you want but Smith is worthy of praise.
Speaking of praise, Tippett gushed about his goalie, even if he isn’t ecstatic about the defense in front of him.
“Smitty’s been unbelievable. Time after time, he’s made big saves for us and it’s been an incredible run,” Tippett said. “But this is three games in a row now. Right now, thinking about (winning) the division should be an afterthought. If we’re going to have any chance at all, we have to play better as a group. A lot of other guys need to jump in. We have to dig a little deeper. We’re going to have to figure out some things, like lineup changes.”
Perhaps Sean Burke deserves a portion of the credit for the Coyotes not even missing a beat – if not getting stronger – in net after Ilya Bryzgalov’s high-profile departure.
Whenever Smith’s streak ends, it’ll likely be an impressive achievement – and he might just make a little more history in the process.
After falling a game short of the Stanley Cup finals in 2011, the Tampa Bay Lightning were officially eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. As you probably know, not much has gone well. Their defense fell apart – literally and figuratively. Vincent Lecavalier dealt with another extended injury and Dwayne Roloson showed his age worse than Kathleen Turner this season.
Aside from the clockwork-like productivity of Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos has been far and away the bright spot for the Lightning in 2011-12. He already set a new franchise mark for goals in one season and now he broke an NHL record, as Stamkos collected his fifth OT tally of the season on Saturday.
“When you think of how long the NHL has been around, to have a record to call my own, at least for now, is amazing,” Stamkos said. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought about scoring this many goals in a season and setting a record for the most overtime goals. Obviously I’d have loved to do this in a season where we were competing for a Stanley Cup.”
It’s still quite the interesting accomplishment – and evidence that other NHL teams might want to avoid playing against the Lightning in 4-on-4 situations in the future.
Check it out below:
With his special season in mind, I have to ask: is Stamkos the least-discussed superstar in the NHL right now? You just don’t hear his name often in “best in the world” discussions, and aside from his team’s sorry state and non-traditional market, I can see any clear reason why.
(It’s probably because of those two things.)
The Red Wings are looking to hit a number that’s good for blackjack tonight.
If Detroit beats the Dallas Stars tonight at Joe Louis Arena, they’ll make it 21 straight wins at home. After beating Philadelphia on Sunday, the Red Wings have gone over three months without losing on home ice.
There hasn’t been a home winning streak like this since the Philadelphia Flyers pulled it off in the mid-70s and then only one time before that with the Bruins during the 1930s. Of course, with Detroit winning three of their 20 games in a row via the shootout, some are eager to pooh-pooh the Red Wings’ run thanks to the shootout being a virtual coin flip.
Rather than pile on about what’s legitimate and what isn’t, let’s just take a look at it for what it is: An incredible run of success the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 35 years. Regardless of the rules whether games ended after regulation, in overtime with ties, or settled by a shootout, winning 20 in a row at home and pushing for more is something that’s rarer than rare.
Only three teams ever have pushed a home winning streak this far and with parity being rampant in the league, who knows when we’ll get to see a run like this again. Shootout or not, this makes for a historic run by the Wings.
The NHL Overtime crew debated whether or not they thought the Red Wings’ streak was legit, have a look.