The West’s next round is now set (and wide-open)


Saturday was a great day for fans of brevity and revenge.

Three of a possible three series ended on this day, with the Rangers dispatching the Canadiens, the Blues eliminating the “better” Wild, and the Oilers knocking off the Sharks in six.

The Rangers await either the Bruins or Senators and the Penguins face the winner of the Leafs – Capitals series out East, but we now know how the West shakes out.

St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Both teams provided some of the upsets of this young postseason. Each features a red-hot goalie in Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. Interesting.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

There will be a lot of orange. We may also see a ton of goals with Ryan Getzlaf on fire, Oscar Klefbom headlining the list of unhealthy players and Connor McDavid possibly able to really take off against a Ducks defense that is beat up in its own right.

It’s already been a strange season out West, with the Kings missing the playoffs and first-round exits for the Sharks and Blackhawks. Get ready – and giddy – for things to get even weirder as the postseason goes along.

Oilers win first series since 2006 after Sharks fall crossbar short of overtime


After making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t just “happy to be there.” They confirmed as much by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 victory in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.

Yes, those young Oilers just eliminated the team that represented the West in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Wow.

Ultimately, winning the breakaway battle in the second period indeed made the difference. Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored on their chances in the middle frame while Patrick Marleau could not; Slepyshev’s 2-0 goal ultimately became the series-clincher.

Now, that’s not to say that Marleau was a drag on San Jose. If this is it for one of the faces of the franchise, he had a great 2016-17, including generating the Sharks’ final goal of the postseason.

The Shark Tank was alive after Marleau reduced the Oilers’ lead to 2-1, and more than a few blood pressures rose – both in Edmonton and San Jose – after the Sharks got this close to tying things up.


With this result, the West is set. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators while the Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks.

As much as people try to put the training wheels on Connor McDavid & Co., the West is wide-open enough that it’s not so outrageous to imagine a big run for Edmonton.

Beating the Sharks is a pretty nice way of adding an exclamation point to that statement win. And hey … they beat the Sharks last time around, too.

Video: Draisaitl, Slepyshev score on breakaways, Talbot spurns Marleau

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Some playoff games or even series come down to something as stupidly simple as one team taking advantage of their opportunities while the other fails to capitalize on chances.

If Game 6 of the Oilers – Sharks series follows the story of the second period, then San Jose may join Saturday’s stream of eliminated teams.

It’s not fair to boil it down to three breakaways, but some might feel that way.

Leon Draisaitl looked like a gritty, strong veteran during his first career playoff goal, bulling his way to the net for 1-0 breakaway tally. About a minute later, Anton Slepyshev was even more alone against Martin Jones, and he scored his first postseason goal to make it 2-0.

That stings for the Sharks, and it doesn’t help that they had a similar chance not long after. This time around, Patrick Marleau couldn’t beat Cam Talbot, so it remained 2-0 for Edmonton.

That’s the same score as the game enters the third period, even with some dangerous late chances for the Sharks.

If the Sharks don’t score at least two goals in the third, their push to return to the Stanley Cup Final could end in the first round.

WATCH LIVE: Three Stanley Cup Playoff games for April 22


Two teams (the Montreal Canadiens and San Jose Sharks) are playing to force a Game 7 on Saturday, while the Minnesota Wild are looking to extend their first-round series to a sixth game against the St. Louis Blues.

All three games are on the NBC networks and online via our Live Stream.

Here is all of the important information you need.

St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild

Time: 3:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)

New York Rangers vs. Montreal Canadiens

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)

Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks

Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream Online Here)

Bobrovsky, Holtby and Price named 2017 Vezina finalists


The NHL announced the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy on Saturday: Sergei Bobrovsky, Braden Holtby and Carey Price.

Each goalie has one Vezina to his name, with Holtby aiming for back-to-back wins. Here’s a quick look at their stats in 2016-17:

Bobrovsky: 41 wins (third), 63 games played, 41-17-5, .931 save percentage, 2.06 GAA and seven shutouts

Holtby: 42 wins (tied for first), 63 GP, 42-13-6, .925 save percentage, 2.07 GAA and nine shutouts.

Price: 37 wins (tied for fifth), 62 GP, 37-20-5, .923 save percentage, 2.23 GAA and three shutouts.

The league’s GMs vote on the Vezina, for what it’s worth.

This continues a tough night for Devan Dubnyk, who ranks as one of the leading choices among goalies who failed to become a nominee. He had 40 wins and a .923 save percentage, but may have been penalized for a weak finish.

Cam Talbot was a workhorse for Edmonton, tying Holtby for 42 wins while easily leading the NHL in saves (1,946) and save attempts (2,117). His wins and workload would help his cause, but perhaps GMs knocked his .919 save percentage from a “quality vs. quantity” standpoint.

Bobrovsky seems like the frontrunner on paper with that .931 save percentage, but then again, it may come down to the stats league executives weigh the most.