NHL Playoff Vibe Check: Hurricanes, Islanders with strong starts

Welcome to the NHL Playoff Vibe Check, where we ask the question: is the vibe good?

There are eight series to begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with all underway except the North Division thus far as they wrap up regular-season shenanigans in Canada.

We can begin to ask about the vibes though, because there’s never a bad time for a vibe check.

Boston Bruins

The vibe: Relief

Energy check: Taylor Swift’s “The 1”

Taylor Hall wanted to play for a contending team, and after two playoff games he’s in the thick of things. He sent the Bruins to overtime on Monday night where they eventually won Game 2 to head home in a series tie.

Washington Capitals

The vibe: Kind of sus

Energy check: I think I’ve seen this film before

Washington easily could have a 2-0 lead right now. They didn’t capitalize on a few frustrated Bruins penalties in Game 2, and didn’t hold on at the end. They’ve now dealt with two overtimes and go on the road for the next two.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The vibe: Hmmm

Energy check: That one annoyed penguin meme

It’s early in the series, the Penguins are still the favorites. Evgeni Malkin presumably will be back. Tristan Jarry didn’t look his best in Game 1. A frustrating start all around but not time to freak out yet.

New York Islanders

The vibe: Cautiously optimistic

Energy check: Kyle Palmieri‘s beard

The Bruins aren’t the only team reaping the benefits of a strong trade deadline. Palmieri scored twice, including the overtime winner, to give the Islanders an early advantage on the road. Remember, there was a point when it looked like the Islanders would win the East. They’re dangerous.

Carolina Hurricanes

The vibe: Storming

Energy check: Honey, you’ve got a big storm coming

Game 1 against the Predators went about as expected. Carolina had it throughout, even when Nashville tied it late in the second period. How about the energy in Raleigh, too? This feels like it would be Hurricanes in 3 if that was allowed.

Nashville Predators

The vibe: Bad

Energy check: That’s so 2017

Nashville’s era has been heading to an end, and it doesn’t feel like they’ll have much success these playoffs. Juuse Saros did what he could in Game 1 with the Hurricanes, but they are clearly outmatched.

Florida Panthers

The vibe: Solid

Energy check: Not your millennial’s Panthers

A loss in Game 1 isn’t the end of the world. The Lightning are scary as heck, and the Panthers were competitive in the thrilling first edition of the Battle of Florida. They have something there, but going back home down 0-2 would be tough to come back from.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

The vibe: Electric

Energy check: Why, what happened?

Turns out Nikita Kucherov can sit out an entire season and then show up in the most intense game of the entire season and score twice. Who knew? The Lightning, as it turns out, are still as dangerous as anyone, even against a strong Florida squad.

Vegas Golden Knights

The vibe: It’s fine, guys

Energy check: Vegas Lights by Panic! at the Disco

While yes, there’s a lot of hype for the Wild, this is the worst possible matchup the Golden Knights could have gotten, they are down 1-0…. they were still a game away from being a Presidents’ Trophy team, they are still a Stanley Cup favorite. No reason for the Golden Knights to panic just yet.

Minnesota Wild

The vibe: Wild

Energy check: Kirill the Thrill

The dark horse of the NHL playoffs are off to a solid start. There’s a reason a lot of people picked them as an upset against the Golden Knights; they match up well. With a 1-0 lead and a guaranteed at least split before going to dominant home ice, they’re in a good spot.

Colorado Avalanche

The vibe: Excellent

Energy check: Ballin’ (arena)

There is a reason the Avalanche are considered the best team in the NHL: they probably are. The Avs put 50 shots on net in Game 1 with the Blues and took a 4-1 win, notched a Gordie Howe Hat Trick from their captain, and the defense looked great. Honestly, their vibes are undefeated.

St. Louis Blues

The vibe: Well, blue

Energy check: Not 2019 anymore

For the first half of Game 1, it looked like playoff Jordan Binnington was back. Turns out, that’s not good enough against the 2020-21 Avalanche.

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Toronto Maple Leafs

The vibe: Tense

Energy check: What could go wrong?

Toronto has extremely high expectations this time around, fully expected to tear through the North and into the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. Their first test is a Montreal team they should beat, so clearly everyone in Canada will be well-reasoned and calm about all of it.

Montreal Canadiens

The vibe: No pressure

Energy check: Hockey Twitter trolls

No one expects Montreal to win the series with Toronto, but what if they do? Not only the most chaotic postseason possibility but objectively the one that will blow up Hockey Twitter the most.

Edmonton Oilers

The vibe: Expectations high

Energy check: TBD?

Edmonton should beat Winnipeg. Everyone seems to be looking ahead to their near inevitable series with the Leafs. But wouldn’t it be so Oilers if they just got knocked out in the first round.

Winnipeg Jets

The vibe: Soarin’, Flyin’

Energy check: Goats?

Forget what might happen in the next couple of weeks, Mark Schiefele’s goats will unite the NHL.

Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.

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    Hughes has first NHL hat trick, Devils beat Capitals 5-1

    Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    NEWARK, N.J. – Jack Hughes had his first career NHL hat trick, Vitek Vanecek made 38 saves against his former team and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Saturday for coach Lindy Ruff’s 800th victory.

    “It’s exciting,” Hughes said. “Couple of two-goal games in my career, so nice to cap it off with the third one tonight.”

    Ruff became the fifth NHL coach to reach the 800-victory mark. The former Buffalo player won 571 games with the Sabres from 1997-2011. He had 165 wins in five seasons with Dallas and has 64 in two-plus seasons with New Jersey.

    “It means I’ve been around a long time,” Ruff cracked. “Great to win the game. Again, you got to do a lot of right things, have good teams, and the way our team is playing I have to give them a lot of credit for getting me there.”

    The Atlantic Division-leading Devils have won two in a row after seeing their franchise-record 13-game winning streak snapped by Toronto.

    Devils captain Nico Hischier and Fabian Zetterlund also scored.

    John Carlson scored for Washington and Charlie Lindgren made 24 saves.

    “Not scoring goals, not capitalizing on our chances,” Carlson said. “We’ve had our chances, especially today, but we only walked away with one goal. We could have had five or six. It’s just not going in right now.”

    Vanecek, meanwhile, was hoping for the shutout against a familiar foe.

    “That would have been nice, but that’s hockey,” Vanecek said, “For sure you’re trying, but not every time; the win is more important.”

    Hischier opened up the scoring with his 10th goal of the season midway through the first period on a power play after Alexander Ovechkin was called for slashing.

    Hughes wrapped the puck around goalie Lindgren’s right leg and the goal post to put the Devils up 2-0 5:59 into the second period. Hughes appeared to have lost his angle on the goal when he ripped a shot off Lindgren’s face mask and into the net midway through the period for his 10th goal of the season to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead.

    The 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick added his third midway through the third period as hats rained down on the ice with New Jersey up 4-0.

    “You want to continue to play the right way, but if an opportunity comes you want to definitely put it in the back of the net with authority,” Hughes said. “So tonight, I was able to cap it off and it was nice.”

    Fabian Zetterlund capped the scoring for New Jersey late in the third period.

    NOTES: The Devils improved to 16-0-0 this season when Hischier has a point. New Jersey’s Nathan Bastain (upper body) did not return after the first period. . Ovechkin is still nine goals away from 800 and 11 from passing Gordie Howe for second place on the NHL goals list.


    Capitals: At Vancouver on Tuesday night.

    Devils: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.


    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).


    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.