The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.
• The Sabres won the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery, and thus the No. 1 pick. The Seattle Kraken landed the second choice.
• Will Mark Scheifele be suspended for his hit on Jake Evans?
• Either way, the Second Round is now fully in swing; if the Lightning can win Game 3 on Thursday, then the Hurricanes will be the first team to face elimination in this round.
Heading into their Second Round series, hardcore hockey observers viewed Hurricanes – Lightning as a battle of “quality vs. quantity.” It’s not a unique phenomenon in the NHL; at minimum, you could also describe Jets – Canadiens that way, and that’s in the Second Round alone.
While those comparisons can sometimes feel extreme, the general theme rings true. The Lightning have manufactured just enough chances for their elite players to make the difference against the hailstorm of Hurricanes chances.
Vegas and the Hurricanes pic.twitter.com/IvJBxLEP4H
— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) June 3, 2021
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Second Round schedule, TV info]
As noted at NHL.com, some credit goes to Tampa Bay’s defense. When you haven’t allowed an even-strength goal through two games, you’re doing something right. So far, when the potentially dynamic duo of Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov have been on the ice, the Hurricanes have only generated four high-danger scoring chances at even-strength.
Again, limiting the quality, even if it means sometimes-scary portions of that quantity.
[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
But that delicate balance can be thrown off if your goalie isn’t on task. Instead, Andrei Vasilevskiy continues to maintain his all-world work, a run that might end up with another Vezina Trophy, not to mention some team hardware.
From what goaltending legend Ken Dryden told Joe Smith of the Athletic (sub. required), Vasilevskiy might be the sort of goalie who can get in your head.
“He’s imposing,” Dryden said. “That’s something you notice right away. You’re always needing to deliver a message to your opponent. If you can deliver a message that you’re a formidable presence in net, you’re on your way, and (Vasilevskiy) appears to have that.”
With Game 3 taking place in Tampa Bay on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; USA Network), Carolina could be in a fragile place. The house could be rocking, and that confidence might really start to sag if Vasilevskiy is sharp early.
“Getting to” Vasilevskiy is easier said than done, but one way or another, the Hurricanes need to start doing more of that, starting in Game 3.
THURSDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Game 3: Bruins at Islanders, 7:30 p.m. ET (Series tied 1-1) – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 3: Hurricanes at Lightning, 8 p.m ET (TB leads 2-0) – USA (livestream)
FRIDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Game 2: Canadiens at Jets, 7:30 p.m. ET (MTL leads 1-0) – USA Network (livestream)
Game 3: Avalanche at Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET (COL leads 2-0) – NBCSN (livestream)
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.