Thursday’s top NHL players
Patrice Bergeron, Bruins
The Lightning had a chance to clinch the third spot in the Atlantic, thus relegating the Bruins to the East’s first Wild Card spot. Instead, the Lightning lost to the Blue Jackets (even while dressing some key players) while the Bruins scorched the Sabres.
Patrice Bergeron played a big role in said scorching, scoring four points on a hat trick and an assist.
This marks the eighth hat trick of Bergeron’s career. It’s his second this season, and third since 2021. Remarkably, Bergeron’s collected seven of his eight career hat tricks since 2018. Seems like a nice time to mention that Bergeron should be a runaway Selke Trophy winner this season. Bergeron reached 400+ goals on his career, too.
HAT TRICK FOR BERGERON 🎩🎩🎩 Not to mention his 400th career goal 😏 pic.twitter.com/mRfYJuYyLq
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) April 29, 2022
(Bergeron’s basically aging as well as Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul.)
Thursday NHL highlights
This scrumptious Roman Josi goal helped the Predators rally to eventually beat the Avalanche, which clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the Panthers.
It's too bad the field of players who should be up for the Hart Trophy is already so deep because Roman Josi's so valuable to the Predators. pic.twitter.com/XNqUApKjom
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 29, 2022
Johnny Gaudreau hit another first as he keeps adding to his Hart Trophy resume. Already (comfortably) over 100 points for the first time in his career, Gaudreau reached 40 goals for the first time. Fittingly, Matthew Tkachuk beautifully assisted on Gaudreau’s 40th goal:
Speaking of reaching that 40-goal mark, David Pastrnak did it for the second time in his career:
Second career 40-goal campaign for 88 ✅ pic.twitter.com/XdVoLZxdYu
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 29, 2022
Tremendous goal from the AHL’s Laval Rocket; a great pass, and then Brandon Gignac with the outstanding finish.
HOLY HELL BRANDON GIGNAC ARE YOU SERIOUS?!
Laval ties it up 4-4!! pic.twitter.com/XTd1Ng2P8Y
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) April 29, 2022
Noah Gregor scored two goals just 26 seconds apart.
Enjoy a couple of tasty kick/foot/skate saves from goalies:
Sensing a theme.. 🧐 pic.twitter.com/KDsYLBOLHw
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) April 29, 2022
Thursday NHL Takeaways
Dustin Brown decides to retire after Kings’ playoff run
Read up on the longtime Los Angeles Kings forward who was a master at drawing penalties (among other things).
Panthers win Presidents’ Trophy after Avalanche lose to Predators
The Presidents’ Trophy race could have bled into Friday’s NHL games, but the Panthers instead locked it up on Thursday. The Panthers did so by cruising past the Senators, then watched as the Predators rallied to beat the Avalanche in a shootout.
Other NHL playoff picture updates: More to be settled after missed opportunities
While the stakes mainly boiled down to “which of the rich would get richer?,” there were still some Thursday games with NHL playoff positioning implications. Generally, the results mean there will also be Friday games with similar implications.
- Again, the Lightning failed to clinch the third seed in the Atlantic Division after losing and seeing the Bruins win.
- By beating the Avalanche, the Predators finished Thursday a point ahead of the Stars in one of the remaining NHL races: the battle for the West’s first Wild Card spot. As a reminder, the first West wild card faces the Flames, while the second one takes on the Avalanche. (Clearly, not an easy task either way.)
- Instead of gaining an advantage over the Penguins for the third Metropolitan Division spot, the Capitals lost to the Islanders. The idle Penguins have a one point lead over the Capitals, with both teams set to play during the Friday NHL action.
Juuse Saros update not promising for the Predators; Ovechkin missing more time
As is the custom, the Predators didn’t provide much concrete information about the health of crucial goalie Juuse Saros. It doesn’t sound promising, though.
Things also remain murky for Alex Ovechkin as the Capitals jockey for positioning with the Penguins.
Click here for more on Saros and Ovechkin.
Some fallout from Golden Knights missing the playoffs
Friday’s big NHL story
The virtual last day of the 2021-22 regular season lacks must-win games, but there’s plenty to be decided
As you saw in that NHL playoff update in the Thursday takeaways section, teams had the opportunity to sap any last bit of drama out of Friday’s games. While the Panthers locked down the Presidents’ Trophy from the Avalanche, there’s still NHL playoff seeding to be determined.
- The Penguins hope to put the finishing touches on grabbing the Atlantic third seed by beating the Blue Jackets, or at least getting a point. Meanwhile, the Capitals face a team that already clinched the Metro 2 spot: the Rangers.
- Similarly, the third seed in the Atlantic remains up for grabs between the Lightning (vs. Islanders) and the Bruins (vs. Maple Leafs). There’s even the parallel of the Maple Leafs possibly facing their first-round opponent if the Bruins were to surpass the Lightning.
- Will it be the Predators who will remain the West’s first wild-card seed (and thus, the Flames’ opponent) and hold the Stars to the second WC (partnering Dallas up with the Avalanche)? Friday’s NHL games will also answer those questions.
Frankly, all of these teams should also debate the potential rewards of better playoff seeding with the risks of injuries. When it comes to health, you can only control so much, but it’s a serious gamble to lean on your workhorses when you’ve already clinched a playoff spot, and it’s the last “real” day of the NHL season.
(Sorry for disparaging your Sunday makeup game, Kraken and Jets.)
Tampa Bay will clinch the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division (and an A2-A3 First Round matchup vs. Toronto) and Boston will clinch the Wild Card 1 seed (and an M1-WC1 First Round matchup vs. Carolina):
* If Tampa Bay defeats NY Islanders in any fashion
* If Tampa Bay gets one point vs. NY Islanders AND Toronto defeats Boston in any fashion
* If Toronto defeats Boston in regulation.
Boston will clinch the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division (and an A2-A3 First Round matchup vs. Toronto) and Tampa Bay will clinch the Wild Card 1 seed (and an M1-WC1 First Round matchup vs. Carolina):
* If Boston defeats Toronto in any fashion AND NY Islanders defeat Tampa Bay in any fashion
* If Boston gets one point vs. Toronto AND NY Islanders defeat Tampa Bay in regulation.
Pittsburgh will clinch the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan Division (and an M2-M3 First Round matchup vs. NY Rangers) and Washington will clinch the Wild Card 2 seed (and an A1-WC2 First Round matchup vs. Florida):
* If Pittsburgh gets at least one point vs. Columbus
* If NY Rangers defeat Washington in any fashion.
Washington will clinch the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan Division (and an M2-M3 First Round matchup vs. NY Rangers) and Pittsburgh will clinch the Wild Card 2 seed (and an A1-WC2 First Round matchup vs. Florida):
* If Washington defeats NY Rangers in any fashion AND Columbus defeats Pittsburgh in regulation.
Minnesota will clinch the No. 2 seed in the Central Division (and home-ice advantage in the C2-C3 First Round matchup vs. St. Louis):
* If Minnesota gets at least one point vs. Colorado
* If Vegas defeats St. Louis in any fashion.
St. Louis will clinch the No. 2 seed in the Central Division (and home-ice advantage in the C2-C3 First Round matchup vs. Minnesota):
* If St. Louis defeats Vegas in any fashion AND Colorado defeats Minnesota in regulation.
Nashville will clinch the Wild Card 1 seed (and a P1-WC1 First Round matchup vs. Calgary) and Dallas will clinch the Wild Card 2 seed (and a C1-WC2 First Round matchup vs. Colorado):
* If Nashville gets at least one point vs. Arizona
* If Anaheim defeats Dallas in any fashion.
Dallas will clinch the Wild Card 1 seed (and a P1-WC1 First Round matchup vs. Calgary) and Nashville will clinch the Wild Card 2 seed (and a C1-WC2 First Round matchup vs. Colorado):
* If Dallas defeats Anaheim in any fashion AND Arizona defeats Nashville in regulation.
Thursday NHL scores
Bruins 5, Sabres 0
Panthers 4, Senators 0
Hurricanes 6, Devils 3
Blue Jackets 5, Lightning 2
Islanders 5, Capitals 1
Wild 3, Flames 2 (OT)
Predators 5, Avalanche 4 (SO)
Oilers 5, Sharks 4 (OT)
Canucks 3, Kings 2 (OT)