The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.
• Catch up with all of Monday’s Stanley Cup Playoff action with the NHL Rink Wrap.
• The Presidents’ Trophy winners are done after the Lightning swept the Panthers.
• Via the Associated Press: the NHL and St. Louis police were looking into threats made toward Nazem Kadri following the Jordan Binnington collision and heading into Game 4. In the meantime, Kadri took over Game 4, and the Blues are on the brink.
No doubt about it, Connor McDavid has been the top story of the Flames – Oilers series, and the main reason Edmonton leads 2-1.
Just ask Flames players like Rasmus Andersson and Matthew Tkachuk. Both more or less said that the Flames let “one” player (McDavid) beat them, and indicated they need to find answers in Game 4 (9:30 p.m. ET).
“They’ve got one player that plays half the game and is playing some great hockey right now,” Tkachuk said.
But it’s all too easy to forget the one person in the Oilers net: Mike Smith. At least when Milan Lucic isn’t knocking Smith over.
Maybe you’re fixated on McDavid playing at an incredible level. Perhaps you can’t help but harp on that gaffe from Game 1 against the Kings. Whatever the case may be, it’s time to take notice. Smith’s put together an impressive playoff run so far. And, really, he probably deserves more credit for his larger postseason resume.
While Jake Oettinger‘s incredible First Round work against the Stars stands tallest, note that Smith makes it on the list for his series against the Kings.
We'll need to process the data tonight to confirm, but it appears Oettinger now has the highest Goals Saved Above Expected for any goalie in a playoff series since 2007. Truly historic. pic.twitter.com/VZ9Hh8D4KU
— Evolving-Hockey (@EvolvingHockey) May 16, 2022
Deeper underlying stats like those can add layers of praise. But you can go with the simpler stats, too. Even considering how the Flames and Oilers got off to a high-scoring start, Smith’s 2021-22 playoff stats are pristine, including a tremendous .933 save percentage.
Through the first three games, Smith is giving the Oilers a goalie edge over more-ballyhooed Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom.
Goals Saved Above Expected Leaders (Playoffs) – May 23 pic.twitter.com/EPUci50cCQ
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) May 23, 2022
Go ahead, wonder if 40-year-old Mike Smith is too old to be a positive difference-maker. Compare his confidence to that of Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite.” But don’t overlook his strong start.
[NHL Power Rankings: 2021-22 surprises]
Impressively, Smith’s overall playoff save percentage (.931 over 39 games) falls in the same range as his stellar mark for this specific run.
Memorably, Smith carried a flawed 2011-12 Coyotes team to a Western Conference Final with a blistering .944 save percentage.
That’s the sort of run that may inspire, say, then-Coyotes and now-former-Oilers coach Dave Tippett to believe a bit too much in a goalie. Yet, times like these make you realize that Tippett and others weren’t totally outrageous in seeing something in Smith. Even at an advanced age.
Even look back at the Oilers’ ill-fated sweep against the Jets last postseason. While Smith wasn’t perfect (nine goals allowed in the final two games), Smith battled. He made 32 saves or more in the last three contests, as the Oilers likely asked too much from him.
Chances are, Smith will face other low points through the rest of the Oilers’ playoff run. The Flames absolutely have the talent (and the puck-hogging tendency) to cool off the Mike Smith appreciation starting as early as Game 4 on Tuesday.
Nonetheless, it’s already a remarkable accomplishment to perform at this level, at his age. Goalies are a tricky lot to forecast, and sometimes that means they have more gas left in the tank than most of us realized.
NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY
Game 4: Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET – ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports (CAR leads 2-1): The Rangers gained their first win of the series, and the Hurricanes left Gerard Gallant fuming with how that game finished. So, there’s some violence, and some anger. There’s also some goalie intrigue. While Igor Shesterkin looked very much in prime form, Frederik Andersen may finally suit up for the Hurricanes in the playoffs. Is he truly ready, and would Antti Raanta deserve another shot anyway? There’s plenty to watch in this one, and we’ll see if this series goes long, thus allowing the Lightning to gain some crucial rest.
Game 4: Calgary Flames at Edmonton Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET – Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN (EDM leads 2-1)
PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
• Hurricanes vs. Rangers
• Avalanche vs. Blues
• Flames vs. Oilers
• Makar, McDavid lead Conn Smythe watch after First Round
• NHL Second Round predictions