NHLN Playoff Notebook: Datsyuk’s Last Game (Maybe), An Ugly Double Overtime Goal, and Malkin’s Chemistry

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 2:33 am by Cam Lewis

The Tampa Bay Lightning knocked out the Detroit Red Wings for the second consecutive year, and on a side note, it could be the last time we see Pavel Datsyuk play in an NHL game, which obviously isn’t the nicest way for a player to finish his career. The Chicago Blackhawks kept themselves alive with a really ugly goal in a double overtime that sparked questions about why exactly the league would start a game at 8:30 P.M. Central Time. Evgeni Malkin, despite ruining all the chemistry, pounded the crap out of the New York Rangers to make up for the fact that he singlehandedly messed up the Penguins’ second game of the series with his lack of regard for team chemistry. Oh yeah, and the Nashville Predators might be on their way to losing a playoff series after being up 2-0 for the first time in franchise history. 

Lightning 1 — Red Wings 0 

Well, if there was ever a way for Pavel Datsyuk to put an exclamation point on his incredible NHL career, this sure as hell wasn’t it. The Lightning knocked the Red Wings out of the playoffs for the second consecutive year last night with a 1-0 win. And as you might have guessed, judging by the score, Datsyuk was kept off the scoreboard, meaning he went the entire series without registering a point. So, yeah. If this does end up being his last showing with the Wings (he apparently hasn’t made up his mind about that yet), it wasn’t a very nice way to go out. 

Anyways, the Red Wings probably deserved a better fate in yesterday’s game than the one they ended up with. They outshot the Lightning 34 to 24 in all situations, and 26 to 19 at even strength, but their downfall, in my mind, was ultimately their inability to capitalize on a five-on-three power play in the first period. The Lightning did their best to help Detroit out, taking a too many men on the ice penalty and also subsequently taking another penalty on an unnecessary crosscheck, but rather than seizing it and grabbing an early lead, the Wings just casually tossed the puck around the perimeter. That ended up being costly, as the game remained scoreless until the end of the third period when Alex Killorn smacked a pass from Ryan Callahan past Petr Mrazek to seal the deal. 

I don’t think the outcome of this series is really all too surprising, to be honest. I guess there was a little bit of hope that the Lightning would have a rough time without Steven Stamkos in the lineup, but they proved otherwise (which is a good sign for them moving forward and should make letting go a lot easier). The Wings’ playoff run obviously isn’t very memorable, but hey, they pushed their streak to 25 years, so that’s something, right? And we got to see an octopus thrown on the ice! And the birth of an official new tradition, maybe? 

Lightning win series 4-1. 

Embed from Getty Images

Blackhawks 4 — Blues 3 (2OT) 

This was a fantastic hockey game, and the game winning goal really didn’t do it justice at all. Also, when is the league going to stop scheduling games at terrible times? 8:30 Central Time for the Blues and Hawks? On a weeknight? Why?

Anyways, the Hawks came into the game facing elimination from a playoff series for the first time since they lost to the L.A. Kings in 2014. Also, they were facing the reality that this could be the first time they were bounced in the first round since 2012 when they lost to the Phoenix Coyotes (lol remember that?) who ended up going to the Conference Finals. 

If they did manage to lose in five games in the first round to the Blues, I’m sure a big reason for that would have been the fact that their best forwards weren’t scoring goals. Through four games, Chicago had eight goals as a team, three of them had been scored by Duncan Keith, and none of them were scored by Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, or Marian Hossa. Thankfully for the Hawks, two of those three players scored their first goal of the playoffs, and one of them came as the game winner in the second overtime. 

Like I said, though, the goal was ugly. It was a terrible way to end a very exciting and well played hockey game, but that’s kinda what you have to expect when you’re venturing into playing a game after midnight local time. What wasn’t ugly, though, was an excellent goaltending performance by Corey Crawford. The Hawks may not have deserved to win this game (they were outshot 46 to 35 and out Corsi’d 83 to 69 in all situations), but Crawford did his best to snag this one for them. There was a long time there that he was talked about as the Chris Osgood of this generation, and that he was just sorta along for the ride in Chicago, but no, he’s definitely a major part of their success. 

One cool fact from this game that I can share is that Duncan Keith logged 42 minutes of ice time while David Rundblad (wait, I thought he was playing in Europe?) only played seven. Of course, this is nowhere near Keith’s career high in minutes logged, as he’s played more than 42 minutes three times in his NHL career. Also, speaking of Rundblad, I don’t know if everybody remembers, but once upon a time, he was traded for Vladimir Tarasenko, which is very unfortunate. 

Also, this stretch by Robby Fabbri. Wow. 

Blues lead series 3-2. 

Anaheim Ducks 4 — Nashville Predators 1 

The Nashville Predators probably can’t wait to jump on an airplane and get the hell out of Nashville. After winning the first two games of the series in Anaheim, they returned home to #Smashville and got completely spanked. They lost 3-0 on Tuesday when they had an opportunity to go up 3-0 themselves, and then last night, they followed that up with a 4-1 loss. 

That being said, Nashville was definitely the better team this game. They outshot the Ducks 30 to 21 in all situations, 20 to 15 at even strength, and they controlled the possession game, getting 43 even strength shot attempts in comparison to the 25 by Anaheim. 

This game pretty much exemplified the common theme from the 2015-16 Nashville Predators season. Despite being the better team, controlling the possession, and limiting the other team to very few high danger scoring chances for, Pekka Rinne didn’t play like himself. Over the course of the regular season, he was one of the worst in the league at facing difficult shots, posting a 78.90 save percentage on high danger scoring chances. Last night, Rinne faced only seven high danger chances, but he allowed three of them to go in. 

I mean, yeah, obviously you can’t pin a 4-1 loss entirely on a goalie just because he didn’t steer the ship to a 1-0 shutout, and some of that blame certainly lies on the offence for only scoring one goal, but Rinne is being outplayed by Frederik Andersen right now. And if that continues, we might not be able to continue to make jokes about the road team winning every game in the series, because the Ducks could ice this thing in the next two games. 

Of course, Predators fans can breathe easy knowing that their team has never before in its history blown a 2-0 series lead. Well… That’s because they’ve never held a 2-0 series lead before. So, uh, yeah. Catfish? 

Series is tied 2-2. 

Pittsburgh Penguins 5 — New York Rangers 0 

I’m sure it was a really, really difficult decision for Mike Sullivan and friends to figure out what to do with Evgeni Malkin after he completely ruined the team’s chemistry in Game 2 and guttered the team’s chances of sweeping the Rangers on their home turf, but I think he ultimately made the right call. 

If you don’t know what I’m going on about, the Penguins played poorly in the second game of the series and that happened to coincide with Malkin returning to the lineup after missing a good chunk of time with an injury. Of course, rather than, ya know, coming to a rational conclusion and either saying A) The team played poorly overall or B) The Rangers played well overall, the narrative became Evgeni Malkin’s return disrupted the groove the Penguins had going on, and they should maybe consider not playing him. Yeaaaaaaaah. No. 

Malkin evidently took that stupid narrative to heart and personally punished the New York Rangers in a fit of rage, laying a complete beating on them with two goals, two assists, and 61.9 Corsi For percentage. It probably his best playoff performances in recent memory, considering the last time he scored four points in a playoff game was back in 2009 against Carolina. Maybe he just has a thing for facing Eric Staal in the playoffs? 

Anyways, I think this is pretty much it for the Rangers. They’ll head back to Pittsburgh on the brink of elimination, and while anything can happen and all that, it’s pretty unlikely the Penguins will let this one slide. Oh well, thankfully the Rangers have a whole bunch of picks in this year’s draft to look forward to. 

Penguins lead series 3-1. 


Three Stars

3. Patrick Kane 

That overtime goal from Kane was hideous and awful to watch, but it kept the Blackhawks alive for another couple of days, and it kept everybody in the Eastern Time Zone from having to pull an all-nighter. 

2. Frederik Andersen 

The Predators were pretty easily the better team tonight, but Anderson’s 30 saves on 31 shots were key in keeping the Ducks from going down 3-1 in the series. 

1. Evgeni Malkin 

He didn’t ruin the chemistry tonight, so that’s a step in the right direction!