There wasn’t much hockey on last night, but there was no shortage of entertaining hockey, as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals faced off for the first time in these playoffs.
Also, the nominations for the Frank J. Selke were announced, and for the second consecutive day, fans were left puzzled by one of the nominees.
Finally, it’s Friday, so kick back in your chair that you’re supposed to be doing work in, relax, and let’s take one last look at some interesting stats from the first round.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS 4, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS 3 (OT)
This was a series that was hyped up as far as preseason considering the additions both teams made. It’s the NHL’s dream marketing series, as two of the biggest faces of the NHL go head to head. And game 1 did not disappoint.
The biggest key for Washington is to keep Pittsburgh’s offense at bay, because once they get their first goal, they can put you in a world of pain. Washington did an excellent job of that in the first period, outshooting Pittsburgh 15-9, while scoring the period’s lone goal, from Andre Burakovsky.
The second period…not so much. The middle frame saw three goals, all within 1:30, from Ben Lovejoy, Evgeni Malkin, and TJ Oshie (remember this name). The third didn’t get too much better, as while Oshie scored early in the third to give the Caps a 3-2 lead (with an Ovechkin assist, giving him his first point against the Penguins this year), Nick Bonino responded five minutes later to tie the game, and eventually send it to overtime.
The Penguins defense seemed to have forgotten about the overtime period though, as Washington piled scoring chance after scoring chance in an attempt to take the lead. And finally, the hockey gods decided to give the Caps a goal, as Oshie would score on a wrap around that trickled in (and was reviewed extensively) to complete his hat trick, and give the Caps a 1-0 series lead.
so this is the Oshie OT winner pic.twitter.com/AdBxiZ2rk8
— Stephanie (@myregularface) April 29, 2016
All in all, it was a very close game that definitely deserved it’s right to go to overtime. Pittsburgh led the shot attempts 77-76 overall, and 66-63 at even strength. Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel led the way in 5v5 Corsi +/- with 12 and 11, while at the other end, teammates Matt Cullen and Bryan Rust were a game worst -16 and -15, as well as Evgeny Kuznetsov’s -15.
Washington leads series 1-0.
The NHL announced the nominees for the Frank J. Selke trophy, which for those of you who don’t know, is awarded to the best defensive forward in the league (although for some reason you have to have a certain amount of points to qualify). Let’s take a look at this year’s nominees:
Patrice Bergeron is probably the face of defensive hockey. This is his fifth straight year with a nomination, and he is looking to win his fourth trophy in five years. While it certainly wasn’t his best year, mediocre Bergeron is still better than most players. However, with another season of the Bruins missing the playoffs, and this seeming to be the year where players who haven’t won it get a turn, he might not be the front runner.
Anze Kopitar has basically been the guy behind Bergeron the last couple years. This is his third year in a row with a nomination, but he lost the other two. He has helped the best possession team in a huge way with his defensive impact, and he’s always been a tough candidate to turn away from.
Ryan Kesler…wait…what the…? Why is he on here? He should have no chance of winning, right? Right?
In all seriousness, Kesler probably got the nod because he was one of the stronger players defensively for the Ducks in a year where they were defense heavy. Either that, or he’s due for a Selke.
BY THE NUMBERS
Now it’s time to take a look at some of the interesting stats from the first round:
-All eight teams that won the first game of their series went on to win the series. You always overlook the importance of the first game, because you always think “They can tie it up next game”, but this magnifies the importance of taking the initial lead in a series.
-Henrik Lundvist finished the series with a 92.13% 5v5 Save%, his third lowest of his playoff career. What was lower? The 2011-12 conference finals run (92.08%), and a three game stint in 2005-06 (83.42%). A tough way to go out for the King.
— Scott T. (@NHLFlyera) April 24, 2016
-Despite looking dominant against the Flyers, the Capitals finished the series with just six 5v5 goals, the second worst in the league. Thankfully for them, the worst team was the Flyers.
-Despite the eventual 4-1 series loss, Detroit held their own against the Lightning. They never trailed going into the third period, and were the only team to be leading after two periods in their 2-0 win in game 3.
-Also, Andreas Athanasiou, who led the Wings in 5v5 P60 this season, scored more goals than Jonathan Toews, Corey Perry, Jaromir Jagr, Claude Giroux, and Drew Doughty in the playoffs.
-Speaking of Doughty, he finished his playoff run with only five more playoff games, and one more playoff point than Erik Karlsson. Over the last two years, Ottawa has played more playoff games than the Kings.
-You’ve probably heard this a million time by now, but Anaheim is now 0-4 in game 7’s in the last four seasons, all after taking a 3-2 lead, with all games played at home. For the record, they’ve beaten an eighth seed Dallas Stars, an injured Winnipeg Jets, and the PDO run Calgary Flames, while losing to Detroit (which now looks like their last legit playoff run for a bit), the Kings (who had just reverse swept the Sharks), the Blackhawks (who were operating on four defensemen all playoffs), and now, the Predators (who had Pekka Rinne in net, and that’s not a good thing).
-The Stars had the worst goaltending of the teams to advance to the second round, as they only had a 90.6% 5v5 team save%. However, they did have the best 5v5 shooting percentage of 12.3%, so they weren’t out of luck this series.
3. Nick Bonino
Bonino scored the game tying goal, and also notched an assist on the first goal, which the shot attempts gong +8 with him on the ice.
2. Braden Holtby
Holtby stood strong when the Caps needed him to, stopping 42 of 45 shots for a .933% save% in the win.
1. T.J. Oshie
What could be more clutch than a hat trick in game 1, including a nice solo effort for the overtime winner.
Tomorrow, the West finally starts the second round, as the St. Louis Blues take on the Dallas Stars at 8:00 pm, and the Nashville Predators visit the San Jose Sharks at 10:30 pm.