We’re four days into the First Round of the 2020 NHL Playoffs in Toronto and Edmonton, and at this point each team has played at least two games. Four series have one team up 2-0, and those are Vegas, Colorado, Vancouver, and the Islanders, meaning Chicago, Arizona, St. Louis, and Washington are on the back foot and need to win four games before their opponent wins two in order to move on.

Chicago and Arizona are two of the lowest seeds in the Return to Play, and while the Coyotes have put up quite a fight, it’ll be no surprise to see them and Chicago heading home after this round. But St. Louis and Washington? That would be a surprise. Boston Bruins Tuukka Rask has complained about the lack of playoff atmosphere in the bubble and how his team isn’t in the same mindset. I guess they need the encouragement from their fans to rip literal flesh from bone or lick faces or something.

I don’t think St. Louis took their Round Robin games seriously; they played secondary rosters and went winless before having to face a fiery hot Canucks team that was playing real elimination games in the days before. Same goes for Washington, who struggled in the Round Robin, and despite Alex Ovechkin scoring twice in their last game, are down 2-0 to the Islanders, allowing nine goals in the process.

Regardless of the environment, these are the circumstances all the teams are playing in. The Conference leaders were given Round Robin games in order to create competition and make sure those top teams weren’t going into the first Round cold, the fact that some teams took it seriously while others didn’t isn’t anyone’s fault but their own.

And for the record, I don’t think Tampa Bay is in the same boat, they just hit the stupid cursed Blue Jackets.

Updated Bracket

PHI vs. MTL (1-1)
TBL vs. CBJ (1-1)
WSH vs. NYI (0-2)
BOS vs. CAR (1-1)

VGK vs. CHI (2-0)
COL vs. ARI (2-0)
DAL vs. CGY (1-2)
STL vs. VAN (0-2)

Yesterday’s Games

Colorado Avalanche 3, Arizona Coyotes 2 — COL lead 2-0
Arizona put up much bigger of a fight than their 14 shot performance in Game 1, but they still couldn’t beat Nazem Kadri, who set Andre Burakovsky for the game winner in the third to secure the win in an otherwise tight game. I am also spending the rest of my weekend irrationally hoping Taylor Hall signs a 1x1 with the Leafs.

Montreal Canadiens 5, Philadelphia Flyers 0 — Series tied 1-1
There could be many reasons for why the Habs pounded the Flyers in the second game of the series after not really being close in Game 1. One could be the team rallying around Claude Julien, it could be the opposite effect of his absence and the installation of Kirk Muller, or it could be that they got lucky early and a couple times after that and it deflated the Flyers, who knows. Whatever the reason, the series is tied now and the Flyers have convinced themselves to be mad about the Habs putting out their power play unit late in the game. I’m sure it’ll be a useful rallying cry for them.

Vancouver Canucks 4, St. Louis Blues 3 (OT) — VAN lead 2-0
The Blues are making mistakes and the Canucks are capitalizing with their talented and dynamic forwards when the chances open up. This has been a fascinating series to watch, especially since St. Louis hasn’t been able to clamp down a defensive structure that works and has been sustainable for them. Five games in, they still look rusty. I hope this is the end of Jordan Binnington.

New York Islanders 5, Washington Capitals 2 — NYI lead 2-0
Ovi scored twice in this game, but his contributions were equalized by the dynamic duo of Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin. The Capitals need goaltending, namely in the form of their rookie Ilya Samsonov who is sitting in the pressbox right now.

Calgary Flames 2, Dallas Stars 0 — CGY lead 2-1
Arguably the most fun series of the playoffs had it’s most boring game as Cam Talbot shut out the Stars in a game where the tired starter beat the rested backup. I can’t believe Edmonton fake-traded him for Mike Smith.

Today’s Games

There’s lots of prime hockey all day for this Saturday. Par Lindholm vs. the buyout of Patrick Marleau will be another classic right at noon, Michael Grabner vs. Michael Hutchinson has been a really fun matchup in the first two games and Game 3 should be the same. Scott Harrington vs. Luke Schenn is in the prime time slot, as you would expect. And in case that game gets boring, you can join Robin Lehner destroy the retained salary of Robin Lehner while our retained salary of Robin Lehner watches from a safe distance.

Boston Bruins “@” Carolina Hurricanes — Series tied 1-1
12pm ET, NBC, SN, TVAS

Colorado Avalanche “@” Arizona Coyotes — COL lead 2-0
3pm ET, CNBC, TVAS, SN360, ALT, FS-A, FS-A+

Tampa Bay Lightning “@” Columbus Blue Jackets — Series tied 1-1
7:30pm ET, NBCSN, TVAS, SN360, FS-O, SUN

Vegas Golden Knights “@” Chicago — VGK lead 2-0
8pm ET, NBC, CBC, SN

Various Hockey Branches

Rumour: Bruce Boudreau willing to take lesser role to coach with hometown Maple Leafs — Hardev
Please make this happen.

“The Wild from 2016-19 had the lowest expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5v5 in the league at 1.94 and the best total expected goals share in the league 54.5%. The Leafs during that time had the third worst expected goals against at 2.56 and were 13th in expected goals share 51.3%.”

ECHL goalie Maksim Zhukov, who was on an AHL deal with the Toronto Marlies, is heading to the second division of Czech hockey where Filip Kral will be as well (different teams). Not sure whether he comes back, but there’s a good chance he has a North American out clause. If the Growlers play, they’ll need him.

It actually took me until I was writing to realize what the QMJHL was saying. Quebec’s CHL league is planning to begin TRAINING CAMPS on AUGUST 30th and start their regular season on OCTOBER 1st. This will include teams travelling around three divisions of six Canadian teams each, so as to minimize spread. The QMJHL do not have any American teams (unlike the OHL and WHL) so their planning has been made much easier for obvious reasons. This is a tactic I hope the NHL takes, keeping Canadian and American teams separate and keeping games between smaller groups.

To quote Arvind, “images that preceded disaster.” Don’t get too cocky over there, Vancouver.

Habs head coach Claude Julien is back home, resting, and is expected to make a full recovery.

I’m convinced Mike Futa is not a real person and just a code for “unnamed Hockey Man” or “unnamed Hockey Man’s son.”