Astoria, NY – It’s official, the 2013 NHL playoffs are here and THEY. ARE. GLORIOUS.
If you’re not still running on adrenaline this morning after watching an initial slate of playoff games last night that included two separate overtime contests, then you might not have seen the same games as the rest of America.
(An aside: how underrated is the fact that there are no TV timeouts during overtime? Talk about keeping the intensity level high for the viewers, right? Again, I’m reminded of how awesome the NHL playoffs are.)
If opening night was any indicator of how the rest of the postseason will play out, hockey fans had better strap themselves in; the next month is going to be a wild ride.
And speaking of excitement, #IslesNation has been preparing for its own special “Opening Night” since 2007. The New York Islanders begin their playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, meaning that thousands of people on Long Island and in the New York metro area will be glued to their televisions at 7:30 p.m.
While it’s been documented far and wide how much of a statistical mismatch this series is – this site included – the Islanders most certainly have more than a puncher’s chance against the Penguins. And besides, the games aren’t played on paper.
Whether Isles fans cite history (1993, anyone?), the Pens’ potential lack of Sidney Crosby, or the strong play of the Islanders overall during the month of April, there are several reasons to #beLIeve that the Isles can pull off the upset.
(See what I did there?)
So get pumped. Wear your blue and orange to school or to work; high five strangers who are wearing Isles gear; sit in your lucky spot during tonight’s game; do whatever you have to do. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, and it’s finally here.
The #DriveFor5 starts tonight.
Floating Around The Twitter-Sphere
The Hockey Gods are real. And apparently, they’re quick to point out coincidences during the playoffs:
— The Hockey Gods (@HockeyGods) May 1, 2013
This commercial will never get old. Getting weird #BecauseItsTheCup is only natural:
— NHL (@NHL) April 16, 2013
Grabs has one thing one his mind, and rightly so:
— Michael Grabner (@grabs40) April 24, 2013
Last Night In The NHL
Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks (CHI 1-0)
The No. 1-seeded Chicago Blackhawks got an overtime winner from an unlikely source to beat the No. 8-seeded Minnesota Wild 2-1 in the series opener.
Chicago left wing Bryan Bickell was the recipient of a beautiful Viktor Stalberg pass in front of the Minnesota net and slid home a backhander at 16:35 of overtime, going five-hole on Wild backup goaltender Josh Harding.
Harding was a late addition to the Minnesota lineup, after starting goalie Niklas Backstrom was injured during warmups before the game.
The second-stringer outperformed expectations, holding arguably the NHL’s best team to a single goal over the course of 60 minutes in his first playoff start. It’s clear no one is faulting Harding for the loss.
If the Wild can take something positive from the defeat, it’s that they hung with the Hawks and took their best punches without going down easily. Perhaps Minnesota will be a more difficult ‘out’ than most expected.
Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues (STL 1-0)
The St. Louis Blues got one of the more remarkable – or unlikely, depending on your point of view – playoff-overtime-winning goals any of us will see for quite some time, as Alexander Steen took advantage of a mistake by Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick to give the Blues a 1-0 series lead.
The Blues beat the Kings 2-1 in Game 1 of their series on the strength of Steen’s two goals, one on the power play and one shorthanded. It was the shorthanded goal that ended the game in favor of St. Louis.
A late game-tying goal by Kings winger Justin Williams with 31 seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime, but the Blues eventually prevailed despite Kevin Shattenkirk being assessed a four-minute double minor for high sticking at 12:45 of the overtime period.
In a miscue that will likely be replayed time and time again on hockey blooper reels, Quick fanned on a pass attempt from behind his own net; Steen came in on the forecheck and pounced on the puck, sliding it into an empty net to give the Blues the victory.
Make no mistake: this Los Angeles vs. St. Louis series will be one to keep an eye on. Don’t blink.
Detroit Red Wings at Anaheim Ducks (ANA 1-0)
The Anaheim Ducks beat the Western Conference’s perennial playoff team, the Detroit Red Wings, by a score of 3-1 to grab the first game in the series between the two teams.
Teemu Selanne broke a 1-1 tie at 1:29 of the third period with what amounted to a “fadeaway” slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Wings netminder Jimmy Howard with a one-timer. The power play goal was Selanne’s 11th game-winning playoff goal, which reminds us all that he’s been around the block before.
This definitely isn’t Selanne’s first rodeo.
Some stellar goaltending from Jonas Hiller at the other end of the rink made the Ducks’ lead stand up, giving the Anaheim fans something to celebrate in the final game on the NHL’s playoff schedule last night.
The game was still within reach for the Red Wings until the game’s final minute, when Anaheim added an empty-net goal to seal the victory. Francois Beauchemin flung a 180-foot shot towards the Detroit end, almost immediately off off a defensive-zone draw, which found the back of the net and resulted in a 3-1 score line.
The Red Wings might be the Western Conference’s most battle-tested team when it comes to playoff experience, but the Ducks proved last night that their fantastic regular season record was no accident.
Watch Bryan Bickell act like a 30-goal scorer with this pretty move to the backhand for the overtime winner…
Check out Alexander Steen make the play that sent St. Louis fans home happy (which, conversely, sent Quick home sad)…
Take a look at Teemu Selanne being ageless…
As always, thanks for reading us at EyesOnIsles. Keep it right here for all of your Isles and NHL playoff coverage. Be sure to check the menu bar at the top of the page for ways to connect with the EyesOnIsles staff.