Entering playoffs after strange end to season


Friday’s top NHL player

Steven Stamkos, Lightning

Yes, the Lightning had seeding on the line, and they succeeded in wrestling the third Atlantic Division seed away from the Bruins. Personally, I wouldn’t have played Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, or Andrei Vasilevskiy here. Not with all the mileage on these top players, and the injuries they’ve navigated.

But a lot of NHL teams stubbornly trotted out key players despite minimal gains, including some with literally nothing to gain on Friday. Aside from a few savvy teams like the Panthers, a lot of teams shrugged their shoulders and played most/all of their workhorses anyway.

At least this allowed Steven Stamkos to keep his absolutely absurd hot streak going.

Stamkos is now on an absolutely absurd nine-game multipoint streak after collecting a hat trick during the Friday NHL games. Over those nine games, Stamkos:

  • Generating four points twice.

  • Collected three points on four occasions.

  • Settled (ho hum) for two points three times.

Ludicrous, ludicrous stuff. That hat trick helped Stamkos cross the 40-goal barrier. He ended the season with 42 goals and 106 points in 81 games (his first-ever 100+ point season).

There were some other standout NHL performances on Friday, including a Cole Caufield hat trick, but Steven Stamkos took the cake on what was essentially the last night of the season.

(The Kraken and Jets play a make-up game on Sunday. No one emailed me back about calling it “The Irrelevant Bowl.”)

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

Friday NHL highlights

Watch highlights from that stunning Coyotes comeback against the Predators.

Here’s Steven Stamkos notching that hat trick.

Is this a sign that Zdeno Chara will retire? It at least looked that way.

We’ll also need to wait and see if Keith Yandle’s career is over. If so, could that mean that Phil Kessel may eventually pass Keith Yandle as the NHL’s all-time “ironman?”

Along with Stamkos, Cole Caufield also produced a hat trick, the first of the young winger’s career.

Pretty cool for Canadiens fans to break out a “Guy! Guy! Guy!” chant in honor of Guy Lafleur after Montreal scored a 10th goal.

Malcolm Subban, anthem singer, is just a delight.

Holy smokes, Dryden Hunt.

EBUG alert!

Thursday NHL Takeaways

All eight NHL series matchups for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Stunningly, the Predators squandered a 4-0 lead (which they notched less than seven minutes into the game) and lost to the lowly Coyotes 5-4 in regulation. The Coyotes almost spoiled things for the Stars, then they helped them move up to the higher wild-card.

Click here for a quick look at all eight NHL playoff series matchups in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but here are the nuts & bolts.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division bracket

Florida Panthers (ATL 1) vs. Washington Capitals (WC 2)
Toronto Maple Leafs (ATL 2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (ATL 3)

Metropolitan Division bracket

Carolina Hurricanes (MET 1) vs. Boston Bruins (WC 1)
New York Rangers (MET 2) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (MET 3)

Western Conference

Central Division bracket

Colorado Avalanche (CEN 1) vs. Nashville Predators (WC 2)
Minnesota Wild (CEN 2) vs. st. Louis Blues (CEN 3)

Pacific Division bracket

Calgary Flames (PAC 1) vs. Dallas Stars (WC 1)
Edmonton Oilers (PAC 2) vs. Los Angeles Kings (PAC 3)

Want to plan, say, your next two weeks? Head here for the schedule for the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

NHLPA will search for Don Fehr successor

Boy, the NHLPA really loves their “Friday night news-dumps,” huh? Here’s the lowdown on the search for Fehr’s replacement.

Ducks bless us with one more regular season “EBUG”

Catch up on the Ducks pressing emergency backup goalie Tom Hodges into duty.

There’s technically one game left this regular season

The existence of Sunday’s Jets – Kraken game is odd and funny

If you’re desperate to watch two teams go through the motions this weekend, the Jets and Kraken face off on Sunday. People might think you’re a little odd, but so what? A game’s a game.

Friday NHL scores

Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 3
Sabers 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)
Maple Leafs 5, Bruins 2
Canadiens 10, Panthers 2
Red Wings 5, Devils 3
Rangers 3, Capitals 2
Senators 4, Flyers 2
Lightning 6, Islanders 4
Golden Knights 7, Blues 4
Wild 4, Avalanche 1
Jets 3, Flames 1
Stars 4, Ducks 2
Oilers 3, Canucks 2 (SO)
Kraken 3, Sharks 0
Coyotes 5, Predators 4

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Rink Wrap: Entering playoffs after a strange end to season originally appeared on NBCSports.com





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