The Wraparound: Cale Makar is unmatched


The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

• Be sure to check out all of Friday’s Stanley Cup Playoff action in the Rink Wrap right here.

• The Penguins will be without goalie Casey DeSmith for the remainder of the playoffs after he underwent successful core muscle surgery on Friday.

• Another Blues defenseman gets injured.

We do not know how the NHL’s voting award is going to play out this season (votes have already been submitted) but the Norris Trophy was pretty much a two-player race between the Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar and the Nashville Predators’ Roman Josi. Both players had magnificent offensive seasons, are top defenders for playoff teams, and just so happen to be facing off in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Through two games the story has been Makar and the Avalanche.

Colorado enters Game 3 on Saturday night with a commanding 2-0 lead in the series with Makar playing a starring role.

The numbers are about what you would expect from him given what he has done in the early part of his career.

He already has two goals, four total points, 14 shots on the goal, and dominant possession numbers, with the Avalanche completely controlling the game in every aspect when he is on the ice. But it’s not even about just the numbers. Everything about the way he plays is simply mesmerizing to watch.

Just look at the skating, puck control, and the perfectly placed shot in Game 1 to help bury the Predators in the first period.

How many players in the league can pull that off and make that play? Or make it look that easy? He is three years into his career and is still averaging more than a point per game as a defenseman and has continued that pace over to the playoffs. He still does not turn 24 until next October.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

There are a lot of outstanding defensemen in the NHL right now, including Josi, Victor Hedman, Adam Fox, Chris Letang, John Carlson, Charlie McAvoy, and Jaccob Slavin. None of them are quite on the same level as Makar in terms of being the total package of a defender. Nobody controls the game, pushes possession, scores, or skates like him from the blue line. We might be at the point where he is not only the best all-around defenseman in hockey, but also one of the absolute best players in hockey. As good as Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog and all of the Avalanche’s forwards are, it is Makar that is starting to establish himself as the player that makes this machine run.

If you were starting a team today and could pick any player in the NHL to build your organization around for the next 10 years, how many players come off the board before you pick Makar? Maybe three? Four? He is right up there with Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and any other top goalie you might want to build around.

NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

Game 3: Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals, 1 pm ET — ESPN (Series tied 1-1): Goaltending was the big question for both teams at the start of the series and through two games they are getting very different results. Sergei Bobrovsky is doing his best to change his postseason narrative and has been mostly strong for the Panthers in their first two games, especially in their Game 2 win. The Capitals, though, still have a pretty significant problem. Vitek Vanecek was not good in Game 2 and he is going to have to be significantly better if the Capitals are going to have a chance to win this series.

Game 3: Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators, 4:30 pm ET — TNT (COL leads 2-0): The Predators took Game 2 to overtime thanks to third string goalie Connor Ingram playing the game of his life. It still was not good enough as the Avalanche eventually wore them down and won on Makar’s overtime goal. The problem for Nashville is not just the goaltending question without Juuse Saros, but the simple fact they are not able to generate anything against a Colorado defense that is the most talented in the league. Nashville has to find a way to win four of the next five games against an Avalanche team that looks significantly superior in every phase of the game and in every possible way.

Game 3: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Pittsburgh Penguins. New York Rangers, 7 pm ET — TNT (Series tied 1-1): The Penguins are going to have to rely on Louis Domingue for the foreseeable future now that Casey DeSmith is out for the remainder of the season and there remains no timetable for Tristan Jarry. That is a pretty significant goaltender advantage for the Rangers who have Igor Shesterkin absolutely dominating again. The Penguins might be relying on their third string goalie, but it would be beneficial for them to get back a couple of their other injured players, including forwards Rickard Rakell and Jason Zucker, as well as defenseman Brian Dumoullin.

Game 3: Calgary Flames vs. Dallas Stars, 9:30 pm ET — TNT (Series tied 1-1): There is just no offense to be had anywhere in this series. Flames coach Darryl Sutter and Stars coach Rick Bowness have their teams locking things down to an absurd level. In two games the two teams have combined for three goals (one power play goal, one five-on-five goal, and one empty net goal) while they have combined for only 94 total shots on goal. If you score one goal, you are going to win this game.

SUNDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 4: Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes, 12:30 p.m. ET — ESPN (CAR leads 2-1)
Game 4: St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild, 4:30 pm ET — TBS (MIN leads 2-1)
Game 4: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m. ET — TBS (TOR leads 2-1)
Game 4: Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings, 10 p.m. ET — TBS (EDM leads 2-1)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Maple Leafs vs. Maple Leafs. Lightning

Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Penguins vs. Rangers
Panthers vs. Capitals
blue vs. Wild
Avalanche vs. Predators
• Oilers vs. Oilers. Kings
Flames vs. Stars

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info
First Round, Stanley Cup predictions
NHL Draft Lottery set: Canadiens have best odds for top pick
Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

More NHL News

NHL Rink Wrap: Bruins finally solve Hurricanes; Campbell shines for Maple… Blues lose Game 3 and another defenseman as Krug exits with injury Penguins goalie issues: DeSmith ruled out for playoffs

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Gretz.

The Wraparound: Cale Makar is originally unmatched appeared on NBCSports.com





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