The second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs is in full swing, and we’ve already got a bit of everything: tight games, blowouts, and controversies quelled — and that was all just on Sunday!
While the Boston Bruins–Tampa Bay Lightning was in some question until the finish, the Vegas Golden Knights used some on-ice motivation to fuel their lopsided win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1.
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All times Eastern.
These old-time rivals face each other in the playoffs for the first time since 1987, and it should be a juicy series. The Flyers’ offense stalled out against the Montreal Canadiens in the last round (11 goals in six games) and the Islanders won’t make it easy defensively, either: they’ve allowed only six goals at 5-on-5 in nine games this summer. “There’s no question I think there’s another level we need to get to,” Philly GM Chuck Fletcher said over the weekend. The Islanders, meanwhile, got to spend the weekend moving out of the Royal York Hotel and into the more luxurious Hotel X, where the rest of the remaining Eastern Conference teams are staying. “I think we’ve gotten pretty comfortable at this hotel, so maybe it’s bittersweet,” Brock Nelson said. “I’m sure it’ll be nice to get a change of pace, change of scenery.”
Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer was injured in Game 1, and he’s already been ruled out for this game. Now, Pavel Francouz gets an opportunity. “He’s proven himself,” defenseman Ian Cole said. “He’s come in and played great for us. We’re going to trust Frankie to do his thing.” Coach Jared Bednar may not make any other roster moves. “I like to give our guys an opportunity to respond before I start making drastic changes,” Bednar said. “They’ve banked a lot of trust based on how they’ve played.” The Stars are coming into this contest with four straight wins, scoring 19 goals in that span. Without getting too carried away from a small sample size, but Dallas’ big three of Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin are starting to look like themselves again.
About last night …
It’s the marquee matchup of the second round — featuring the two best teams in the Eastern Conference this season — and in Game 1, it was all about the Bruins. The score wasn’t as close as it looked (the Lightning added a late goal, the second of the game by Victor Hedman, to save face). On his team’s start, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said: “It was completely disappointing, to be honest.” The Lightning would have some bursts of dominance, including the second period, but Jaroslav Halak was on point, stopping 35 shots. “He was dominant that period,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “The other two goals, I think one went in off Charlie [McAvoy], the other one had eyes, so they certainly got a couple of fortunate ones. But boy, did he make some saves in the second where they probably deserved better.” Full recap.
Charlie Coyle tips the shot right in front of Andrei Vasilevskiy to change the puck’s direction for the Bruins’ first goal of the game.
The Canucks are now Canada’s team, as the country’s last remaining hope in 2020 to break their Stanley Cup drought, which goes all the way back to 1993. Game 1 wasn’t exactly encouraging. The Golden Knights’ big-time forwards — Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch, Mark Stone, and Max Pacioretty — all scored to chase Jacob Markstrom from the net in his 11th consecutive playoff start. Meanwhile Vancouver’s trio of star offensive talents — Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes — didn’t register a shot on goal. Robin Lehner got his first playoff shutout with a 26-save performance. “I thought we played a hell of a game,” Lehner said. “It was nice to come out strong and start the series strong.” Full recap.
With two points in Game 1, the winger tied Bobby Orr for seventh most postseason points in Bruins history, with 92. He also now has 28 multi-point playoff games, third most in Bruins history behind Ray Bourque (46) and Phil Esposito (29).
It was his first career playoff shutout, and it came after a weekend where he was unexpectedly dragged into a social media controversy when Marc Andre Fleury’s agent tweeted a photo alleging his client had been wrongly deprived of playing time. “Me and Marc, we were just laughing,” Lehner said. “It’s always the media and everyone else that makes a big deal out of this. I think me and Marc, we get along great. He’s a really good guy. This team in general since I got here is a hell of a group and everyone is really tight. At the end of the day, [Fleury] didn’t do anything. It was his agent, and if he wants to be unprofessional, then go ahead. He looks terrible.”
With Tuukka Rask out of the bubble, Halak has stepped in to go 4-0, with a .930 save percentage and 1.75 goals-against average. The Lightning had 12 high-danger chances in Game 1, and Halak stopped them all en route to a 35-save performance in the victory.
Bubble content of the day
Shoutout to Tyson Jost (and his grandma!) for providing this wholesome bubble update:
Tyson Jost is getting family meals delivered to the bubble from his relatives in Edmonton, including homemade almond-butter cookies from his grandma, which he has generously shared with teammates like Ian Cole. @Avalanche
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 23, 2020
Transaction of the day
Vladdy is locked up.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) August 24, 2020
The fact that the Bruins extended 23-year-old backup goalie Dan Vladar isn’t exactly surprising. Boston has two back-to-backs baked into its series against the Lightning, and there’s a good chance that Vladar (0 games of NHL experience) gets a shot to start one of them. The timing was what’s interesting. Boston made the announcement in the middle of Game 1. It’s unclear if someone brought Vladar a pen and clipboard on the bench.
Quote of the day
“Regarding that picture that came up, I just wanted to say that Allan has been my agent for a long time. I’ve known him since I was 15. I really appreciate his passion for the game. I think it was a way to defend me for not playing much, but I’m here to win with my team.” — Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury responds to the weekend’s biggest controversy: his agent, Allan Walsh, tweeted out a photo of Fleury appearing to be stabbed by a sword with “DeBoer” inscribed on it. Walsh would later delete the tweet at Fleury’s request.