‘Lots of fire’ left in Bowness at end of his Stars contract

FRISCO, Texas — Rick Bowness has been on an NHL bench for a record 2,562 regular-season games as a head coach or an assistant over nearly four decades. The 67-year-old coach is not ready to be done yet even though he is at the end of his contract with the Dallas Stars.

“The playoffs bring out your passion. … That excitement and that pressure and everything, that’s what we live for,” Bowness said Tuesday. “It’s tough to walk out of that rink losing in overtime in Game 7, but it also shows you that, yeah, I’m an old man, but still lots of fire left in me.”

Two days after the wildcard Stars ended their season in a 3-2 loss at Calgary, and two seasons after he took them to a most unusual Stanley Cup Final, it was unclear if Bowness will be back.

General manager Jim Nill, who has only one year left on his contract, did exit interviews with players Tuesday. He said he would be sitting down with owner Tom Gaglardi to determine the team’s direction, including the coaching situation.

Bowness got a two-year contract after that 2020 final as interim head coach, a stint that included the 4 1/2-month pause in the season because of the pandemic and two months in a postseason bubble in Canada. There was then a shortened, 56-game season when the Stars had an NHL-high 14 losses after regulation and missed the playoffs. They had 98 points this season.

“The players respect him. He’s handled the situation very well,” Nill said. “He’s done a good job. But as I said, we’ll sit down with everybody, reassess everything here over the next five or six days, and go from there.”

Scotty Bowman and Pat Quinn, both members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Bowness are the only other head coaches with games in five different decades. Bowness did so with Winnipeg (1989), Boston (1991-92), Ottawa (1992-96), the New York Islanders (1996-98), Phoenix (2004) and Dallas (2019-22). He also was an assistant for Vancouver and Tampa Bay.

Bowness is 89-62-25 with Dallas, and he said a one-year contract would be perfect for him. The hockey lifer could go elsewhere in a different role if not brought back by the Stars.

“If I want them, the options will be there,” Bowness said confidently.

Whether with Bowness or another coach next season, the Stars need to find more consistent scoring outside their top line that didn’t include six-time All-Star Tyler Seguin or captain Jamie Benn. The Stars were the only one of the 16 playoffs teams that were outscored during the regular season.

Young skaters Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson were on the top line with 37-year-old Joe Pavelski, already re-signed for next season, that combined for 232 points, second-most in franchise history for a trio, with Robertson only the fourth 40-goal scorer.

Dallas does feel like it now has its franchise goalie in 23-year-old Jake Oettinger, whose 64 saves in the final game were among 272 in seven games against Calgary before Johnny Gaudreau’s series-ending goal.

“I’m even more motivated to get back to that position,” Oettinger said. “Every second I was on the ice, I was having the time of my life, and it was it a dream come true. … I’ve never wanted to win more than I do right now.”

Oettinger began this season in the minors even after making his NHL debut in a couple of 2020 playoff games and playing in half of the Stars’ games last season. With injuries to Anton Khudobin (hip) and Braden Holtby (lower body), and veteran Ben Bishop having to end his playing career because of a degenerative knee issue, Oettinger took advantage of his opportunity to be the top netminder.

“A phenomenal young goalie. He’s going to be great for this organization for a long time,” Benn said.

Benn had only 18 goals (46 points), and a career-worst rating of minus-13. Seguin, who missed all but three games last season because of a torn hip labrum and knee surgery, was minus-21 with 24 goals (49 points), but played the end of this season and against Calgary with a fractured bone in his left foot. Benn had only one playoff goal and Seguin two, one an empty-netter.

“They’ve still got some prime years ahead of them. Tyler’s had some injuries, Jamie’s had some injuries, but they’re still got more to give,” Nill said. “They’re a big part of our team, and we need them to be better.”

Lady Byng Trophy: Connor, Slavin, Spurgeon are 2021-22 finalists

Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets, Jaccob Slavin of the Carolina Hurricanes, and Jared Spurgeon of the Minnesota Wild are the three finalists for the 2021-22 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. The award, which is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

Slavin was the winner last season.

The 2021-22 NHL Award winners will be revealed during the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final.

The case for Kyle Connor: The Jets forward set career highs in 2021-22 with 47 goals, 46 assists, and 93 points in 79 games. He finished fourth among all forwards averaging 21:47 of total ice time and racked up only four total penalty minutes this season. This is Connor’s first time up for the award and he is also the first Lady Byng Trophy finalist in Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history.

The case for Jaccob Slavin: Last year’s winner, the Hurricanes defenseman led the team in total ice time (1,858:52) and helped the franchise lead the NHL in fewest goals allowed (202), helping Antti Raanta and Frederik Andersen to win the William M. Jennings Trophy. Slavin put up career highs with 38 assists in 42 points and was whistled for only 10 penalty minutes inn 79 games. A win would make him the first player to take home the Lady Byng Trophy in consecutive seasons since Martin St. Louis (2009-10, 2010-11).

The case for Jared Spurgeon: A finalist for the award last season, the Wild defenseman hit double digits in goals (10) for the fifth time in his career and reached the 40 point-mark for the second time in four seasons. He played 1,374:45 over 65 games and served only 10 minutes in penalty time, the seventh time in 12 NHL season he’s been whistled for 10 or fewer penalty minutes — and escaped punishment for a questionable hit on Christian Dvorak in January. (The fine for his cross-check on Buchnevich doesn’t come into play as all voting is done before the playoffs begin.) A win would make him the first player in franchise history to capture the award

Finalists for the 2021-22 Jack Adams Award, which is voted on by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association, will be announced on Thursday.

NHL Award finalists announcement schedule:

Norris Trophy: Victor Hedman, Roman Josi, Cale Makar
Vezina Trophy: Jacob Markstrom, Juuse Saros, Igor Shesterkin
Calder Trophy: Michael Bunting, Moritz Seider, Trevor Zegras
Hart TrophyAuston Matthews, Connor McDavid, Igor Shesterkin
Ted Lindsay AwardRoman Josi, Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid
Masterton Trophy: Zdeno Chara, Kevin Hayes, Carey Price
Selke Trophy: Aleksander Barkov, Patrice Bergeron, Elias Lindholm
Thursday, May 19: Jack Adams Award
Friday, May 20: King Clancy Memorial Trophy

————

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

The Wraparound: Perfectly timed Battle of Alberta for Flames, Oilers

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.

• Catch up on Game 1 of Blues – Avalanche and Lightning – Panthers in the Tuesday Rink Wrap.

• The NHL announced the 2022 Selke Trophy finalists: Aleksander Barkov, Patrice Bergeron, and Elias Lindholm.

• It’s not too late to read PHT’s Roundtable about the playoffs so far, with some looks at the future.

As exciting as Game 1 (9:30 p.m. ET) is, it’s almost criminal that the Flames and Oilers haven’t engaged in a “Battle of Alberta” since 1991.

For all of the shortcomings of the NHL’s playoff and divisional formats recently, the goal was to develop “Battle of Alberta”-type rivalries. Reignite old ones. Make new ones.

But, to some extent, there’s that key variable: if one or both teams aren’t good enough, they won’t get many chances to make the playoffs.

There’s a bright side to the Flames and Oilers finally meeting in this “Battle of Alberta.” You could argue that there’s never been a better time for this to happen again.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

Just look at the two biggest superstars.

Connor McDavid was superhuman through Game 7 against the Kings. Fellow Oilers star Leon Draisaitl didn’t just rave about the offense, but also that McDavid would not be “denied.”

“There’s lots of skill with him, that’s a given, but it’s the will,” Draisaitl said. “You can see it in his eyes, you can feel it every shift that he’s out there. He’s determined.

Through seven games, McDavid generated an outstanding 14 points. Beyond that, he dominated at 5-on-5, and played a 200-ft. game.

[NHL Power Rankings: Top Second Round storylines]

Johnny Gaudreau similarly dominated, breaking through when no one else could against Jake Oettinger, including on the overtime-winner in Game 7. Gaudreau’s eight points in seven games don’t match McDavid’s output, yet both stars are silencing doubters about their playoff prowess.

It’s the sort of thing that gets you a big hug.

Delightfully, both McDavid and Gaudreau enjoy better supporting casts than they’ve likely had with the Oilers and Flames respectively. (Calgary’s deeper, but Edmonton has other weapons.)

Aside from wanting more series, more often, there’s not much more you can ask for with a “Battle of Alberta.”

NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

Game 1: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports): In PHT’s predictions, four of five people chose the Hurricanes over the Rangers. That’s the sort of confidence you normally only get from dentists. The reasoning is simple. The Rangers faced a Penguins team ravaged by injuries, including in net, and barely won. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes’ goalies were the ones suffering injuries, yet they beat a strong Bruins opponent. Carolina also boasted a far superior team during the season from an analytics standpoint, and many would agree that “the eye test” would argue similarly for them over New York.

If narratives carry over from round to round, then Game 1 (and 2) could favor the Hurricanes over the Rangers even more. After all, the Hurricanes were perfect (and at times, scary-good) at home during their series against Boston.

Game 1: Oilers at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Avalanche vs. Blues

Lightning vs. Panthers
Makar, McDavid lead Conn Smythe watch after First Round
NHL Second Round predictions
Storylines for the NHL’s Second Round

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info

The Second Round of the 2021-22 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins on Tuesday, May 17. The final four teams in the Eastern Conference are the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, and Tampa Bay Lightning. Out in the Western Conference it will be the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and St. Louis Blues.

The winners of the four Second Round series will meet in the 2022 Conference Finals.

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Second Round – Eastern Conference

FLORIDA PANTHERS v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (TBL leads 1-0)

Game 1 – May 17: Lightning 4, Panthers 1
Game 2 – May 19: Lightning at Panthers, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Panthers at Lightning, 1:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 23: Panthers at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 25: Lightning at Panthers, TBD
*Game 6 – May 27: Panthers at Lightning, TBD
*Game 7 – May 29: Lightning at Panthers, TBD

NEW YORK RANGERS v. CAROLINA HURRICANES
Game 1 – May 18: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 2 – May 20: Rangers at Hurricanes, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Hurricanes at Rangers, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 24: Hurricanes at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 26: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Hurricanes at Rangers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Second Round – Western Conference

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. ST. LOUIS BLUES (COL leads 1-0)
Game 1 – May 17: Avalanche 3, Blues 2 (OT)
Game 2 – May 19: Blues at Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 21: Avalanche at Blues, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 23: Avalanche at Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 25: Blues at Avalanche, TBD
*Game 6 – May 27: Avalanche at Blues, TBD
*Game 7 – May 29: Blues at Avalanche, TBD

CALGARY FLAMES v. EDMONTON OILERS
Game 1 –
May 18: Oilers at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
Game 2 – May 20: Oilers at Flames, 10:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
Game 3 – May 22: Flames at Oilers, 8 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN2)
Game 4 – May 24: Flames at Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
*Game 5 – May 26: Oilers at Flames, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Flames at Oilers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Oilers at Flames, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

First Round – Eastern Conference

FLORIDA PANTHERS v. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (FLA wins series 4-2)
Game 1: Capitals 4, Panthers 2
Game 2: Panthers 5, Capitals 1
Game 3: Capitals 6, Panthers 1
Game 4: Panthers 3, Capitals 2 (OT)
Game 5: Panthers 5, Capitals 3
Game 6: Panthers 4, Capitals 3 (OT)

CAROLINA HURRICANES v. BOSTON BRUINS (CAR wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 1
Game 2: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 2
Game 3: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 2
Game 4: Bruins 5, Hurricanes 2
Game 5: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 1
Game 6: Bruins 5, Hurricanes 2
Game 7: Hurricanes 3, Bruins 2

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (TBL wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 0
Game 2: Lightning 5, Maple Leafs 3
Game 3: Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 2
Game 4: Lightning 7, Maple Leafs 3
Game 5: Maple Leafs 4, Lightning 3
Game 6: Lightning 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Game 7: Lightning 2, Maple Leafs 1

NEW YORK RANGERS v. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (NYR wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Penguins 4, Rangers 3 (3OT)
Game 2: Rangers 5, Penguins 2
Game 3: Penguins 7, Rangers 4
Game 4: Penguins 7, Rangers 2
Game 5: Rangers 5, Penguins 3
Game 6: Rangers 5, Penguins 3
Game 7: Rangers 4, Penguins 3 (OT)

First Round – Western Conference

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (COL wins series 4-0)
Game 1: Avalanche 7, Predators 2
Game 2: Avalanche 2, Predators 1 (OT)
Game 3: Avalanche 7, Predators 3
Game 4: Avalanche 5, Predators 3

CALGARY FLAMES v. DALLAS STARS (CGY wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Flames 1, Stars 0
Game 2: Stars 2, Flames 0
Game 3: Stars 4, Flames 2
Game 4: Flames 4, Stars 1
Game 5: Flames 3, Stars 1
Game 6: Stars 4, Flames 2
Game 7: Flames 3, Stars 2 (OT)

EDMONTON OILERS vs. LOS ANGELES KINGS (EDM win series 4-3)
Game 1: Kings 4, Oilers 3
Game 2: Oilers 6, Kings 0
Game 3: Oilers 8, Kings 2
Game 4: Kings 4, Oilers 0
Game 5: Kings 5, Oilers 4 (OT)
Game 6: Oilers 4, Kings 2
Game 7: Oilers 2, Kings 0

MINNESOTA WILD v. ST. LOUIS BLUES (STL wins series 4-2)
Game 1: Blues 4, Wild 0
Game 2: Wild 6, Blues 2
Game 3: Wild 5, Blues 1
Game 4: Blues 5, Wild 2
Game 5: Blues 5, Wild 2
Game 6: Blues 5, Wild 1

NHL Rink Wrap: Blues almost upset Avalanche; Lightning win Game 1

• Without Brayden Point in Game 1, the Lightning still beat the Panthers. While the score was misleading (4-1), Florida still has some thinking to do.

Jordan Binnington (and some post luck) helped the Blues get to overtime, but the Avalanche overcame that performance in Game 1.

• The NHL announced the 2022 Selke Trophy finalists: Aleksander Barkov, Patrice Bergeron, and Elias Lindholm.

• Apparently Mitch Marner was the victim of a carjacking.

It’s not too late to read PHT’s Roundtable about the playoffs so far, with some looks at the future.

Game 1: Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Florida Panthers 1 (TBL leads 1-0)

To reiterate: the Lightning didn’t beat the Panthers to the degree that backs up the 4-1 score. This was a close one.

But, without Brayden Point and arguably with fresher legs, the Panthers have a lot to chew on after being largely muzzled by the Lightning in Game 1. In the end, this was an even contest at 5-on-5 when it came to high-danger chances, with Florida holding an early edge and Tampa Bay finishing strong.

There’s some comfort in that, yet also room for doubts. Some disturbing trends carried over from the Panthers’ work against the Capitals and Game 1 versus the Lightning. After going 0-for-18 vs. the Caps, Florida went 0-for-3 in Game 1. The Lightning struck three times on the power play.

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

Beyond that, the Lightning slowed down the Panthers’ rush/transition game quite often, much like the Capitals did. For some speculation on how Florida may spark a better pace, check out this detailed recap.

Check the three stars for another story in this game: Tampa Bay’s stars really delivered.

Game 1: Colorado Avalanche 3, St. Louis Blues 2 [OT] (COL leads 1-0)

You know how the Panthers’ relentless offensive style hasn’t translated to the playoffs, at least yet? The Colorado Avalanche appear immune to such an affliction.

An improved Blues team struggled mightily with the Avalanche attack almost all Game 1 long, to the point that it was surprising that it went to overtime.

As you’ll note in the three stars section, Jordan Binnington was the main reason why. It’s also worth noting that the Avalanche hit at least five posts during this one.

Ideally, the Blues would be able to slow down the Avalanche, much like other teams can use tactics like a 1-3-1 trap to bottle up speedy teams. Could Colorado end up a unique animal in this regard, though?

Players like Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon can knife through defenses, neutralizing neutral-zone traps. Colorado also boasts a deeper rotation of puck-movers than most teams manage to pile up. It’s also noteworthy that the Blues emphasize skill more than size these days, opening up questions about how successful St. Louis would be trying to slow things down.

It’s the sort of thing that might make St. Louis throw a fit or three.

Three Stars in NHL Playoffs (Game 1 of Blues – Avalanche; Lightning – Panthers)

1. Jordan Binnington, Blues

Confession time: while Jordan Binnington earned a Game 1 start, I wondered if the Blues might eventually turn to Ville Husso.

A lot can change during a series, so maybe that will eventually happen. Perhaps Jordan Binnington may pass out from exhaustion after having to make so many saves?

Anyway, the Avalanche were almost unstoppable in pushing the pace against the Blues, but Binnington’s brilliance accounted for that “almost” part. Setting new career-highs, Jordan Binnington faced 54 shots and made 51 saves.

Incredible stuff.

2. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

Heading into the Lightning – Panthers series, people were aware that Brayden Point was hurt, and unlikely to play in Game 1. There were also rumblings than Nikita Kucherov isn’t healthy.

If Kucherov isn’t at full-strength, then it’s scary to imagine him at 100-percent.

At whatever level he is, Kucherov was the prime difference-maker in the Lightning’s Game 1 win against the Panthers. After making a move that forced MacKenzie Weegar to take a penalty, Kucherov made an even better juke to get Aaron Ekblad out of position, and set up an easy Corey Perry goal.

While that’s a bad gaffe by Ekblad, note that Kucherov pulled off these moves against high-quality blueliners (Weegar and Ekblad have, at times, quietly performed like stealth Norris finalists).

Kucherov also scored a key power play goal to turn a tense 2-1 contest into a comfortable 3-1 lead. You know all that talk (that’s now parodied) about Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau being “underrated?” They need to rise to Kucherov’s level if they want to get more of the spotlight.

(Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s 33 saves earn him an honorable mention.)

3. Josh Manson, Avalanche

By certain metrics, Josh Manson hasn’t been a slam-dunk-addition for the Avs. That trade deadline move feels more successful after the success he had in Game 1.

Josh Manson scored the overtime-winner, assisted on Samuel Girard‘s 2-1 tally, and drew the penalty that trickled into OT, and caused Brayden Schenn to lose his mind and damage a camera.

Not a bad night’s work.

THURSDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 1: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 1: Oilers at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Avalanche vs. Blues

Lightning vs. Panthers
Makar, McDavid lead Conn Smythe watch after First Round
NHL Second Round predictions
Storylines for the NHL’s Second Round

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info

The Second Round of the 2021-22 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins on Tuesday, May 17. The final four teams in the Eastern Conference are the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, and Tampa Bay Lightning. Out in the Western Conference it will be the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and St. Louis Blues.

The winners of the four Second Round series will meet in the 2022 Conference Finals.

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Second Round – Eastern Conference

FLORIDA PANTHERS v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (TBL leads 1-0)

Game 1 – May 17: Lightning 4, Panthers 1
Game 2 – May 19: Lightning at Panthers, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Panthers at Lightning, 1:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 23: Panthers at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 25: Lightning at Panthers, TBD
*Game 6 – May 27: Panthers at Lightning, TBD
*Game 7 – May 29: Lightning at Panthers, TBD

NEW YORK RANGERS v. CAROLINA HURRICANES
Game 1 – May 18: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 2 – May 20: Rangers at Hurricanes, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Hurricanes at Rangers, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 24: Hurricanes at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 26: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Hurricanes at Rangers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Second Round – Western Conference

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. ST. LOUIS BLUES (COL leads 1-0)
Game 1 – May 17: Avalanche 3, Blues 2 [OT]
Game 2 – May 19: Blues at Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 21: Avalanche at Blues, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 23: Avalanche at Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 25: Blues at Avalanche, TBD
*Game 6 – May 27: Avalanche at Blues, TBD
*Game 7 – May 29: Blues at Avalanche, TBD

CALGARY FLAMES v. EDMONTON OILERS
Game 1 –
May 18: Oilers at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
Game 2 – May 20: Oilers at Flames, 10:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
Game 3 – May 22: Flames at Oilers, 8 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN2)
Game 4 – May 24: Flames at Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
*Game 5 – May 26: Oilers at Flames, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Flames at Oilers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Oilers at Flames, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

First Round – Eastern Conference

FLORIDA PANTHERS v. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (FLA wins series 4-2)
Game 1: Capitals 4, Panthers 2
Game 2: Panthers 5, Capitals 1
Game 3: Capitals 6, Panthers 1
Game 4: Panthers 3, Capitals 2 (OT)
Game 5: Panthers 5, Capitals 3
Game 6: Panthers 4, Capitals 3 (OT)

CAROLINA HURRICANES v. BOSTON BRUINS (CAR wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 1
Game 2: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 2
Game 3: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 2
Game 4: Bruins 5, Hurricanes 2
Game 5: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 1
Game 6: Bruins 5, Hurricanes 2
Game 7: Hurricanes 3, Bruins 2

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (TBL wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 0
Game 2: Lightning 5, Maple Leafs 3
Game 3: Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 2
Game 4: Lightning 7, Maple Leafs 3
Game 5: Maple Leafs 4, Lightning 3
Game 6: Lightning 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Game 7: Lightning 2, Maple Leafs 1

NEW YORK RANGERS v. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (NYR wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Penguins 4, Rangers 3 (3OT)
Game 2: Rangers 5, Penguins 2
Game 3: Penguins 7, Rangers 4
Game 4: Penguins 7, Rangers 2
Game 5: Rangers 5, Penguins 3
Game 6: Rangers 5, Penguins 3
Game 7: Rangers 4, Penguins 3 (OT)

First Round – Western Conference

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (COL wins series 4-0)
Game 1: Avalanche 7, Predators 2
Game 2: Avalanche 2, Predators 1 (OT)
Game 3: Avalanche 7, Predators 3
Game 4: Avalanche 5, Predators 3

CALGARY FLAMES v. DALLAS STARS (CGY wins series 4-3)
Game 1: Flames 1, Stars 0
Game 2: Stars 2, Flames 0
Game 3: Stars 4, Flames 2
Game 4: Flames 4, Stars 1
Game 5: Flames 3, Stars 1
Game 6: Stars 4, Flames 2
Game 7: Flames 3, Stars 2 (OT)

EDMONTON OILERS vs. LOS ANGELES KINGS (EDM win series 4-3)
Game 1: Kings 4, Oilers 3
Game 2: Oilers 6, Kings 0
Game 3: Oilers 8, Kings 2
Game 4: Kings 4, Oilers 0
Game 5: Kings 5, Oilers 4 (OT)
Game 6: Oilers 4, Kings 2
Game 7: Oilers 2, Kings 0

MINNESOTA WILD v. ST. LOUIS BLUES (STL wins series 4-2)
Game 1: Blues 4, Wild 0
Game 2: Wild 6, Blues 2
Game 3: Wild 5, Blues 1
Game 4: Blues 5, Wild 2
Game 5: Blues 5, Wild 2
Game 6: Blues 5, Wild 1

Avalanche vs. Blues: 5 questions about Second Round series

PHT previews each Second Round playoff series with five questions. In this post, we explore the rematch between the Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues. 

COLORADO AVALANCHE VS. ST. LOUIS BLUES

Game 1 – May 17: Blues at Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 2 – May 19: Blues at Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 21: Avalanche at Blues, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 23: Avalanche at Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 25: Blues at Avalanche, TBD
*Game 6 – May 27: Avalanche at Blues, TBD
*Game 7 – May 29: Blues at Avalanche, TBD

1. Will Cale Makar take over another series?

After having one of the best regular seasons for a defenseman in recent NHL memory, Makar showed up in the First Round against Nashville and absolutely took over in the Avalanche’s four-game sweep. He was a one-man wrecking crew against the Predators, recording 10 points (three goals, seven assists), recording 41 total shot attempts and 20 shots on goal, while also completely controlling the pace of the game. He did all of that in four games!

Makar is a finalist for the Norris Trophy for the second year in a row and is going to be a mainstay in that discussion for the foreseeable future. He is a special, special player and already on the very short list of best players in the league regardless of position. On a team that has Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog it is Makar that has become the must-see player and its most impactful.

[Conn Smythe watch: McDavid, Makar lead after First Round]

2. What will Jordan Binnington do for the Blues?

This might be the difference between the Blues having a chance to win and potentially losing in four or five games. To say that Binnington has been hit-and-miss over the past couple of years would be quite the understatement.

He has not consistently played at the level we saw back in 2019 when he backstopped the Blues to their first ever Stanley Cup, and his playoff performances the past two years were absolutely dreadful. He ended up losing the starting job in the second half of this season to Ville Husso, but was thrust back into the spot when Husso struggled early in the series against the Minnesota Wild. Binnington played very well the rest of that series to help the Blues get through (especially behind a banged up defense) and is heading into the Second Round as the starter once again.

He is going to need to repeat that performance from the First Round to give the Blues a chance.

The concern: Colorado has had his number over the years. In 19 career starts against Colorado, including last year’s First Round playoff matchup (in which the Blues were swept with Binnington in goal) he has a 7-12 record with an .896 save percentage. Not great.

3. Will the Blues defense hold up against Colorado’s offense?

This is the other big question for the Blues. For years defense had been the team’s strength, right up to their Stanley Cup winning team in 2019, but they have rapidly transitioned into more of an offensive, goal scoring team this season where the blue line is probably its biggest question mark. That was true at the start of the season after losing Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn in recent years, and it remains true now in the playoffs where they have dealt with an extensive list of injuries on the blue line. Robert Bortuzzo and Nick Leddy have already been injured this postseason and are probably playing at less than 100 percent right now, while Torey Krug remains out of the lineup.

The Avalanche have one of the league’s best offenses and a defense that, on paper, is probably the most talented in the league.

[NHL Power Rankings: Top Second Round storylines]

4. Can Colorado win a Second Round series?

This is their hurdle. This is the giant obstacle standing in their way. The Avalanche have been one of the league’s best teams over the past five years, have an absolutely loaded roster, and really have no obvious weaknesses on paper. But they can not clear that second round barrier, losing here in each of the past three seasons (after a First Round loss four years ago) to Vegas (six games), Dallas (seven games), and San Jose (seven games). I am a believer that talent ultimately wins out and that teams like this will eventually have their day. It happened for St. Louis after all of those years, it happened for Washington, and it happened for Tampa Bay. The Avalanche arguably have more talent on this roster than all of those teams did.

5. Who will win?

Avalanche in 5

As good as the Blues’ offense is, Colorado is one of the few teams better, while the Avalanche have the superior defense and the better goalie (assuming Darcy Kuemper‘s eye is okay). This is the year the Avalanche get out of the Second Round and continue this core’s quest for a Stanley Cup.

Roundtable: First Round impressions; potential Second Round upsets

Which player or team impressed you the most during the First Round?

Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Does it have to be a player from a team that won? Because Jake Oettinger was unbelievable. Not only in Game 7, but that entire series. I never would have guessed he would take over the job so quickly, especially given the way their depth chart looked at the start of the season, but that net is his now and he looks sensational. What a performance. He almost single handedly willed that team to the Second Round.

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Jake Oettinger impressed me the most in the opening round. He was absolutely sensational, especially in Game 7 when he stopped 64 shots as the Flames threw everything but the kitchen sink at Dallas. It’s too bad the Stars started Oettinger in the minors to start the season, playing Braden Holtby and Anton Khudobin, as they could have finished higher than the first wild card which would have given them possibly an easier matchup.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL contentConnor McDavid. Considering the circumstances, he delivered arguably the best two games of his career in Games 6 and 7 with his team facing elimination against the Kings. In Game 7, with Leon Draisaitl injured and having a reduced impact, McDavid played a whopping 27:23 and factored on both goals in the 2-0 win. Time will tell how much further he can carry the Oilers.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

James O’Brien, NHL writer: As great as Cale Makar was, Connor McDavid was absolutely superhuman. Deep down, I’m not sure how anyone can truly believe that he isn’t the best player in the NHL.

From a team-wide perspective, the Avalanche look like the juggernauts we expected.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Carter Verhaeghe showed us during the regular season he’s a very good player and that performance rolled over into the postseason with 12 points in six games against the Capitals. The loaded Lightning didn’t have room on the roster for him so the Panthers signed him and he’s blossomed with them, becoming one of their most valuable contributors in a lineup that is built to win a Stanley Cup. All of Verhaeghe’s points came at even strength with two of his goals coming via overtime.

Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Which Second Round series has the biggest potential to end in upset?

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: The Blues/Avalanche series. St. Louis has the depth and talent to hang with Colorado, especially after the Blues pretty easily dismantled the Wild to close them out (outscoring MIN 15-5 in Games 4-6). The question mark I have with the Avs is with their mental fortitude – this group has yet to prove it can overcome adversity within a series and still emerge victorious – so if Jordan Binnington can channel the best version of his game and steal one or two wins early on, maybe things will tilt in St. Louis’ favor.

James O’Brien, NHL writer: I’m going to go ahead and cancel out either team in the Battle of Florida, as that seems like cheating.

Despite a pile of serious injuries, the Rangers looked awful against the Penguins, yet advanced for the same reason I picked them to win: they’ve been really, really lucky this season. Few remaining teams maintain those elements of luck like the Rangers still do: a power play that can get hot, some dangerous high-end talent, and Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin could only do so much last round, but absolutely has the ability to swing a series.

Most of the truly flawed playoff teams fell in the First Round, so buckle up for a fun ride.

Adam Gretz, NHL writer: I am going to take the easy way out here and say Florida-Tampa Bay because, well, I am not really sure who the upset would be? I could see either team winning it, and depending on who you see as the favorite (Florida for the better regular season record; Tampa Bay as defending back-to-back champions and with the experience) it could end up as an upset in your eyes. Florida is probably the favorite on paper this season, but I see Tampa Bay winning it. 

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: I don’t know if I would consider it an upset, but the Tampa Bay Lightning finished 12 points behind the Florida Panthers. The Lightning are the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions and seem to be able to turn it on when they need to. The Panthers will need outstanding goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky and I am not sure he is capable of doing so in the playoffs.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: During many postseasons we get a hot goalie — someone who will carry a team through a few rounds, maybe even to a Stanley Cup. As wild as it might be, is it crazy to think Mike Smith can’t keep up this heater he’s been on since April? In 16 regular season and playoff games played since the start of April, Smith has a .943 5-on-5 save percentage and a 2.19 goals saved above average, per Natural Stat Trick. The Flames already almost got goalie’d in the First Round by Jake Oettinger. Maybe Smith can hold the fort while McDavid, Draisaitl, Kane, and Oilers power play lead the way?

The Wraparound: Kuemper ‘eager to get going’ after scary eye injury

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.

• If you missed it, here is your Second Round NHL playoff schedule.

• Some NHL coaching news from Monday: Lane Lambert will replace Barry Trotz behind the Islanders’ bench and Peter DeBoer is out in Vegas.

• What storylines should you be following during the Second Round?

It was a pretty normal game situation with an Avalanche player defending a Predators player in front of Darcy Kuemper‘s crease. But as the Colorado goaltender was tracking the puck as it was coming to the front of the net an errant stick entered his mask and hit his eye.

“I didn’t know what happened until I watched it,” Kuemper said on Sunday. “It happened so quickly. Obviously, pretty scary when your eyes are involved but, you know, I got pretty lucky that it wasn’t worse.

“I think just bad luck.”

Fortunately, there was no damage to Kuemper’s eye, only swelling around his eyelid which forced him to miss the rest of Game 3 and all of Game 4 during their First Round sweep of Nashville. He’s been back at practice since the weekend and is expected to get the Game 1 start when the Avalanche begin their Second Round series against the Blues Tuesday night (9:30 p.m. ET).

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

“For me individually, it’s been great to have that extra time to heal up,” Kuemper said. “We’re biting at the chop to get back playing. Playoffs are the funnest time of year to play. Especially at home here in front of the crowd. The crowd here was so fun [against Nashville], so we’re eager to get going.”

Kuemper, who posted a .942 5-on-5 save percentage against the Predators in three games, per Natural Stat Trick, has impressed head coach Jared Bednar since returning to practice. Colorado has not played since May 9 as they awaited to find out who they would play in the Second Round.

“So that is the one positive for us, [our] goalie will be sharp, ready to go and feel 100 percent,” Bednar said

NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

Game 1: Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports): Brayden Point is likely out for the Lightning tonight after suffering an injury versus Toronto in Game 7 of the First Round. Good thing Tampa Bay is known for its depth, right? The Panthers, meanwhile, will be playing in the Second Round for the first time since 1996. After losing to the Lightning in six games last season, Florida is ready for the rematch. “They’ve been the best the last couple of years,” said forward Sam Reinhart. “Obviously they’re the team everyone wants to be, everyone wants to beat. You start with [Andrei Vasilevskiy], another great series out of him [vs. Maple Leafs]. First and foremost you try to make his life difficult. Their top-end guys are some of the best in the world. It’s going to be a great challenge and we’re up for it.”

Game 1: St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Avalanche vs. Blues

Lightning vs. Panthers
Makar, McDavid lead Conn Smythe watch after First Round
NHL Second Round predictions
Storylines for the NHL’s Second Round

2022 NHL Playoffs: Second Round predictions

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs are now down to eight teams after a First Round where all but two of the higher seeds advanced and we finished with a weekend that gave us five Game 7s.

For the Second Round we have rematches of recent playoff series, plus the first postseason Battle of Alberta since 1991. Will the Panthers end the Lightning’s quest for a three-peat? Can the Rangers continue their magic? Is this the year the Avalanche finally reach the Western Conference Final? Will Brady Tkachuk find himself inside Rogers Place to root on brother Matthew?

On to the Second Round predictions!

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

SECOND ROUND – EASTERN CONFERENCE

PANTHERS vs. LIGHTNING

Adam: Lightning in 7. The Lightning are not the same team that they have been the past two seasons, but you are not going to get rid of them easily. They got through the First Round with Andrei Vasilevskiy looking human. He can be better, and I think he will be. If he is, I am still not sure how anybody beats them. I like their experience and goaltending over a Florida team that was probably very fortunate to get by Washington.

Jake: Lightning in 7. Anyone who doubted the Lightning may be reconsidering how they view this team after Tampa rallied to eliminate Toronto. Simply put, it will take a supreme effort to knock out the Bolts, and while Brayden Point’s injury is cause for concern, I am still going to bet on this championship group to keep hopes of a three-peat alive.

James: Lightning in 6. Here’s a take for you: while the Panthers were exposed at times last go-around with the Lightning, it also felt like their pace made Tampa Bay uncomfortable at times. If the Panthers can take advantage of their younger legs and make this a track meet, the three-peat could go incomplete. There’s concern about all that mileage on the Bolts, but they just keep finding ways to get things done.

Michael: Lightning in 6. The Lightning had a very tough matchup with the Maple Leafs and finally Andrei Vasilevskiy played like his old self in the last four periods of the season. The Lightning have too much experience and will prevail as Sergei Bobrovsky will have his troubles in net in Round 2.

Sean: Panthers in 6. There’s room to improve here for the Cats, especially from Sergei Bobrovsky, who would like to further vanquish his postseason demons. It won’t be easy in this rematch from 2021. The Lightning know how to bounce back from defeats (17-0 since 2020!) and still have Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes. But Tampa Bay has played a lot of hockey over the last two seasons, and this series is the only one this round with a back-to-back scheduled. Is that an edge to Florida? We’ll see. There’s also a revenge factor here from the 2021 series to Carter Verhaeghe wanting to show his old team what they lost.

HURRICANES vs. RANGERS

Adam: Hurricanes in 5. The Rangers have their share of talent, and there is always the chance Igor Shesterkin can go on a heater at any moment and just steal some games, but I don’t see it happening here for the Rangers. They are going to have to play light years better in this round than they did in the First Round if they are going to have any chance of winning, because not only is Carolina younger and faster than Pittsburgh, the Rangers are also not going to be using an AHL goalie in this series. Carolina is the better team and the Rangers have some major defensive issues.

Jake: Hurricanes in 6. This is an intriguing matchup – and not just because it’s the Tony DeAngelo Bowl. On one side, you have an incredibly balanced Hurricanes team, who excel at 5-on-5 play and smother you defensively. On the other side, you have a top-heavy Rangers squad who can seem outmatched at times, but because of their star players and world class goalie, can never be counted out. I’m going with Carolina just because the Rangers have too many holes in their game. New York had the benefit of facing a 3rd-string goalie for most of the Pittsburgh series and a superior team to the Penguins (which I believe the Hurricanes are) would have had no trouble closing the Rangers out after building up that 3-1 series lead.

James: Hurricanes in 5. Perhaps the ramshackle Rangers’ defensive structure won’t be exposed as glaringly against a very different type of possession animal in the up-tempo, puck-chucking Hurricanes. But, seeing a banged-up Penguins team often dominate the Rangers (and negate some of the Igor Shesterkin edge) eased much doubt about this one. Then again, it’s hockey, and the Hurricanes get “goalie’d” about as often as the Penguins, so there’s room for an upset.

Michael: Hurricanes in 7. While Shesterkin played well in Game 7, he really has not played up to his level since March 10. The Hurricanes have home ice advantage and that will be major if it goes seven games. I like the Hurricanes depth at forward to carry them to the series win while Raanta has provided the team with excellent goaltending.

Sean: Rangers in 6. We’ve yet to see regular season Igor Shesterkin in the playoffs and maybe that First Round debut against the Penguins got his feet wet enough that now the Hurricanes could be in trouble. The Rangers did not quit versus Pittsburgh and while pushing a series to seven games could lead to some tired legs, how New York advanced is enough to supply further adrenaline and motivation against Carolina.

Derek Leung/Getty Images

SECOND ROUND – WESTERN CONFERENCE

AVALANCHE vs. BLUES

Adam: Avalanche in 5. My actual prediction for this series is pure chaos. Connor McDavid looks like a man on a mission this postseason and I think he is going to steal a couple of games. But the Flames have the coach, the defense, the depth, and the goalie to get the edge.

Jake: Avalanche in 6. I do think the Blues can challenge the Avalanche, but ultimately I am going to ride with Colorado. They have been able to rest, have the best roster, and seem destined to finally break through. However, we’ll see how powerful the Curse of the Second Round is.

James: Avalanche in 6. Gee, the Blues sure seem to be in a better place than last time these two teams met, when the Avalanche swept them like you’d shoo away a fly. Ryan O’Reilly is the sort of player who could slow down some of Colorado’s weapons, and the Blues have a versatile array of attackers. But the Avalanche are fresh, Cale Makar is at the height of his powers, and the Blues’ blueline personnel can keep up.

Michael: Avalanche in 5. The Oilers will gain a lot of confidence from their first round win and have Connor McDavid carry them once again to victory over their provincial rivals. Calgary had trouble scoring against the Stars (Jake Oettinger was sensational) but it is tougher to score in the playoffs and that will be Calgary’s downfall.

Sean: Avalanche in 6. We’re looking at a Blues team this year with better skill than year’s past. The breakthroughs of Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas helped them to a very good season and helped supplement an already solid offense. But the Avalanche are the Avalanche and they made quick work of the Predators in the First Round. Can Jordan Binnington slow them?I don’t think he can for very long, but just enough to make it a series. Colorado has learned the lessons of the past and what it takes to make a deep playoff run. It’s all there for them this season.

FLAMES vs. OILERS

Adam: Flames in 7. My actual prediction for this series is pure chaos. Connor McDavid looks like a man on a mission this postseason and I think he is going to steal a couple of games. But the Flames have the coach, the defense, the depth, and the goalie to get the edge.

Jake: Flames in 6. The Oilers barely squeaked by the Kings, who were missing their best defenseman and 4th-leading scorer for the entire series. Now Leon Draisaitl is significantly hurt. Calgary should have the advantage here, particularly if Tyler Toffoli and Matthew Tkachuk – who ended slumps in Game 7 with their first goals of the postseason – can catch fire.

James: Flames in 7. We were so, so close to being deprived of a Battle of Alberta, but we’re getting a delicious one. The Flames combine the possession mastery of the Kings (which gave the Oilers fits) with high-end talent that can finish those plays far more often. The Oilers have the highest of high-end talent in Connor McDavid, but a more complete Calgary team takes this.

Michael: Oilers in 6. The Oilers will gain a lot of confidence from their first round win and have Connor McDavid carry them once again to victory over their provincial rivals. Calgary had trouble scoring against the Stars (Jake Oettinger was sensational) but it is tougher to score in the playoffs and that will be Calgary’s downfall.

Sean: Flames in 6. Hard to believe between all the playoff format changes this is the first Battle of Alberta playoff series in 31 years. We’re going to get some very physical games, probably a suspension or three, and some star power between McDavid Gaudreau, Lindholm, Markstrom, Draisaitl, and the rest. While Mike Smith has been on a run of late, I can’t see him out-dueling Markstrom over the course of the series, and I think that will be a huge factor. The Flames got goalie’d by Jake Oettinger in the First Round and I don’t see that happening again here.