Since the Vancouver Canucks shifted out of the playoff picture three seasons ago, my interest in the postseason has shifted—in some ways, for the better. Now, rather than seeing everything through a Vancouver lens, I'm transfixed by all the matchups, especially with so little to choose between a lot of the teams and so many fresh storylines.
I was 4-4 in my picks after Game 1 but that's fine. There's lots of runway still ahead and it's not like I'm expecting to win the Bracket Challenge.
The Flyers win over the Penguins on Friday that even teams that dominate early can quickly become vulnerable—and from what I saw, Vegas deserved full value for their double-overtime win over L.A. The Golden Knights were dominating the puck possession game before Erik Haula beat Jonathan Quick five-hole off the rush to end it.
I'm still not convinced that the Kings are out of it. Remember a few years back when the Sharks collapsed after going up 3-0 against L.A.? But if Vegas pulls this off and wins the series, good for them. I'll give 'em a well-deserved round of applause—then probably pick against them in the next round, too. Not ready to embrace their #Cupin1 hashtag just yet.
As someone who does some work in the live entertainment business, though, I definitely do embrace the pageantry that Vegas brings to their game presentation. Obviously, duels between Knights and Kings can't work everywhere but I think the Golden Knights are raising the bar for what's possible. I hope it inspires other teams around the league to get more creative with the show they deliver for their fans at games.
We've got a full-day slate of action ahead for Saturday, starting with Nashville/Colorado and Tampa Bay/New Jersey at noon PT and wrapping up with Anaheim/San Jose for the late game tonight.
I fell in love with the first round back when it was the only time we'd have hockey on TV every night and all day on the weekends. Nowadays, we have multiple games on the networks and even more options available through livestreaming every day during the regular season, so it's not an anomaly anymore. But this is when reputations are made—how great is it to see guys like Taylor Hall and Evander Kane re-writing their stories in their first-ever playoff opportunities? And what about that sad violin by Patrik Laine last night?
He gets away with this stuff because he backs it up on the ice.
Anyway, back to our Vancouver Canucks. Here's a rundown of news you may have missed this week.
First off, Brock Boeser has done some interviews, clarifying the details of his wrist injury.
He consulted with the same doctor that did his surgery on that wrist when he was back at North Dakota last year.
“It’s the same wrist but a different injury,” Boeser said, adding that his wrist should require only a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection and four weeks of immobilization.
Boeser also talks about his scary back injury and his determination not to go through a sophomore slump next season, when he knows he'll get tougher matchups and less open ice.
A trip to Hawaii with his family is also in the cards, but his Instagram seems to indicate that for now, he's still back home in Minnesota, spending time with the dog he adopted at the All-Star Game.
Add one more Canuck to the World Championship roster. Along with Bo Horvat with Team Canada, Anders Nilsson has been the first goalie named to the Swedish team.
Speaking of Swedes, Jonathan Dahlen has officially made his move to North America, joining up with the Utica Comets. He'll make his debut on Saturday in Belleville.
With two games left in the regular season, the Comets are now three points behind Rochester, sitting fourth in the AHL's North Division. The only way Utica can move up and avoid playing the Toronto Marlies in the first round is if the Comets win both of their games this weekend and Rochester loses to Syracuse on Saturday. With even a single point, the Americans would clinch third place.
Also speaking of Swedes, Elias Pettersson's Vaxjo Lakers are through to the SHL Final, where they'll face Skelleftea in a best-of-seven series starting next Tuesday. Skelleftea has the two top-scoring players in the SHL playoffs, one-time Los Angeles Kings forward Oscar Moller and 26-year-old Par Lindholm. Both were part of Sweden's team at the Olympics last February.
Pettersson ranks fifth overall in playoff scoring and leads Vaxjo, with nine points in nine games. He scored the overtime series-winning goal to sweep Malmo in the semifinal.
Finally, in Finland, Olli Juolevi and Petrus Palmu's TPS Turku was knocked out of the Liiga playoffs by Tappara on Monday. Juolevi got stronger as the playoffs went on, finishing with seven points in 10 games, while Palmu had 4-1-5.
Turku will be off for more than a week before playing a bronze-medal game against HIFK on April 20. After that, Juolevi is expected to either join up with the Comets or with Finland at the World Championships.