Holy shit, what a save. What a week. An epic five-game series. A Bloody Friday that saw 5 of 6 teams get whacked in a 13-hour span. #1 seeds dropping down to #4 seeds. Two of the game's greats bounced by #12 seeds. Shea Weber's 200' ENG to seal the fate of the Pens. Tough changes.
Don't forget about the spearing, suspension, run goalies, shitload of fights, tremendous level of intensity in the Qualifiers, and overall tremendous product presented by the NHL, NHLPA, and NBC. It's been an eventful nine days and we're just getting started. We have four best-of-seven rounds to go so buckle up.
A few more buds for your bowl...
*With no games on the slate today, the NHL will hold the Second Phase of its Draft Lottery tonight so we can finally find out which of the eight Qualifying Round flameouts will land Alexis Lafrenière. Minny, Winnipeg, the Rags, Oilers, Pens, Preds, Panthers, and Leafs each have a 12.5% shot at the two-time winner of the CHL Player of the Year Award (Sid is the only other two-time winner). I know people bitched after Phase One because they forgot what "lottery" meant. But setting it up the way they did, the NHL added this extra wrinkle to an unprecedented undertaking that made the QR that much more interesting. I wouldn't mind seeing him end up in Minnesota. He'd be a great jolt for the franchise.
*As the Bobfather notes above, he's begining his downshift into eventually closing up shop. And his shop is being the premier hockey journalist for the better part of the last four decades. If it's breaking news from Bob, you know it's legit. He's as wired in as anyone and gets nearly every killer scoop. I started reading him up at STATE in the early '90s when my roommate's Canadian grandfather would mail his copies (with liner notes) to my roommate after he was done with them. When the Internet arrived, I was able to access more of his work. Getting the NHL Network on local carriers exposed me to his excellent TV work. And when Twitter came along to give us our personalized newsfeeds, I could get his breaking news in real time. If you've been following the NHL for a year or thirty, you know who Bob McKenzie is and you know his word is bond. I'll be looking forward to him dropping major stories from the lake until he finally hangs 'em up completely (and it should be noted that he will be leaving things in capable hands). In the meantime, enjoy those margaritas, Bob.
*I said before last week to not read too much into Round Robin results and my views haven't changed. I think the Blues and Bruins used these games as scrimmages instead of pretending that they were life-and-death games and having to expend much extra emotional energy. We shall see. But it reminds me of that joke from COLORS about the father bull and his son.
*As Andy Strickland broke on Friday, Dale Tallon is officially out in Florida. Despite the statement calling it a "mutual agreement" to search for a new GM, Tallon's deal was done after the season and given the lack of on-ice success during his decade in Sunrise, it's hardly a suprise that the Panthers aren't bringing him back. Though the team won two division titles, it lost in the first round both of those years and was eliminated in four games by the Isles in last week's Qualifying Round. Then there's the matter of the Sergei Bobrovsky signing and how much that might've played into the team's decision. The goalie will be 32 when the next season starts and he still has six more years left at a $10M cap hit/average annual value. His first year numbers in South Florida: 23-19-6, .900, 3.23, 1 SO and 1-3, .901, 3.07 (and way too many soft, early goals that put his team behind the 8-ball). Those will need to improve drastically for the Panthers to get some bang for their buck. Otherwise, that deal could turn into a franchise albatross.
*Let's. Fucking. Go.