April 27 2017 09:00AM
The dust has settled on the first round and here at NHL Numbers we have yet another second round series to preview, the New York Rangers/Ottawa Senators Eastern Conference Semifinal. After a hard-hitting series against Montreal in which ultimately speed and skill prevailed, the Rangers will head to Ottawa starting on Thursday night to meet their opponents, fresh off their own triumph over the injury-depleted Boston Bruins.
That series saw big performances from Ottawa’s big guns, such as Derick Brassard, Bobby Ryan, and of course the sensational Erik Karlsson. The big question that this series will answer is whether New York’s speed game can break through Ottawa’s defensive system, and who will prevail among the two Swedish superstars on opposite ends of the ice, Henrik Lundqvist or the aforementioned Erik Karlsson.
April 27 2017 07:00AM
© Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
The narrative surrounding Alexander Radulov has completely flipped in the past year. When he was inked by the Montreal Canadiens to a one-year, $5.75 million deal on the first day of free agency, not long after the team had pulled off a massively polarizing swap of P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, it was met with a scoff and a laugh. Radulov, an enigmatic Russian who was too lazy and into himself for the NHL attempting another comeback with this impending disaster in Montreal. Comedy!
But Radulov was a hit this year. He was Montreal's most valuable player (not named Carey Price) for good chunks of the season, and dragged the team on his back throughout the first round of the playoffs. The team didn't win, but Radulov's performance resulted in him being called 'the best player in the league' by the notoriously xenophobic Don Cherry.
Now nobody's laughing at the idea of Radulov, finally, at the age of 30, living up to his hype and becoming a star player in the NHL. In fact, he's going to be heading into free agency this summer not as a question mark maybe worth a one-year gamble, but instead as a player who's certainly going to lock down a lucrative, long-term contract.
April 26 2017 10:49AM
© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Stanley Cup Final.
Well, not actually, because anything can happen, a key player can get injured, a goalie can get hot, and a surprise team can win, but the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins are clearly the two best teams in the NHL. They finished with the best and second best records during the regular season, their underlying numbers match it, and whoever comes out of this series will become the favourite to win it all.
The Penguins have been the obstacle in the path to success for the Capitals forever now. Ever since Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby entered the league in 2005-06, the Penguins have come out on top. Last season, Pittsburgh beat Washington in what was as tight and well played of a series as you'll see en route to their second Stanley Cup in the Crosby era. In fact, Washington has only even beaten Pittsburgh in a playoff series once in franchise history, and that came back in 1994.
We ask every single season, but can this be Washington's year? Can Alex Ovechkin finally beat Sidney Crosby? This might be his best — and last — chance.
April 26 2017 09:28AM
There's only one Conn Smythe, but that doesn't mean we can't hand out our own playoff MVP awards. Let's take one last look back on the first round, and hand out an award for each winning team's most valuable player.
Ottawa Senators - Erik Karlsson: He averaged a point a game,
averaging over 30 minutes played each game, and was second on the team
with a 60.55 xGF%.
April 25 2017 05:00PM
PHOTO CREDIT: ERIC HARTLINE-USA TODAY SPORTS
The Oilers assigned Jesse Puljujarvi to Finland’s World Championship team last week, ending his rookie season in North America. Puljujarvi, along with Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, was thought of as one of the three 2016 draftees who were NHL-ready going into the season. Matthews and Laine had amazing rookie campaigns, but Puljujarvi’s wasn’t on the same level, spending time in both Edmonton and AHL Bakersfield this year. Puljujarvi didn’t have the same immediate impact as a Matthews or Laine, or even a Tkachuk. He didn’t dress in every game and he didn’t play much when did, averaging only 11:15 minutes.