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CHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-4-18

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

#2 Acadie-Bathurst Titan 1 @ #1 Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 4 (Game 1)
Finals
Armada leads series 1-0

C Alex Barré-Boulet , BLB: 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 7/13 FO
Playoff Totals: 14 GP, 12-13-25, +14, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 53-66-116, +28, 67 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 65 GP, 29-52-81, +10, 42 PIM

Bolt prospect Alex Barré-Boulet set up Charles-Antoine Giguere (undrafted) for the game-opening goal just 1:14 into game, and then scored a talley of his own in the 3rd precisely 1:14 after the Titan’s lone goal of the game, a short-handed marker by Justin Ducharme (2018 draft eligible). The Armada built up a three goal lead en route to a Game 1 win in the QMJHL finals. These two teams battle again in Game 2 in Boisbriand on Saturday.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-4-18 Lightning at Bruins

Lightning weather the storm, rain down the thunder on Boston in OT.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

TB-4
BOS-3 (OT)

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 3-1

Andrei Vasilevsiy allowed 3 goals on 32 shots for the OT victory. Still don't think we've seen the full array of what he's capable of, and maybe that should give us all some comfort. He's due to get hot any time now.

First Period
4:36 TB Point (3), (unassisted)
9:53 TB Kucherov (6), (Hedman, Stamkos)(PP)
15:28 BOS Pastrnak (6), (Krug, Marchand)(PP)

Second Period
2:04 BOS Bergeron (5), (Krug)(PP)

Third Period
6:36 BOS Bergeron (6), (Marchand)(SH)
12:56 TB Stamkos (3), (Miller)

Overtime
3:18 TB Girardi (2), (Killorn, Gourde)

Dan Girardi was the game's first star.

You had to know Boston was going to play desperate in this one and give the Lightning their best punch. This wasn't the Picasso that Game Three was. There were times (the Second Period) when it hardly qualified as Dogs Playing Poker. In the end, though, the Lightning grinded out a playoff road win by any means necessary, and they overcame a fair measure of adversity along the way to get there. The First Period was surprisingly flat for the Bruins, going down 2-0 early in what really appeared to be an extension of Game Three with the Lightning's speed running afoul of Boston at even strength. Boston's expected best punch didn't come until the Second Period when they outshot Tampa Bay 14-4 and eventually equalized the game. That period may have been Boston's best of this series, outside of the debacle in the Third Period in Tampa in Game One. Tampa Bay got back on their horse in the Third Period only to surrender a lead goal to the Bruins shorthanded. Things looked bleak until a borderline play by Kucherov on the forecheck created a turnover that the slumbering Steven Stamkos blistered past Rask on the one-timer, and we were headed to Overtime. In the extra session, Tampa Bay was under heavy duress early with Boston knowing they needed a quick winner with Krug out injured (ankle/foot) and down to 5 d-men. They weathered a couple of tough shifts by Boston and then started to apply some forecheck of their own to manufacture a greasy goal by Dan Girardi, of all people, and the Lightning are on the precipice of advancing to the Eastern Conference Final (and retiring, mercifully, Rene Rancourt forever).

Boston's faithful will surely flog the fact that Stamkos' goal resulted from an uncalled hold by Nikita Kucherov on the forecheck. Yes, it could've been a call. So could the hook that was put on Kucherov on a breakaway late in the Third Period, as well. I'm amazed that the national hockey media and fans are somehow surprised at the phenomenon of refs swallowing their whistles in the final ten minutes of playoff games. It's only been that way since the dawn of time.

And, to be blunt, nobody from Boston or their water carriers on Bruins Pravda (NBCSN) has the right to lecture anyone about officiating or justice when they continue to look the other way when Brad Marchand does things like he did tonight with an uncalled low bridge hit on Ryan Callahan that he followed up by licking Ryan Callahan on the nose in a resulting scrum. This is a player who, you'll recall, bit a linesman in Game Two. So do you get to lecture us about officiating or justice? Um, no. Brad Marchand should've been suspended after Game Two and he should've been kicked out of the game in Game Four. Point blank. And, if he was wearing a Lightning jersey and not vice versa, we all know he probably would have been. The league, its officials, the national media, and Bruins fans continue to coddle this psychopath and if he played in most any other city in the league he'd have been Sean Avery'ed a long time ago.

Game Five the Lightning have a glorious opportunity to complete the impressive task of getting through the first two rounds in just 10 games, minimizing attrition and maximizing the conservation of energy that will be needed for the heavy lifting yet to come. And, in Tampa Bay, Jon Cooper will have the opportunity to play with the shiny new toy he was given in Boston now that he'll have last change. Specifically, he knows he can spot the Point line against the Krejci line on and off throughout the game and anytime that matchup came up in Game Three and Game Four the Point line absolutely dominated the matchup and created several goals. Between that and the very real possibility Krug isn't coming back in this series, Sunday has an opportunity to be quite a day in Lightning history.

P.S. Did you see those two laser one-timer goals, Lightning fans? Stop with the hand-wringing about Kucherov and Stamkos. They're going to be fine.

Anthony Cirelli was +1 with 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 12:35. He was also 36% on 11 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-3-18

Ontario Hockey League

Hamilton Bulldogs 4 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 3 (OT) (Game 1)
OHL Finals
Bulldogs lead series 1-0

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Playoff Totals: 19 GP, 16-13-29, +13, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-43-85, +53, 30 PIM
’16-’17 Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, SSM: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 19 GP, 13-15-28, +3, 10 PIM
Season Totals (SSM): 28 GP, 18-21-39, +14, 14 PIM
Season Totals (ER): 30 GP, 15-29-44, +10, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 33-50-83, +24, 30 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 42-67-109, +67, 37 PIM

MacKenzie Entwistle (ARI, 2017 3rd round pick) scored his second goal of the game just shy of two minutes into overtime for the Game 1 winner, as the Bulldogs steal a road game off the Soo. The Greyhounds spotted Hamilton three goals with Entwistle opening the scoring late in the 1st, followed by goals from Robert Thomas (STL, 2017 1st round pick) and Brandon Saigeon (2018 draft eligible) early in the 2nd. But the Soo would regroup and some familiar faces to Lightning prospect followers would rise up. After Barrett Hayton (2018 draft eligible) broke the seal, Bolt prospects Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh would help spark with rally, scoring in the 2nd and 3rd to eventually force OT. These two teams are back at it Saturday night for Game 3 in Saulte Ste. Marie.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-3-18 Crunch at Marlies

Crunch drop opening round of heavyweight matchup with Toronto.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

SYR-4
TOR-6

Toronto Leads the Series 1-0

Eddie Pasquale allowed 5 goals on 20 shots for the loss. Yuck. That stat line may beg for a goaltending change for Game Two.

First Period
8:33 TOR Brooks (1), (Marincin, Marchment)
18:34 SYR Joseph (3), (unassisted)(SH)
19:16 TOR Timashov (4), (Moore, Mueller)(PP)

Second Period
10:55 SYR Verhaeghe (1), (Stephens)(PP)
15:15 TOR Dermott (1), (Johnsson, Grundstrom)(PP)

Third Period
7:56 TOR Marchment (1), (Gauthier, Marincin)
8:53 SYR Lynch (1), (Condra, Volkov)
12:46 TOR Engvall (3), (Moore, Brooks)
18:55 SYR Lynch (2), (Joseph, Verhaeghe)
19:23 TOR Smith (1), (Gauthier)(EN)

Mathieu Joseph was the game's third star.

Toronto draws first blood in what may be, arguably, the de fact Eastern Conference Final in a clash of two AHL titans. But the Crunch should not despair. They can still accomplish what they came to Toronto to do and they actually outshot the high-powered Marlies by a comfortable 32-21 margin (albeit score effects in the Third Period were heavily involved). This feels like a long series going into it, and each team's going to have to weather some haymakers if they want the prize.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-2-18 Lightning at Bruins

Eye opening victory from a resolute Lightning team puts Bruins on their heels.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

TB-4
BOS-1

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory. He didn't have a ton of work, but when a handful of key situational saves were needed he sure as heck made them. He's starting to climb into this series now and assert himself.

First Period
1:47 TB Palat (3), (Johnson, Stralman)
3:19 TB Palat (4), (Hedman, Girardi)
14:12 BOS Bergeron (4), (Pastrnak, Nash)(PP)
16:43 TB Cirelli (1), (Gourde, McDonagh)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
19:18 TB Stamkos (2), (Miller, Hedman)(PP)(EN)

Ondrej Palat, Vasilevskiy, and Ryan McDonagh were the game's three stars.

That was eye opening. Certainly not what I expected. There was a lot made about the scene shifting to Boston and the Bruins' ability to get the Bergeron line away from the checking of the Point line. It backfired, because the Point line feasted early and often against the Krejci line. It was such a squash Boston had to eventually concede the matchup and move the Bergeron line back on the Point line. It's the only threesome that the Bruins have that skate well enough to nullify what that line does. The problem is, if those two lines cancel the Lightning clearly have the depth advantage. Even with the top Stamkos line lacking effectiveness, the third and fourth lines have a clear quality advantage thus far in the series. And there's the conundrum for the Bruins. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

The other big takeaway from the night was the Lightning really coming into their own defensively as 5-man units. Boston couldn't even get through the neutral zone at key moments of the game and the Lightning were super efficient at moving the puck out of their own zone. Some Bruins fans were even booing their team in frustration as the Lightning continued to choke the life out of their attack. The Bruins coaching staff will make adjustments to get through the neutral zone better, but what you saw tonight was a stunning display of offensive power from a team that didn't do much of that the second half of the regular season.

The Lightning just accomplished what they came to do in Boston. Now they're playing with the house's money going into Game Four. Steal that one and they've got a shot to shorten this series, surprisingly, and set themselves up in a really nice position moving forward. Expect Boston's best shot, though, so Vasilevskiy's going to need to be big for the Lightning to pull the next encounter out.

Anthony Cirelli had his first NHL playoff goal and was +1 with 5 shots in 11:44. He was also 17% on 6 draws. Should've had a second goal after being pulled down chasing a loose puck on a break with an empty net in front of him. He was excellent tonight, even filling some extra shifts with Cedric Paquette serving an extended penalty for a fight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-1-18

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

#9 Charlottetown Islanders 1 @ #1 Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 6 (Game 7)
Semifinals
Armada wins series 4-3

C Alex Barré-Boulet , BLB: 1-3-4, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 7/12 FO, *Second Star*
Playoff Totals: 13 GP, 11-12-23, +14, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 53-66-116, +28, 67 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 65 GP, 29-52-81, +10, 42 PIM

The Armada scored early and often, pasting six goals on the scoreboard at the Centre d'excellence Sports Rousseau, punching their ticket to the QMJHL Finals against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Bolt prospect Alex Barré-Boulet scored short-handed early in the 1st period in what would be the eventual Game 7 winner, adding an additional three assists to earn a Second Star. Barre-Boulet’s linemate Alexandre Alain (undrafted) notched a hat trick and five points to pace the Armada. Barre-Boulet, Alain, and teammate Drake Batherson (OTT, 2017 4th round pick) own the Top 3 slots in practically every playoff offensive statistical category.

The top-two regular season teams in the Q will square off Friday night in Boisbriand for Game 1. The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the Hamilton Bulldogs, the two best OHL regular season teams, kick off the OHL Finals Thursday in Sault Ste. Marie. Game 1 of the WHL Finals between the Swift Current Broncos and the Everett Silvertips gets underway Friday night in Swift Current.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-30-18

Ontario Hockey League

#2 Kitchener Rangers 3 @ #1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4 @ (2OT) (Game 7)
Western Conference Finals
Soo win series 4-3

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 2-1-3, +3, 0 PIM, 6 SOG, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 18 GP, 15-13-28, +14, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-43-85, +53, 30 PIM
’16-’17 Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, SSM: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 6 SOG, 3/6 FO
Playoff Totals: 18 GP, 12-15-27, +3, 10 PIM
Season Totals (SSM): 28 GP, 18-21-39, +14, 14 PIM
Season Totals (ER): 30 GP, 15-29-44, +10, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 33-50-83, +24, 30 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 42-67-109, +67, 37 PIM

Jack Kopacka (ANA, 2016 4th round pick) scored the double OT Game 7 winner at the 84:00 mark, and the Soo punch their ticket to OHL Finals against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Bolt prospect Boris Katchouk scored the Greyhounds first two goals and teamed with fellow Lighting prospect Taylor Raddysh to set up Morgan Frost (PHI, 2017 1st round pick) for the Soo’s third goal. The Rangers fought back after each Greyhound goal, knotting the game at 1-1, 2-2, and finally at 3-3 with just 52 seconds left in regulation. Katchouk earned First Star honors for his two goal, three point effort, and now leads the OHL playoffs in goals, points, and short-handed goals. The date of Game 1 of the OHL Finals has not yet been announced.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-30-18 Bruins at Lightning

Point line redemption levels series against hated Bruins.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

BOS-2
TB-4

Series Tied 1-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 20 shots for the win. Horribly soft goal on the second goal, but the team didn't pay for it ultimately. He did make several key situational saves up until that point.

First Period
11:47 TB Gourde (2), (Point, Sergachev)(PP)
18:30 BOS McAvoy (1), (Bergeron, Marchand)

Second Period
10:14 TB Johnson (3), (Point, Palat)

Third Period
14:08 TB Palat (2), (Point)
15:58 BOS Krug (3), (Pastrnak, Marchand)
19:34 TB Point (2), (Hedman)(EN)

Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point, and Ryan Callahan were the game's three stars.

That was a Lightning team with urgency and passion and they absolutely deserved the victory in Game Two no matter the protestations from Bruins Pravda, er NBCSN. The way was led by the redemption of Brayden Point's line, which rebounded from the shame of their Game One performance against Boston's Bergeron line to outright win that matchup in Game Two. If that line outplays the Bergeron line, Boston can't win this series. Flat out. So, we'll see what Boston's response is moving forward in Game Three. Also of note in this game was the physicality of the Lightning as they absolutely pasted the Bruins throughout the match. J.T. Miller. Ryan Callahan. Cedric Paquette. Ondrej Palat. Up and down the Lightning lineup they handed out heavy hits and, I think, took Boston completely off guard with the sheer volume of violence they could deploy. With that said, Boston's a big nasty team and I expect them to try and thug it up on their home ice after getting their punk cards pulled in Game Two. The Lightning need to be ready to sustain the physical intensity they showed tonight. Can't be a one night show.

Boston's going to complain about the uncalled slash on the Marchand breakaway in the Third Period. Cry me a river. Brad Marchand got away with literally biting a linesman in a First Period. Not kidding. He literally bit a linesman on the arm. No call. Tim Schaller punches Vasilevskiy in the mask skating by his crease in the Second Period. No call. You can lecture me all about the finer points of normal game officiating the second you cut crap like that and throwing skate blades and licking your opponents out of your game. Not before.

Tampa Bay gave themselves a chance with the win tonight, but the heaviest lifting is left to come. Task one: get at least one of Game Three or Four in Boston and, at a minimum, make this a 3-game series where the Lightning have home ice. It's going to take an even sharper, direct, and physical performance than what we saw tonight, but I think this Lightning team has it in them. They've had the possession advantage, big time, in both games. If they mix in the snarl to go with it and the Point line continues to at least break even with the Bergeron line I like Tampa Bay's chances.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 2 shots and was 75% on 8 draws in 11:09.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-29-18

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

#1 Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 2 @ #9 Charlottetown Islanders 3 (OT) (Game 6)
Semifinals
Series tied at 3-3

C Alex Barré-Boulet , BLB: 1-1-2, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 8/15 FO
Playoff Totals: 12 GP, 10-9-19, +11, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 53-66-116, +28, 67 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 65 GP, 29-52-81, +10, 42 PIM

Cameron Askew (undrafted) scored a power play OT game-winner for Charlottetown, forcing a Game 7 Tuesday night back in Boisbriand. The Islanders led after the 1st period on a Brett Budgell (2019 draft eligible) power play marker. Lightning prospect Alex Barré-Boulet scored a power play goal of his own early in the 2nd period to knot the score, and then assisted on an Alexandre Alain (undrafted) power play goal later in the period. But the Armada failed to hold the 2-1 lead, surrendering a late 3rd period tally by Nikita Alexandrov (2019 draft eligible) to force overtime.

Ontario Hockey League

#1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 3 @ #2 Kitchener Rangers 4 (OT) (Game 6)
Western Conference Finals
Series tied at 3-3

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Playoff Totals: 17 GP, 13-12-25, +11, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-43-85, +53, 30 PIM
’16-’17 Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, SSM: 2-0-2, -2, 0 PIM, 10 SOG, *Third Star*
Playoff Totals: 17 GP, 12-14-26, +3, 10 PIM
Season Totals (SSM): 28 GP, 18-21-39, +14, 14 PIM
Season Totals (ER): 30 GP, 15-29-44, +10, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 33-50-83, +24, 30 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 42-67-109, +67, 37 PIM

Kole Sherwood (undrafted) scored the OT game-winner for Kitchener, forcing a Game 7 Monday night back in Sault Ste. Marie. Bolt prospect Taylor Raddysh fired 10 shots, scoring twice in the 3rd period, including a power play marker 85 seconds left in regulation to overcome a 3-1 deficit and force overtime. Raddysh earned the Third Star in the losing effort on the road. Ranger netminder Mario Culina (undrafted) stopped 45 Soo shots for the win. Joseph Garreffa and Givani Smith (DET, 2016 2nd round pick) both scored a goal and added two assists to pace Kitchener.

NHL Playoff Game Day: 4-28-18 Bruins at Lightning

Bruins top line humbles Lightning in Game One defeat.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

BOS-6
TB-2

Boston Leads the Series 1-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 23 shots for the loss. None of those goals were soft, necessarily, but at the end of the day Rask made a ton of big situational saves and Vasilevskiy didn't. He needs to rise to the occasion in this moment.

First Period
17:11 BOS Nash (2), (Pastrnak, Bergeron)(PP)

Second Period
0:42 BOS Bergeron (2), (Pastrnak, Marchand)
2:31 TB Girardi (1), (Paquette, Hedman)
12:33 BOS Nash (3), (Krejci, Pastrnak)
13:22 TB Sergachev (2), (Point, Gourde)(PP)

Third Period
3:32 BOS Marchand (4), (McAvoy)
10:11 BOS Bergeron, (Marchand, Pastrnak)
13:41 BOS DeBrusk (6), (Marchand, McAvoy)(EN)

Well that was certainly frustrating. The Lightning actually had a very good first 20 minutes and could've easily built themselves a lead were it not for some excellent situational saves by Rask, only to see a penalty and a faceoff loss turn into a greasy goal by Boston to stake them to the 1-0 lead at the opening intermission. The Lightning then promptly failed to show up for the opening shift of the Second Period and quickly found themselves down 2-0 before starting to find their legs in the middle frame. They got the score to 3-2 after 40 minutes and had actually carried the bulk of the play at 5v5 up until that point and then they just completely laid an egg against Boston's top line in the Third Period and ended up getting blown out.

Bottom line up front: I think the Lightning are the deeper of the two teams. I think the first and third lines, in particular, had pretty good games today even though they really failed to find the scoresheet largely due to Rask's heroics. None of that matters, though, if the Bruins' top line is allowed to run wild to the tune of 3 goals and 11 points, collectively. The Lightning's second line of Palat/Point/Johnson drew that matchup in this game and they absolutely got eaten alive, whether it was Point losing key draws to Bergeron or Johnson losing his mark in and around the circles in the defensve zone or atop the blue paint. Of the three guys on that line, I think Palat's the only one who had any bright moments in this game and Johnson, in particular, got absolutely abused by Marchand and later Bergeron. So, I think Jon Cooper's got a lot of soul searching to do in order to find some better matchups. And, honestly, that could mean moving Gourde onto that line (who played really well) in Johnson's place or it could mean moving Kucherov onto that line and giving him the challenge of trying to best Boston's best. It's a problem that will require an innovative solution that isn't entirely clear to me at this juncture.

Boston's accomplished everything they came to Tampa to achieve by taking home ice in Game One. Game Two is an opportunity for them to try to shorten this series while the Lightning will just be trying to stay, realistically, alive. Back against the wall time already. All hands on deck.

One other thing I want to say after this game is that I think it's a joke the way the NHL coddles the Boston Bruins. Rask has a hissy fit and does something incredibly dangerous throwing a skate blade on a call that the referees properly made and they do nothing. Guys are cross checking guys in the kidneys and slashing guys after the whistle and the Bruins have the gall to stay out during Second Intermission to talk to the refs as if they were aggrieved. Why do they feel so entitled? Maybe because the league treats the Bruins like an overly permissive parent treats a spoiled brat grandchild. "Oh, excuse me little Brad. If it wouldn't be too much trouble could you, um, well, try not to lick another person without their permission. Please?" When you limply rebuke things like that and turn a blind eye to the kind of crap Rask pulled today it contributes to the appearance of lawlessness in the league, at least where the Bruins and a handful of the league's other "chosen grandchildren" teams are involved. And, frankly, it's not a good look.

Anthony Cirelli had 1 shot and 2 hits in 13:37 and was 54% on 13 draws. I thought that third line with Gourde and Killorn on his wings was pretty dynamite and I'm a little surprised they didn't pop one in. I'm a little concerned that Cirelli appeared to have some heavy legs in this game at times, but all in all he was a positive for the Lightning in an otherwise dim afternoon.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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