Biggest surprises of the NHL playoffs so far

With the second round of the NHL playoffs underway, the chances of a perfect bracket are slim to none. According to NHL.com, there are only five perfect brackets remaining.

Because of the chaos, there have been many surprises since the first game of the 2019 NHL playoffs. We look at the biggest shockers of the first round.

Lightning sent home thanks to Blue Jackets

  • Led by head coach John Tortorella , the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the President’s Trophy winners, even after Tampa’s historical regular season.
  • The Lightning were one of the best offensive teams in the league this season but were outscored, 19-8, in the series and had scarce offensive output from their best players.
  • With 128 points during the regular season, Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov registered only two assists in four games for the Bolts.
  • This is the first time in NHL history that a No. 1 overall seed has been swept in the first round of the playoffs.

The Jets were grounded after six games

  • After making it to the Western Conference finals last season, the Winnipeg Jets were the most favored Canadian squad to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • The Jets lost in six games to the St. Louis Blues, who have won 12 of their past 16 games dating back to March 16.
  • All of Winnipeg’s losses came by one goal, as well as both their victories.
  • Even in their own arena during Game 5, the Jets allowed three goals in the third period and lost, 3-2.

Some of the league’s top players were shut down

  • Arguably the best player of the past decade, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby registered one assist in the playoffs — the lowest postseason point total of his career. He finished with a minus-4 in four games, the worst mark of his postseason career.
  • Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau also finished with one assist in five games with a minus-2 rating after scoring 99 points in the regular season.
  • Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist for the Predators and was not much of a factor, and the Dallas Stars took advantage, taking the series in six games.
  • Steven Stamkos also had a goal and an assist, with a plus/minus of minus-8. You could say he was a defensive liability for the Lightning.

Golden Knights get robbed in Game 7

  • Up 3-0 in Game 7, Vegas’ Cody Eakin cross-checked San Jose’s Joe Pavelski to the ice. Eakin was given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct.
  • San Jose had an unreal comeback, netting four goals on the 5-minute power play to take the lead, with two goals coming from Logan Couture.
  • The Sharks won with two minutes left in overtime thanks to a goal from Barclay Goodrow, who only played two shifts the entire period.
  • On Thursday, the NHL apologized to the Golden Knights and admitted the referees were incorrect on Eakin’s penalty. That does not change anything for the Golden Knights.

A “Bunch of Jerks” beat the defending champs on the road in Game 7

  • One of the biggest underdogs in the playoffs, the Carolina Hurricanes took the Washington Capitals to double overtime and advanced on a goal from Brock McGinn.
  • The Caps’ Alex Ovechkin had seven goals in the series but finished with a minus-2. He was a force in the offensive end but not so much on defense.
  • Warren Foegele led the Canes with four goals. In 77 regular- season games, Foegele had 10 total goals. The third liner has been great in his first playoff series.
  • The Hurricanes advance to the second round for the first time since 2009, when they made it to the Eastern Conference finals.

By: Trevor Drake

Original Article

John Tortorella Not Backing Down From Anthem Debate


Written by Kevin Allen at USA Today.com

U.S. World Cup of Hockey coachJohn Tortorella said he has heard from “a number” of people regarding his Tuesday vow to bench any player who doesn’t stand for the national anthem and he hasn’t changed his mind.

“I’m not backing off — I’ll tell you right now,” Tortorella said. “Try to understand me. I’m not criticizing anybody for stepping up and putting their thoughts out there about things. I’m the furthest thing away from being anything political. No chance I’m involved in that stuff. (But) this is your anthem. This your flag. That shouldn’t come into play for a second.”

Tortorella has a son serving in the military overseas, and on Wednesday a military representative made a scheduled inspirational speech to the players as part of their preparation to represent USA in the World Cup of Hockey, starting Sept. 17 in Toronto.

“We are playing hockey,” Tortorella said. “Other people are doing real stuff. This gentleman who spoke to us this morning is doing the real stuff. Life and death. We just want to give to our country in our own little way. Quite honestly we are entertainers. What this man talked about in our locker room and what he does casts a huge shadow over us as far as what we’re doing.”

Tortorella, whose regular job is coaching the Columbus Blue Jackets, is known in the NHL for his fiery and passionate approach to his job and life.

“I don’t know what’s being written out there and I don’t care,” Tortorella said.  “I really don’t. I feel very strongly of being able to say what you want to say in your way about (being) upset with things. You’re dead on. You have your right to do that. But to bring that flag and anthem into it and drag that down, no way. So I feel strongly both ways.”

Tortorella said some players have talked to him about his benching comment, made in an interview with ESPN, and their reaction was positive.

“I don’t think it was anything — everyone knows the situation. There is so much respect for that flag and that anthem that it is just coming out,” said San Jose Sharks forwardJoe Pavelski, who was named USA’s captain on Wednesday.

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Ryan Johansen and John Tortorella Rift in Full Bloom

Written by Sam Blazer at Bloguin

It was confirmed by Aaron Portzline that John Tortorella did in fact say that Ryan Johansen was “out of shape” during the course of the first period of Tortorella’s first game behind the bench. It was initially reported by Larry Brooks of the New York Post but it took nearly a week for the news to be confirmed. During the course of Portzline’s interview with Johansen, it also came out that Tortorella believed Johansen’s recent practice was a “struggle” which surprised Johansen who said “I didn’t think practice was that tough, I felt pretty good.”

This will do nothing to quell the rumors that have been circulating around the Blue Jackets. Tortorella benched Johansen for the last six or so minutes of the first period in his first game behind the bench. This caused a ripple effect throughout Columbus, which began to worry that Johansen may be unhappy with the treatment he was given by the tough Tortorella.

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The Blue Jackets Fire Todd Richards and Hire John Tortorella

Written by Liam McGuire at Bloguin

This is a big one. The Columbus Blue Jackets have fired head coach Todd Richards after a dismal 0-7 start and replaced him with, wait for it, John Tortorella.

The Blue Jackets basically just gave up on their season and fired a pretty good head coach in Todd Richards and replaced him with the man who’s either going to lead them to a Stanley Cup or drag the team to the ground and watch it implode further. Richards was in a tough spot following his team’s brutal start, but it wasn’t his fault. The team was generating plenty of shot attempts, but their goaltending has been atrocious, which has led to giving up bad goals at bad times. Tortorella comes into a pretty good situation as the Blue Jackets can’t possibly post worse results than they have, so he’ll look good by default.

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