• The Panthers, winners of the Presidents’ Trophy, were eliminated from the playoffs after the Lightning carried out a sweep in Game 4. Andrei Vasilevsky uh, uh, a lot to do with it.
• Via the Associated Press: NHL and St. Louis police were reviewing threats made against Nazem Kadri following the Jordan Binington collision before Game 4. To put it mildly, Kadri was a huge factor in Game 4, even beyond a wicked hat trick.
• Adam Gretz reviews the biggest surprises of 2021-22 in the latest PHT Power Rankings.
Game 4: Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Florida Panthers 0 (TBL wins series 4-0)
There are many ways to sum up how explosive the Florida Panthers offense was in 2021-22. In a way: No one ruled them out…until the Lightning did to sweep the Panthers in Game 4 on Monday.
While there were periods in these playoffs (against the Capitals and Lightning) where the Panthers didn’t look like that powerhouse team, the effort was mostly there in Game 4. Tampa Bay slowed Florida , sure, but it does sound like one might have expected the Cats to watch against postseason competition.
For all the volume the Panthers sent Andrei Vasilevskiy, none of it mattered. Scroll down to read more about Vasilevskiy in the 3 star section. The short version, though: he had a 49-save shutout.
Throughout the series, the Panthers managed just three goals in four games. Chances are, Sergei Bobrovsky gave up a tough goal or two. But how much can you blame Bob when he receives no goal support?
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 Second Round schedule, TV info]
Ultimately, the Panthers remain the team with the fewest power-play goals of any team this postseason: one, out of 31 attempts. The Stars fell in the first round and scored more (2 for 24).
On a small sample, you can sometimes lose sight of how bad luck can derail a streak. Not all elements of the Panthers playoff game should be cause for concern.
However, there are lingering questions. Why not try charging with Jonathan Huberdeau and Alexander Barkov earlier? Should we have waited for game 4 to give Joe Thorton and her great body any chance? Has Andrew Brunette experienced enough to get the most out of this power play?
Most hauntingly, the Panthers couldn’t win a single game against the Lightning, even with Tampa Bay missing Brayden Point. Claude GirouxIt’s the kind of rental you can only do a certain number of times (especially with the largely empty closet of newbies). Jonathan Huberdeau will only be a bargain ($5.9 million) for one more season.
Although this core is quite young, you don’t always know when you’ve had your best chance. The Panthers shouldn’t panic, but they’re right to miss the Lightning sweep a lot.
Game 4: Colorado Avalanche 6, St. Louis Blues 3 (COL leads 3-1)
Heading into Game 4, Nazem Kadri – and the Blues‘ / their fans’ reaction to Kadri – was a high priority. Yet in a team sport like hockey, the game on the ice doesn’t always reflect the hottest stories.
This one did.
On the way to the first intermission, David PeronSt. Louis’ goal led 1-0. Then a breathtaking second period truly overwhelmed the senses.
In less than five minutes, the Avalanche have scored four consecutive goals. Kadri waved to Blues fans on every goal and inspired violent reactions on the ice. For a while, the Blues really let Game 4 slip away from them, and the Avalanche took advantage of it.
To their credit, the Blues came back in the second period to close it. Still, one goal from Kadri’s hat-trick was the dagger. Que Perron (or Pavel Buchnevich) suspended or not, the Blues now face the prospect of another quick elimination at the hands of the Avalanche.
It might be wise for them to focus more on stopping Nazem Kadri, rather than chasing him. Just a thought.
Three stars from Monday’s NHL playoffs
1a: Nazem Kadri, Avalanche
Another night where it’s hard to tell who put in the absolute best performance of the night (in a good way). Both Nazem Kadri and Andrei Vasilevskiy have cooked up some sensational plays. The pest-star goalie and the brick-wall goalie also had a big impact beyond Game 4 of their respective series.
Under all this surveillance (and the stress of dealing with often racist threats to collide with a goalkeeper), Kadri tormented the Blues and their fans in Game 4. Impressively, Kadri had an impact even beyond his first playoff hat trick. He also landed an assist Mikko Rantanenis empty-net.
Blues players like David Perron and Pavel Buchnevich lost their temper to Kadri. In doing so, Kadri fired penalties. Frankly, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the extra discipline came with it. (Perron was part of at least of them very dangerous incidents.)
After the best regular season of his career, Nazem Kadri is showing he can be a top player in the playoffs. Maybe that will calm some of the critics of previous playoff suspensions?
(Again, as Game 4 showed us, a lot more could happen between the Blues and Avalanche before this series is over.)
1b. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning
Don’t blame someone if they call Andrei Vasilevskiy “The Closer”.
— NHL (@NHL) May 24, 2022
Again, the Lightning deserve credit as a team for limiting the most dangerous chances. But a 49-save shutout is still impressive work by Andrei Vasilevskiy.
While this is a nocturnal reward, take a step back and consider Vasilevskiy’s talent for stifling the Panthers. He allowed just three goals in those four games, finishing with a .981 save percentage (three goals against on 153 shots faced).
Guardians like Vasilevskiy can sometimes make you look worse than you really are.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has stopped 6.3 goals over expectations at 5-for-5 in this series, 2.1 per 60 minutes.
Since the statistics are available (’08), it is:
– Most 5v5 goals recorded above expectations in a four-game sweep
– Highest recorded 5v5 goals above expectations by 60 in ALL series#GoBolts
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) May 24, 2022
3. Valery Nichushkin (and Bowen Byram), Avalanche
There’s a real argument that David Perron earned 3-star recognition with two goals. Perron scored 1-0 for an early lead and helped the Blues rally during the wacky second half.
But Perron losing his temper helped the Avalanche build the kind of lead that frustrated that rally.
Both Bowen Byram and Valeri Nichushkin had two assists in Blues – Avalanche Game 4. Each player put up some stunning underlying numbers to boot.
Not all teams have the luxury of winning playoff games when players like Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon do not mark. Kadri, Byram, Nichushkin and others helped Colorado win on a relatively quiet night for these go-to players.
TUESDAY NHL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE
Game 4 (CAR leads 2-1): Hurricanes at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 4 (EDM leads 2-1): Flames at Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup Previews
• Avalanche vs. Blues
• Lightning vs. Panthers
• Makar and McDavid lead Conn Smythe’s watch after the first round
• NHL Second Round Predictions
• Scenarios for the NHL’s second round