While MLB struggles to maintain consistent scheduling for all teams due to COVID, the NHL Playoffs (except Tampa Bay-Columbus causing the delay of Boston-Carolina due to 5 OT) continually provide results.
Friday’s schedule sees the remainder of Opening Round matchups complete Game 2 of their series. Here are the five interesting notes around the league.
Dillon Dube (CGY) – Flames rookie center has four goals in his first six postseason games. He’s also scored the first goal in three straight postseason games. (I’m waiting on hockey-reference to fix their site so I can provide more insight on this.) Dube scored just seven goals in his 45 regular-season games, and entered Game 1 against Dallas with one goal in his last 17 games overall.
Miro Heiskanen (DAL) – Stars second-year defenseman scored two goals in Dallas’s 5-4 victory against Calgary last night, giving him seven points this postseason. He tied Quinn Hughes of Vancouver for most points by a defenseman (7).
Andrei Svechnikov (CAR) – Hurricanes forward scored his fourth goal in five postseason games, tying Anthony Beauvillier (NYI) & Bo Horvat (VAN) for highest goals per game this postseason (players still playing). Svechnikov represents the youth movement in the 2020 postseason, as five of the seven leading goal scorers are 24 or younger.
New York Islanders – Entering Game 2 of their series against Washington, the Islanders lead the Eastern Conference averaging 3.4 goals per game. New York ranked 12th in the East during the regular season, with a goal per game average of 2.78.
In the last three weeks, sports fans enjoyed seeing their favorite teams participating again. What seems like COVID-19 experiments, especially in MLB, fought through challenging scenarios, implementing the strict procedures and guidelines suggested by experts.
As the smoke clears and the country grows closer to a vaccine, the NHL & NBA begin their postseason round of 16, while MLB continues adjusting as multiple franchises makeup games. August 11 represents the first day of opening-round games in the NHL. Here are the matchups.
August 11 Opening Round Series Games
#2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs #9 Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets and Lightning meet for the second straight postseason. The Presidents Trophy winners in 2018-19, Tampa Bay failed to win a game in their Opening Round matchup against Columbus.
2019 Opening Round Series Totals
>>Scored 19 of final 30 goals
Last season’s postseason result represents the opposite of the previous seven regular-season matchups, with the Lightning winning all seven by a wide margin.
Tampa Bay – Columbus
Last 7 Regular Season Games
>>Won only matchup this season
#4 Boston Bruins vs #6 Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina and Boston resume their Adams Division rivalry for the second straight postseason. Boston swept Carolina in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals.
2019 Conference Finals
2009 East Quarters
1999 East Quarters
1991 Adams Semis
1990 Adams Semis
The two teams only played once this season, with Boston shutting out Carolina 2-0. In the Qualifying round, Boston’s power play struggled, while Carolina held the Rangers to one goal in 14 power-play opportunities.
Boston PP vs Carolina PK
#3 Dallas Stars vs #8 Calgary Flames
Despite both teams residing in the same conference all but three seasons since Calgary joined the NHL as the Atlanta Flames in 1972-73, this is only the second time facing each other in the postseason. Dallas, then the Minnesota North Stars, defeated Calgary in six games in the 1981 Stanley Cup Semifinals.
Dallas lost two of three of their qualifying seeding matchups, keeping a trend they established before COVID-19.
Last Nine Games
>>Won last qualifying seeding game
The two teams faced each other three times this season, with Calgary winning two of three (one in OT). However, dating back to 2017, the Stars own an advantage. During the qualifying round, Calgary’s power-play performed well. Their five PPG tied with Edmonton for the most.
Last Nine Matchups
>2-1-0 this season
>>3-5 in last game played
Most Power-Play Goals
#1 Vegas Golden Knights vs #12 Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago, winners of three Stanley Cups since 2010, defeated #5 seed Edmonton in the qualifying round. Chicago’s 72 points represented the fewest in the Western Conference. Vegas joined the NHL in 2017-18, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season. Vegas owns a dominating advantage over Chicago in their nine regular-season matchups, winning eight of them.
Nine Career Matchups
Both teams ranked among the leaders for goals scored in the qualifying round.
Perhaps NHL fans in the East bubble city should worry after watching the Maple Leafs lose Game 1 of their qualifying round against Columbus. Despite owning the second most Stanley Cup Championships with 13, the Leafs own the longest drought in the NHL without winning one. The last time Toronto won the Stanley Cup was 1967, the year BEFORE expansion.
Joonas Korpisalo joined John Gibson, Jonas Hiller, Andrew Raycroft, and Chris Osgood to post shutouts in their first postseason start (since 1994). John Tavares (known as pajama boy on Long Island) is a -9 with one goal and 17 shots in his last seven postseason games with Toronto.
In the East’s seeding qualifying round, Philadelphia defeated Boston, 4-1. Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (21/355) stopped 34 shots breaking Pete Peeters’ (22/235) team record as the youngest to win a postseason game. The Flyers won nine of their last ten games before COVID-19 stopped the NHL season on March 10.
Colorado, who finished the regular season 18-5-2 in their last 25 games, defeated St. Louis 2-1 in the West’s seeding qualifying round. Former Maple Leaf Nazem Kadri scored with .1 remaining after Gabriel Landeskog hit the post.
Arizona won their first postseason game since 2012, defeating Nashville 4-3 in Game 1. The Coyotes franchise (joined the NHL in 1979-80 as the original Winnipeg Jets) are looking to win their second opening round series after losing 12 straight from 1988-2011.
Wild goaltender Alex Stalock made his first postseason start since April 28, 2014 and second of his career, as Minnesota shutout Vancouver, 3-0. Jared Spurgeon recorded his second career multi-goal postseason game, becoming the first defenseman in franchise history to accomplish that. The Wild joined Montreal, Chicago, and Arizona as double-digit seeds to win Game 1.
Fewest Career Postseason Games, Defenseman
Recorded Two or more Multiple Goals
>>4 Years, 3 Months & 9 Days between multi-goal games in postseason
NY Mess: The Mets lost 4-0 to Atlanta, losing their fifth straight. New York totaled ten hits but left 13 men on base. In six of their seven losses, the Mets are 14-78 with RISP, with only four hits driving in runs. The Mets loss on Sunday marked the first time since May 3, 1987, they failed to score collecting ten or more hits.
Cespedes opts out: While his teammates lost to the Braves, Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes failed to alert the team he wouldn’t make Sunday’s game. Mets officials released a statement that Cespedes won’t return to the team this season, opting out for COVID related issues.
Tigers strike: Detroit reliever Tyler Anderson struck out nine straight Reds, tying an AL record while setting one for relievers.
All Rise: Aaron Judge is returning to his rookie form of 52 HR, becoming the ninth player in Yankees’ history to homer in five straight games. In the eighth inning, Judge’s second HR (league-leading sixth of the season) gave New York their sixth straight victory, completing a sweep over Boston.
Pence breaks snide: Hunter Pence singled in his first AB on Sunday, snapping an 0-23 streak to start the season. The previous two NL players to start the season hitless in his first 23 AB were Austin Hedges in 2017 and Brett Hayes in 2014.
Most AB Without a Hit to Start Season
MLB, Since 2014
Orioles Sweep: Baltimore completed a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay on Sunday, their first against the Rays since 2012, and overall since 2018.
In this insane world of COVID-19, Esports is now non-fiction. Adjusting to the times, here are notes of interest surrounding professional sports in the United States.
While MLB adjusts to multiple teams administering quarantine guidelines, seven-inning doubleheaders, unequal amount of games, changes to extra-innings, and other rules, the NBA and NHL both resume this week minus seven and eight teams, respectively.
Five games on Saturday pushed the total to 13 since the restart on Thursday. COVID NBA produces dominant displays of offense, as point totals continue to soar.
NBA Per Game Totals
3PT FG Pct.
While the rest of the league benefits, the Lakers 35.4 shooting percentage in their 109-92 loss to Toronto equaled their lowest since 2016.
T.J. Warren scored a career-high 53 for Indiana, matching an NBA season-high 20 field goals as the Pacers 127-121 victory moved them one-game ahead of Philadelphia for 5th in the East.
Indiana Pacers History
>>Career-high (previous was 40)
Most FG Made, Single-Game
2019-20 NBA Season
T.J. Warren, IND>>
James Harden, HOU
Anthony Davis, LAL
Seven Players with 19
>> Career-High (Previous was 40)
n the West, New Orleans fell to 0-2 in the restart, falling 126-103 to the Clippers. Zion Williamson did not factor again, producing seven points in 14 minutes.
Totals, last two games
A pair of 12 seeds won Game 1, as Chicago (11 points fewer than Edmonton) and Montreal (15 fewer than Pittsburgh) took 1-0 series leads. In his first playoff game, rookie Dominik Kubalik set an NHL postseason record, registering five points (2 goals, three assists) in Chicago’s 6-4 victory.
Most Points, NHL History
Rookies,First Career Playoff Game
Dominik Kubalik, CHI
Daryl Evans, LAK
24 Players with 3
In the East, Jeff Petry scored his first career postseason goal (19th game) with 6:03 remaining in the first OT, as Montreal defeated Pittsburgh, 3-2. The game featured two penalty shots, as each team blew chances to put the game away. Game 2 is on Monday.
Overtime Postseason Penalty Shots
Jonathan Drouin, MTL
W, 3-2 (0T)
Aleksander Barkov, FLA
L, 2-1 (2 OT)
Aleksey Morozov, PIT
L, 3-2 (OT)
Joe Juneau, WSH
L, 3-2 (4 OT)
The New York Islanders won two of their final 13 games (2-7-4) before COVID-19 but entered Toronto winners of four straight against first-round opponent Florida. The Panthers scoring troubles against the Islanders continued, scoring one goal for the third consecutive game. The Islanders, outscoring Florida 7-3 in their last three wins, can take a 2-0 series lead on Tuesday.
In the East’s 6-11 matchup, the Rangers fell 3-2 to Carolina. New York was 0-7 on the power play in the loss.