Hockey made Its triumphant return to the ice after being paused since mid-March. After watching all of the games from day one, here are five players who stood out either in a positive or negative way for their teams.
Starting off here and this one is a relatively easy one in Dominik Kubalík of the Chicago Blackhawks. If you watched game one between the Oilers and Blackhawks you saw a lot of offense from the Hawks but also a lot of Dominik Kubalík. As the young left-winger from the Czech Republic tallied five points in the Hawks’ first official game since March. Plus, those five points set an NHL record for most points in a playoff debut ever.
He was named a finalist for the Calder trophy earlier last month, he backed up his claim to try and win the award with his performance against the Oilers, with two goals and three assists. One of the most impressive players on the ice for the Hawks which was all the more surprising considering Jonathan Toews was in peak form with two goals and one assist. In the end, his offensive production helped surge the Blackhawks past the Oilers to start their qualifying round with a 6-4 win.
Next up is someone you wouldn’t have expected to be here at all let alone being considered a positive but New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was one of the lone positives in their loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. He did give up three goals but he got no help from Hart trophy candidate Artemi Panarin in this one so it was all on king Henrik but he certainly did his part in trying to keep an explosive Canes offense at bay.
In the end, he made several great saves as he finished with 34 saves on 37 shots with a save percentage of .919%. Overall he had a really strong game despite the rest of his team not really getting involved in the game until midway through the second period and it seems like the future Hall of Famer still has more left in the tank.
The next two entries on this list are going to be different but will still be the same idea. The entire team of the Montreal Canadians for their gutsy performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins in game number one. Every single member of the team came to play with a purpose and made a major impact including much-maligned forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who scored the first goal of the game early in the first period. Additionally, Carey Price had many fantastic great saves and all the other Montreal players did a phenomenal job.
They played an outstanding team-based game and used their physical style and each other to help overcome the supremely talented Pittsburgh lineup. It was an outstanding hockey game which I highly recommend should be watched if you missed it.
Fourth on the list is the Edmonton Oilers top line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, and Zack Kassian. This line had a brutal game against the Blackhawks and even McDavid was invisible outside of the first few minutes. Most of the Oilers didn’t have a good game today but that is usually the case with some teams, however when your best player and top line is struggling that mightily to get going while the Blackhawks top line was buzzing all game long it is going to become a long game and it was for the Oilers. Hopefully, they come ready to play in game two as it will be a very quick series if they don’t.
Finally, the last one to stand out today although a bit more subtlety was New York Islanders defenseman Devon Toews, who turned in a solid but under the radar performance against the Florida Panthers in game one. Toews had an assist on what turned out to be the game-sealing goal for the Islanders on the power play just seconds into the third period. He ran the power play effectively and was good on both sides of the ice logging 22:40 minutes of ice time but was also solid defensively with three blocked shots.
That was all of the players who stood out in the games today. There actually weren’t too many bad mistakes or very egregious errors since overall most of the games were sloppy but all were exciting and that is what was important. There is another full slate of games on Sunday and through the rest of the week and hopefully, they will continue to be as entertaining as they were on Saturday.
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