Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The first week of the NHL playoffs is full of fast starts and blowouts

A two-goal lead is the safest lead in the first round of the NHL playoffs.

Three-goal lead? inaccessible. Are you left behind in the game? well good luck.

First week of the NHL playoffs It has been the exact opposite of the regular season which was filled with multi-goal comebacks and fiery finishes. The team that scores first has won an astonishing 26 of the post-season 32 games. Only one team – Pittsburgh – has eroded short of more than a goal. and 14 games are decided by two or more goals (excluding blank-netters).

And a lot of them have happened too.

“In the first period, you can put it off, which is somewhat unfortunate and somewhat unexpected,” said coach John Cooper of back-to-back Stanley Cup winners Tampa Bay. “It’s an aberration because, for me, in a game that has two months of the biggest playoff action any game can deliver, it’s probably been one of the more heavy playoffs we’ve ever seen.” is.”

Only three going to overtime from Monday and only two others in the final horn of the third period made the decision with a goal. But six of the eight series were tied 2 to four matches – the most matches in league history in a single round.

The increase, combined with the quality of teams involved in penalty calls and power-play goals, contributed to uneven starts in the playoffs after the regular season with 42% of games resulting in some sort of comeback win. Every team, except the Philadelphia Flyers, rallied from a two-goal deficit, while teams crossed the three-goal gap 19 times.

“Good teams know how to call games off,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said on Tuesday. “In the regular season, you just don’t dial-in and you have some teams that don’t do that often. At this time of year, guys know what needs to be done: you manage the puck on the blue line. You have to be ready to go into the shooting lane, you might have to hit a punch in the head. I think that’s what you do in the playoffs.”

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With the notable exception of the rough-and-tumble Dallas-Calgary series The goal is not hard to achieve, which is more similar to old-fashioned playoff hockey. Scoring is also up compared to the regular season: 6.5 goals per game compared to 6.2, the highest since the salary cap era began in 2005.

However, how goals are being scored is quite different.

About a quarter of all goals scored have come on the power play, up from 19% in the regular season. The league reported that 78% of goals scored during the season came on par – tied for the second highest since the expansion era began in 1967 – compared to just 62% in the playoffs.

Asked why so many games have been one-sided, Pittsburgh defenseman Chris Letang said: “We see a lot more power play in the post season than in previous games. Maybe that’s one of the factors.”

The 8.22 power plays per game is a significant increase from an average of 6.39 in the last five playoffs and an average of 5.78 during the regular season. This is a direct result of more minor penalties: more than 10 per game, less than 6.5 during the season.

This has made a strong power play and penalty kills even more important than at this time of year.

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Take Colorado for example. The Avalanche scored playoff-leading seven power-play goals on 16 occasions en route to sweeping The Nashville Predators became the first team to advance till the second round.

They are the exception so far. Even though the combined score of the games was 156–54, blank-net goals widened the margin and many close games looked like they were out of hand.

“You can work out the score,” Minnesota coach Dean Evans said in the middle of his team’s series against rival St. “Every game has been close. There is a separation after the game is over, but I can tell you from my end of the game that we have won, they have been tight till the end. ,

Viewership backs that up. Turner Sports said the ratings are up about 50% from last year and 2019, and last week ESPN also reported tracking playoff hockey.

However, close games do not mean much return. Known as the “Comeback Cats” during the season, the Presidents Trophy winners Florida Panthers have done it just once, although it also came at a critical time for their series. against Washington.

Falling behind just isn’t a recipe for success in the first round, which can be explained by all eight teams in the Eastern Conference, which have a 100-point season and most of the West are even.

“Elite teams are playing now,” said Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour. “It’s hard to come back.”


Associated Press Sports Writers Dave Campbell, Aaron Beard and Will Graves contributed.


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