Biggest Takeaways from Friday's NHL Playoff Action
On Friday night there was a ton of amazing action, and some of the biggest takeaways include the Washington Capitals securing control of their destiny, the effect special teams continue to have on the first round and the statement the Los Angeles Kings made by defeating the St. Louis Blues.
There were tons of tremendous moments, overtime action and lessons to be learned, and here are the biggest takeaways from Friday night's NHL playoff action.
James Reimer Is Giving Maple Leafs a Chance to Upset Boston
The Toronto Maple Leafs were victorious against the Boston Bruins, and there will be a Game 6 played at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs stole a pivotal home-ice game from the Bruins, and James Reimer had an amazing performance.
Reimer was great all game, but a majority of his saves came during the last 40:00 of regulation. "Optimus Reim" had 43 saves, and his play should give fans a big reason to be optimistic about Sunday's game on home ice.
The win was huge for Toronto in an elimination game on the road, and it will now have an opportunity to tie things up at home.
David Krejci Gets Shutdown by Toronto, Bruins Offense Struggles as a Result
David Krejci may be the playoff leader in points with 11, plus/minus with a rating of plus-seven and goals with five, but he was a non-factor in Game 5.
Prior to Friday's game against the Leafs, Krejci was simply dominating the competition in all aspects. Krejci looked very human against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5, and part of the reason was because he was limited to one shot.
Krejci's only shot came at even strength in the third period, and he was a non-factor for the Bruins. Thus far the Bruins have been led by Krejci, and if the Leafs continue to shut him down, the Bruins will need to changes their tactics.
The Bruins will be heading on the road for Game 6—to where the team is currently 2-0—and Krejci will have to bounce back.
Special Teams Once Again Are Narrative of New York Rangers' Struggles
The New York Rangers were burnt on both ends of special teams during their Game 5 loss against the Washington Capitals. The Blueshirts went 0-of-4 on the power play, and they gave up a power-play goal that allowed the Capitals to get back in the game.
After Brian Boyle took a retaliatory penalty, the Washington Capitals' Joel Ward only needed seconds to capitalize with a power-play dagger.
Special teams have plagued the Rangers thus far, as they are 2-of-21 on the man advantage through five games played. If the Rangers converted on one of their power-play attempts In Game 5, they likely walk out of Washington with a win.
Washington Capitals Will Control Their Destiny in 1st Round
The Washington Capitals took care of business in Game 5 after dropping both Games 3 and 4. They will control their destiny for the rest of the series, and that is huge for the Capitals going forward.
The Capitals will now have two opportunities to eliminate the Rangers, and they will have home ice for Game 7. This is very important for Washington, because it has dominated the Rangers while on home ice during the past few years.
Rangers haven't won a regulation playoff game in Washington since Game 2 of the 2009 series. Only win since was in 3OT last season.— Ted Starkey (@TedStarkey) May 11, 2013
With the Capitals now in the driver's seat, the law of averages suggests that they will advance to the second round.
Henrik Zetterberg Finally Steps Up for Detroit
Throughout the playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings have needed Henrik Zetterberg to show up, and he came through in the clutch during Game 6. The Red Wings captain had three points, including the game-winning goal, and he is a main reason why there will be a Game 7 in Anaheim.
Zetterberg's Game 6 production matched his previous contributions in the series, and the Red Wings will go as far as he can bring them offensively.
The Ducks were able to complete another comeback in regulation to force overtime, but they weren't able to capitalize during the extra period. This series has been full of excitement for both teams, and Game 7 should be full of intensity on Sunday night. If Zetterberg's play keeps up, the Red Wings may pull off a first-round upset.
Despite the Loss, Things Are Looking Up for Anaheim Ducks
Although the Detroit Red Wings tied the series at 3-3 against the Anaheim Ducks during Game 6, the Ducks are due for a win. They have won all odd numbered games in the series to date, and if the trend continues, they will be sitting pretty for Sunday's Game 7.
Although anything can happen in a pivotal Game 7, the Ducks may gain momentum from this loss like they did after a loss in Game 4. Despite tying the game late in both occasions, the Ducks would go on to lose in overtime.
Another positive for the Ducks is that Game 7 is at home. The Ducks have also played well on home ice all year long, and they will have a chance to improve their home record to 3-1 in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Special Teams Continue to Remain a Game Changer in Playoffs
The biggest narrative of the 2013 Stanley Cup quarterfinals has been the importance of special teams, and Friday's action only reinforces how huge special teams are.
On Friday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to score a short-handed goal, and it got them going in the second period of Game 5. It gave them the first goal of the game, and it provided them with a huge boost.
The Boston Bruins went 0-of-2 on the power play, and surrendering a short-handed goal to the Leafs was a critical mistake in Game 5.
The Bruins weren't able to get momentum going because of James Reimer, and that potentially changes if the Bruins score a power-play goal.
The Washington Capitals scored a game-tying goal in the second period against the Rangers, and conversely the Rangers' power play squandered four opportunities.
Special teams have dominated each series, and generally the team that gets the job done with special teams has been successful.
Jonathan Quick and Kings Prove That 1st 2 Losses Were a Fluke
When the defending Stanley Cup champions went down 2-0 in their series against the St. Louis Blues, there was cause for concern amongst Los Angeles Kings fans, but Friday night gave fans a reason to rejoice.
On Friday night, the Kings eliminated the Blues, and it is evident that the team is now rounding into form. The Kings won four straight games to eliminate the Blues, and a big reason for their turnaround was the play of Jonathan Quick.
After giving up two soft game-winning goals, Quick came back with four straight amazing performances, including 21 saves on Friday night. His play is going to be huge going forward, and he appears to be back on his game.
The Kings were able get a goal from Dustin Penner late in the second period, and they are now starting to resemble the team that won the Stanley Cup last season. With each player on the roster starting to pull their weight, things are looking up for the Kings.
Lack of Scoring Ends St. Louis Blues' Stanley Cup Hopes
The St. Louis Blues may have went up 2-0 in their series against the Los Angeles Kings, but lack of scoring and luck ended their Stanley Cup hopes. In Games 1 and 2, Jonathan Quick gave up some bad goals, but Quick and the Kings recovered as the series continued.
The Blues didn't get consistent offense from T.J. Oshie, David Backes or David Perron, and they didn't win games because they couldn't score enough goals.
The Blues also had some bad bounces and breaks that hurt their chances as well, including a goal by Slava Voynov in Game 5 that squeaked by Brian Elliott. Things got even worse for the Blues and Elliott in Game 6 after Dustin Penner beat the buzzer with a shot that deflected on the way to the net.
It will be a long summer for the Blues, and after two straight quick playoff exits, the team will need to reevaluate its roster for next season.
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