Updated: Aug 24
Sorry for the delay, folks! I have had a crazy busy week and I haven't been able to get around to writing. But make no mistake, I have been watching hockey! So since I've delayed this long, I won't keep you waiting any longer. Let's get right into the action.
Washington Capitals Fire Head Coach Todd Reirden
Following Washington's 5-game elimination at the hands of their ex-head coach Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders, Washington announced on Sunday that head coach Todd Reirden would not be behind the bench in 2020-21.
The Capitals had been faltering even before the NHL resume, going 7-9-3 in their last 19 games before the season was put on pause. Washington and Reirden also suffered a 7-game elimination in 2019 at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round.
Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement, "We would like to thank Todd for all of his hard work and efforts with our organization. Todd has been a big part of our team for more than half a decade, including our Stanley Cup run in 2018, and we wish him and his family all the best moving forward."
Reirden was Barry Trotz's assistant coach for four seasons in Washington, including their 2018 Stanley Cup victory. Soon after Trotz's departure from Washington, Reirden was named head coach on June 29th, 2018 and sported an 89-46-16 record in two seasons with Washington.
Marc-Andre Fleury's Agent Tweets Controversial Photo
Fleury's agent Allan Walsh posted a controversial photo to his private Twitter account on Saturday. The photo depicted Marc-Andre Fluery in goal for the Vegas Golden Knights, with a sword plunged through his back, and the name "DeBoer" written on the blade.
The photo is obviously a jab at Vegas' head coach Peter DeBoer. Allan Walsh seemed to be disgruntled over DeBoer's decision to start Fleury in goal only twice this postseason, opting to start Robin Lehner instead.
Fearing that this Tweet would stir controversy and hard feelings in the locker room, Fleury asked his agent to delete the photo, which he did. But by then it was too late. The photo has flooded the internet. On Sunday, the three-time Stanley Cup champion addressed the situation, where he said that he is okay with being Vegas' backup goaltender. "I've known these guys for a while now and I don't know, I just want to put this behind and move on. All I care about is winning and what's best for the team and they know that" said Fleury.
Robin Lehner was a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2019 when he was the starting goaltender for the New York Islanders.
Stanley Cup Semi-Finals Preview
Philadelphia Flyers (1) vs. New York Islanders (6)
After embarrassing the Washington Capitals in 5 games, the New York Islanders are finally turning heads. New York's 5-on-5 play can rival any in the league, and surprisingly enough, they are a lot of people's favorites to beat Philadelphia despite coming in as the underdogs at a +104 to win the series. The Islanders player to watch for this series is Anthony Beauvillier. Beauvillier leads the team in post season goals (6) he is ranked 6th on the team in assists (3) and 2nd on the team in points (9)
Josh Bailey is also another player to keep a watchful eye on. He is first on the team in assists (8) and points (10)
Perhaps the only reason so many people are choosing New York to upset Philadelphia is because the Flyers had a hard time putting Montreal away in the first round. Most people were expecting the 1st seed Philadelphia Flyers to crush the Montreal Canadiens, but when the Canadiens gave Philly a run for their money and stretched the series to 6 games, Flyers fans and sports analysts around the country started to worry.
The Philadelphia Flyers player to watch obviously has to be Carter Hart. The 22 year old goaltender made headlines in the first round against Montreal after posting two consecutive shutouts, a .943 SV% (3rd in the whole league during the postseason, wow that's impressive for a 22 year old) and a 1.71 GAA. Hart became the third goalie in Flyers history with consecutive postseason shutouts, joining Bernie Parent and Michael Leighton. One thing is for sure, we are witnessing a future star blossom right before our eyes. If Carter Hart can continue on this pace, we could see a future franchise goaltender in Philadelphia.
Maybe momentum and confidence won't be on Philadelphia's side heading into the series against the Islanders. New York has all the confidence and momentum on their side right now. After already delivering one upset, they are hungry to do it again.
Game one of this series is on Monday, August 24th at 7:00 PM on NBCSN.
Tampa Bay Lightning (2) vs. Boston Bruins (4)
Despite losing star goaltender Tuukka Rask in a rather mysterious and controversial decision, the Boston Bruins were still able to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes in 5 games. Backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak helped bring the team to victory, and Boston forward David Krejci has shined during the postseason with 9 points on 3 goals and 6 assists. Krejci comes into game 1 carrying a six-game point streak. Krejci is Boston's player to watch this series.
Tampa Bay has their star goalie and young x-factor forward as well. 2019 Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy sports a 2020 postseason record of 6-2-0, with a dazzling 1.98 GAA and .927 SV%. Lightning forward Brayden Point put the team on his back and was the saving grace for them in their series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. In the first round, Point had 7 points on 4 goals and 3 assists, making him the Lighting player to watch this series. It is also worth noting that Tampa Bay will be without their captain Steven Stamkos in game 1.
Game 1 of this series kicks off on Sunday, August 23rd at 8:00 PM on NBC.
Vegas Golden Knights (1) vs. Vancouver Canucks (5)
The Vancouver Canucks are emerging as the biggest underdog story in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs. After defeating the heavily favored and defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in 6 games, Vancouver sets their sights on staying hot and carrying it into the next round. Elias Pettersson is the player to watch for Vancouver in this series. Pettersson had nine points in the first round against St. Louis, and was sharp with the special teams with two goals and three assists on the power play. Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom played every single minute for the team in the first round. He is currently tied for first in wins with 7. There were a few times during the first round when the games should have been a lot closer than they were, but Markstrom stood on his head in difficult situations and got the job done.
If you read the above excerpt I wrote about the Marc-Andre Fleury drama, you'll be all up to date on the current goalie situation that Vegas is dealing with. Vegas finished off the Chicago Blackhawks in 5 games in the first round, and the shining star for Vegas was Reilly Smith. Smith was solid in the regular season, but seemed to come back even stronger after the NHL resume. Smith is the Golden Knights player to watch this series.
Game 1 kicks off on Sunday, August 23rd at 10:30 PM on NBCSN.
Colorado Avalanche (2) vs. Dallas Stars (3)
This series has already begun. On Saturday, August 22nd the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche kicked off the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The underdog Dallas Stars beat the heavily favored Colorado Avalanche 5-3, and lead the series 1-0. A lot of people are choosing Colorado as the favorite team to represent the West in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Colorado Avalanche player to watch this series is Nathan MacKinnon. What did you expect? The guy is a superstar. He is considered a top 5 center in the league, and currently carries a stat line of 16 points on 6 goals and 10 assists. Another player to keep an eye on for Colorado is Nazem Kadri. Kadri carries 12 points on 6 goals and 6 assists. Kadri was traded to Colorado in July of 2019 from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Avalanche were hoping to add to their depth with Kadri, but got so much more than they bargained for. Nazem Kadri has been one of the brightest veteran players on this Avalanche team, ranking 6th on the team in points during the regular season, 5th in goals, and 9th in assists.
Dallas played a tough series against the Calgary Flames in the first round. The Stars eliminated the Flames in 6 games. The player to watch in this series for the Stars has to be defenesman Miro Heiskanen. Heiskanen ranks first on the team in points and assists this postseason (13 points, 10 assists) and 4th on the team in goals with 3. Dallas' veteran goaltender Ben Bishop was sidelined during the first round against Calgary, leaving the job in net up to Anton Khudobin. Khudobin has not disappointed. Khudobin sports a .917 SV%.
Game 2 of this series is on Monday, August 24th at 9:45 PM on NBCSN. Dallas leads the series 1-0.
So there it is, people! The latest news and Stanley Cup playoffs update. After a wild first round full of ups and downs, we can only hope that the second round can deliver the same. All 8 teams that remain at this point are so close they can taste it. But the competition only gets harder from here. As I've stated in previous articles, the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy in sports to win. This is where it starts to get serious. If your team has made it this far, congrats to you and good luck in the second round!