NHL Review May 12, 2021
MAPLE LEAFS, CANADIENS SET TO CLASH IN FIRST ROUND MATCHUP
A playoff series 42 years in the making will take place during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs when two Original Six franchises clash for their 16th all-time postseason meeting. With Winnipeg’s victory over Vancouver, the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs (35-13-6, 76 points) will face off against the fourth-seeded Montreal Canadiens (24-21-10, 58 points) in the playoffs for the first time since 1979. Montreal holds an 8-7 edge in the previous 15 head-to-head showdowns.
The Maple Leafs and Canadiens are set to become the seventh set of clubs with at least 16 meetings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, joining the Canadiens-Bruins (34), Maple Leafs-Red Wings (23), Canadiens-Blackhawks (17), Canadiens-Rangers (16), Maple Leafs-Bruins (16) and Blackhawks-Red Wings (16).
FLIPPING THE CALENDAR BACK TO APRIL 1979
Montreal’s trio of Jacque Lemaire (4-4—8), Larry Robinson (3-5—8) and Guy Lafleur (2-6—8) led all skaters in scoring when the Maple Leafs and Canadiens last met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs during the 1979 Quarterfinals. The Canadiens would complete a four-game sweep of their Original Six rival en route to capturing their 21st of an NHL-record 23 Stanley Cups (since 1917-18).
Robinson had multiple points in three of the four contests, including a multi-goal effort and the overtime winner in Game 4. Excluding total-goal series, Robinson became the sixth defenseman in NHL history to score a series-clinching goal in overtime. The others: Babe Pratt (Game 2 of 1937 QF w/ NYR), Leo Reise Jr. (Game 7 of 1950 SF w/ DET), Bill Barilko (Game 5 of 1951 SCF w/ TOR), Bobby Orr (Game 4 of 1970 SCF w/ BOS) and Andre Dupont (Game 4 of 1975 QF w/ PHI).
WHEELER LEADS WINNIPEG TO VICTORY WITH FOUR-POINT OUTING
Jets captain Blake Wheeler (2-2—4) recorded his 10th career four-point outing, all of which have come in a Jets uniform, to lead his team to victory and help Winnipeg (29-23-3, 61 points) secure its position as the third seed in the Scotia North Division for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Jets are set to face the second-place Oilers (34-18-2, 70 points) in the postseason for the first time in their franchises’ history. However, Edmonton went 6-0 in playoff series against the original Jets – with the last one played more than 30 years ago (1990 DSF).
CAPITALS EDGE BRUINS IN POSTSEASON TUNEUP
Michael Raffl found the back of the net with three seconds remaining in regulation, the second-latest go-ahead goal in Capitals history, to help Washington defeat Boston in each team’s regular-season finale. The Capitals and Bruins, who split their season series with four wins apiece (WSH: 4-4-0; BOS: 4-2-2), will contest the opening game of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday (May 15 at 7:15 p.m. ET on NBC, SN, CBC & TVA Sports).
Washington and Boston are no strangers to tightly-contested affairs. When the two clubs last met in a best-of-seven playoff series during the 2012 Conference Quarterfinals, the Bruins entered as the defending Stanley Cup champions. That series, which featured four overtime contests, was the first in NHL history to feature all seven contests each decided by a one-goal margin. Since then, only one other series has also witnessed the feat (NYR vs. WSH: 2015 R2).
STASTNY SKATES IN 1,000TH CAREER GAME
Paul Stastny skated in his 1,000th career game on Tuesday – a feat five other members of the 2005 NHL Draft class have also accomplished, including two this season: Sidney Crosby (1,039 GP) and Keith Yandle (1,032 GP).
RACE FOR THE PRESIDENTS’ TROPHY TAKES SPOTLIGHT TONIGHT
All eyes will be on the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, with the Golden Knights (39-14-2, 80 points), Avalanche (37-13-4, 78 points) and Maple Leafs (35-13-6, 76 points) all in contention for the end-of-season honor heading into tonight’s action. Vegas OR Colorado has the opportunity to wrap up the award tonight, secure home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs and a First Round meeting against the Blues.
The Golden Knights will clinch the Presidents’ Trophy and the No. 1 seed in the Honda West Division tonight if their points earned against the Sharks exceeds the Avalanche’s points earned against the Kings. Vegas would become the first franchise in the modern era (since 1943-44) to finish No. 1 in the NHL standings within its first four seasons.
The Avalanche will clinch the Presidents’ Trophy tonight if they defeat the Kings in any fashion and the Sharks defeat the Golden Knights in regulation. If Colorado wins both of its final two remaining games in any fashion (tonight and tomorrow vs. LAK), they will claim the Presidents’ Trophy and No. 1 seed in the Honda West Division regardless of any results involving Vegas and Toronto. The Avalanche could finish No. 1 in the League standings for the third time since moving to Denver and first time in 20 years (also 1996-97 and 2000-01).
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, will remain in the hunt for the Presidents’ Trophy if they defeat the Senators in any fashion and the Sharks defeat the Golden Knights in regulation and the Kings defeat the Avalanche in any fashion.