Stanley Cup Playoffs Review June 10, 2021
NELSON NETS TWO GOALS TO POWER ISLANDERS INTO STANLEY CUP SEMIFINALS
Brock Nelson scored twice while 2021 NHL Trade Deadline acquisitions Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac also had goals as the Islanders eliminated the Bruins to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Semifinals. New York reached the round before the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in as many years.
Nelson (9-6—15 in 12 GP) scored his eighth and ninth career goals in potential series-clinching games to move past Bobby Nystrom (7-15—22 in 37 GP), Bryan Trottier (7-31—38 in 39 GP) and Denis Potvin (8-16—24 in 41 GP) for sole possession of sixth place on the franchise’s all-time list.
Nelson scored the second series-clinching goal of his NHL career (also Game 4 of 2019 R1), which trails only Mike Bossy (6) and Clark Gillies (4) for the most among Islanders players. The only other skaters in franchise history with two series clinchers are Nystrom, Anthony Beauvillier, Garry Howatt and Ed Westfall.
Semyon Varlamov (23 saves) earned all four wins for the Islanders in the Second Round after Ilya Sorokin had the decision in each New York victory during the First Round. It marked the fourth instance in NHL history in which a team had a different goaltender account for all four wins in consecutive best-of-seven series within a playoff year, following Philadelphia in 1976 (Bernie Parent in QF & Wayne Stephenson in SF) and 1980 (Pete Peeters in QF & Phil Myre in SF) as well as Montreal in 1987 (Patrick Roy in DSF & Brian Hayward in DF).
ISLANDERS TO FACE LIGHTNING IN REMATCH OF 2020 CONFERENCE FINALS
The Islanders will face the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Semifinals, marking the second straight year the teams have met in the round before the Final after Tampa Bay earned a six-game triumph over New York in the 2020 Conference Finals. This year will be much different – rather than meeting in a bubble in Edmonton they will be going head-to-head in front of fan-filled arenas.
New York and Tampa Bay are the first pair of franchises to meet in the final four in consecutive postseasons since Chicago and Los Angeles in the 2013 and 2014 Conference Finals. The last set of teams to do so before the Blackhawks and Kings were the Avalanche and Stars in the 1999 and 2000 Conference Finals.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS CAN ADVANCE TO STANLEY CUP SEMIFINALS TONIGHT
After dropping the first two games of their Second Round series against the Avalanche, the Golden Knights can earn their fourth consecutive win in Game 6 tonight to advance to the Stanley Cup Semifinals. It would mark the third time in the franchise’s first four seasons of existence that they were among the final four teams standing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Vegas can become just the third team in NHL history to reach the final four in three of the franchise’s first four NHL seasons. The Rangers did so in a 10-team League in each of their first four seasons from 1926-27 to 1929-30, while the Blues made the Stanley Cup Final in each of the first three years of the expansion era (1967-68 to 1969-70).
Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has a 15-21 record in 36 career games in which his team can clinch a series (2.61 GAA, .904 SV%, 4 SO), one such win behind Mike Vernon (16-10) for the seventh most series-clinching victories in Stanley Cup Playoffs history. Only Clint Benedict (5) and Chris Osgood (5) have more series-clinching shutouts than Fleury.
The Golden Knights have an all-time series record of 3-1 when they hold a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series – three of those series required a seventh-and-deciding game. The Avalanche trailed 3-2 in a series in the Second Round in both 2019 (4-3 L vs. SJS) and 2020 (4-3 L vs. DAL); in each of those series they forced a Game 7 but failed to advance.
BURAKOVSKY HAS HISTORIC GOALS-PER-GAME RATE WHEN FACING ELIMINATION
Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky (9-4—13 in 13 GP) has scored nine career goals in potential elimination games, including three during the 2020 Second Round in which Colorado rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to force Game 7 against Dallas (3-3—6 in 3 GP).
Burakovsky’s nine goals when facing elimination trail only Alex Ovechkin (13-11—24 in 27 GP), Corey Perry (10-5—15 in 22 GP) and Chris Kreider (10-3—13 in 21 GP) for the most among active NHL players, while his goals-per-game rate under that criteria is the third highest in League history behind two Hockey Hall of Famers (min. 10 GP).
MacKinnon, Matthews and McDavid Voted Hart Trophy Finalists
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid are the three finalists for the 2020-21 Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team,” the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted ballots for the Hart Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winners of the 2021 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone will be revealed during the Stanley Cup Semifinals and Stanley Cup Final, with exact dates, format and times to be announced.
Following are the finalists for the Hart Trophy, in alphabetical order:
Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche
MacKinnon placed fourth in the NHL with a career-high 1.35 points per game (20-45—65 in 48 GP) to propel the Avalanche’s top-ranked offense to the franchise’s third Presidents’ Trophy (also 1996-97 and 2000-01). MacKinnon finished among the League leaders in shots on goal (3rd; 206), power-play points (3rd; 25), assists (5th; 45), points (8th; 65) and power-play assists (t-10th; 17) despite missing eight of Colorado’s 56 contests. He did so on the strength of a career-best 15-game point streak from March 27 – April 28 (9-17—26), the longest by any player in 2020-21 as well as the longest by a member of the Avalanche since 2006-07 (Paul Stastny: 20 GP). The 25-year-old Halifax, N.S., native – a finalist for the second straight year and third time overall after second-place finishes in both 2017-18 and 2019-20 – is looking to become the third Avalanche/Nordiques player to claim the Hart Trophy, following Joe Sakic (2000‑01) and Peter Forsberg (2002-03).
Auston Matthews, C, Toronto Maple Leafs
Matthews scored a League-leading 41 goals in 52 games (41-25—66) to help Toronto earn the top seed in its division for the sixth time in franchise history and first time since 1999-00. He became the first player in Maple Leafs history to capture the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, which first was awarded in 1998-99, as well as the first Toronto player since 1945-46 to pace the NHL in goals (Gaye Stewart). Matthews, who also led the League with 12 game-winning goals and 222 shots on goal, accounted for 22.0 percent of Toronto’s 186 total goals (excluding the shootout) – the highest single-season percentage by any NHL player since 2014-15 (Alex Ovechkin: 22.4% w/ WSH) and the best single-season mark by a Maple Leafs player in the expansion era (since 1967-68). The 23-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., native is Toronto’s first Hart Trophy finalist since 1992-93, when Doug Gilmour finished second in voting, and is vying to become the third player in franchise history to win the award, after Babe Pratt (1943-44) and Ted Kennedy (1954-55).
Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers
McDavid posted a League-best 105 points (33-72—105 in 56 GP) – 21 more than the next-closest player (teammate and reigning Hart Trophy winner Leon Draisaitl) – to power the Oilers to their second straight playoff berth. McDavid, who also topped the League in assists (72), power-play assists (28) and power-play points (37), factored on 57.38 percent of Edmonton’s 183 total goals (excluding the shootout) – the highest single-season percentage in NHL history. He also recorded a League-leading 1.88 points per game – the most by any player since 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux averaged 2.30 (w/ PIT). The 24-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native – who won the Hart Trophy in 2016-17 and finished third in voting in 2018-19 – is seeking to become the fifth player in NHL history to capture the award multiple times before his 25th birthday (age as of final day of regular season), after Wayne Gretzky (6x), Bobby Orr (3x), Gordie Howe (2x) and Ovechkin (2x). A McDavid win also would make the Oilers the first team with different Hart Trophy winners in consecutive seasons since the Bruins in 1968‑69 (Phil Esposito) and 1969-70 (Bobby Orr).
The Hart Memorial Trophy was presented by the NHL in 1960 after the original Hart Trophy was retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The original Hart Trophy was donated to the NHL in 1924 by Dr. David A. Hart, father of Cecil Hart, former manager-coach of the Montreal Canadiens.