Hecatomb in the first round

Hecatomb in the first round


The first round of the playoffs is often the most unpredictable, but there we will have seen it all with the elimination of last year's finalists, the Lightning and the Avalanche, as well as that of the Bruins who had 135 points in the regular season. 

The irony is that most upsets come from a goaltender at the top of his game making the difference , but only Akira Schmid of the Devils responds to this explanation for now. He impresses me.

Ilya Samsonov was good for the Leafs in their triumph over the Lightning, but nothing more. Sergei Bobrovsky hasn't been exceptional with the Panthers against the Bruins. I liked Philipp Grubauer of the Kraken, but not enough to say he made a difference against the Avalanche. 

What's also exceptional is that big hitters like Andrei Vasilevskiy (Lightning) and Connor Hellebuyck (Jets) didn't do the job, not to mention Linus Ullmark (Bruins) who faltered after a dream season. 

Attitude changes 

Another reason for the usual surprises in the first round is that the mood of the players changes. When everything is swimming in oil in the season, we play without asking too many questions, but in the playoffs, we expect results and if they are not there, the pressure goes up a notch with each defeat.  

The favorites are under the reflectors while the underdogs have nothing to lose and everything to prove. If we give them hope, it becomes dangerous. For example, no one believed in the Kraken's chances of beating the defending champions, but they won the first game in Denver and it got complicated afterwards for Nathan MacKinnon's troupe. 

If the Avalanche had won the first matchup 5-0, the message would have been clear and would have gone like this: “Hey Seattle! You don't belong on the same rink as us. »  

Juggling the goalies 

I have rarely seen so much juggling of goaltenders in the playoffs. This is generally unsavory, and besides, few coaches excel at this exercise. Maybe that's what made the difference in the Panthers-Bruins series. I knew Alex Lyon wouldn't beat the Bruins and Paul Maurice threw Bobrovsky into the fray in Game 4 at 1-2 in the series. It was the right time. 

However, Jim Montgomery waited until Game 7 to use Jeremy Swayman, and that was because Ullmark had clearly lost his confidence. I saw it in his eyes, and his teammates saw it too.

Montgomery had no choice. I would have used Swayman after the 6-3 loss in Game 2 or after the 4-3 loss in Game 5. It was a lot to ask Swayman to suddenly arrive at the 7th duel and make a difference.  

Also, if Montgomery intended to use Ullmark every game, why didn't he set him up that way throughout the season rather than alternate? He went from a rhythm of one or two games a week to three or four. It's not the same, especially under pressure. 

Other changes 

In addition to the Panthers and Bruins, we also have seen goalie changes with the Devils, Wild and Hurricanes and it's pretty rare to see so many. 

Jack Campbell saved game number four in relief for the Oilers, but to my surprise, coach Jay Woodcroft returned with Stuart Skinner in the next game. It's either that he has total confidence in Skinner, or that he has no confidence in Campbell. 

Another serious management error was that of the Wild coach , Dean Evason, when he picked Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 2 in Dallas. Filip Gustavsson stole Game 1 with 51 saves in a 3-2 overtime win. Why come back with Fleury and risk breaking Gustavsson's momentum?  

– Interview by Gilles Moffet



I have the impression that we saw Patrice Bergeron for the last time. Too bad the Bruins fell in the first round, because expectations were high. The fact remains that after such a great season in Boston, this is the almost perfect context to hang up your skates. His back hernia looks like a message from fate. 


Once again, the Winnipeg Jets failed in the playoffs. Coach Rick Bowness is old school and he wasn't shy about speaking his mind after the ultimate loss to the Golden Knights. Some of its veterans did not appreciate it and they too spoke out, and that is today's generation. I don't think many players dared to publicly contradict Scotty Bowman back then. Maybe it's time to change the core of this team. And no matter who stays, Bowness has been reconfirmed in his role. The Jets will have good players available, including, possibly, Pierre-Luc Dubois. 


With Boston, Colorado and Tampa on vacation, my prediction of a Toronto vs. Edmonton final takes on added value. In fact, any of the remaining eight teams can win the Stanley Cup. I predict wins for the Leafs over Florida, the Devils over the Hurricanes, the Oilers over Vegas and Seattle over Dallas.  


< p>There is at least one good news for the Canadiens since the London Knights defender excels in the Ontario League playoffs. We can say that the 20-year-old hope of CH has come a long way in two years and that he has taken charge. It is closing in on the National League.

Hecatomb in the first round