To say Round 1 hasn’t gone as people anticipated would be a huge understatement. Columbus sweeping Tampa Bay was one of the biggest upsets in NHL history, but it’s not even the only huge upset we’ve seen already. The other second Wild Card seed, the Colorado Avalanche, will also be going to Round 2. Colorado earned a 5-1 win over Calgary on Friday to advance in just five games.
To be fair, part of the reason we’re seeing these upsets is because Colorado and Columbus weren’t your typical bottom seed teams. In the case of Columbus, the Blue Jackets beefed up at the deadline, adding Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel among others, so they were a far more dangerous team than their record suggested.
The Avalanche were also arguably a better team than their record, though for different reasons. Colorado looked like a serious contender early in the season, but they went on a 6-16-6 run from Dec. 8-Feb. 12 that nearly sank the Avalanche’s season. They had to get red hot again down the stretch to dig themselves out of that hole.
The Avalanche have one of the most dangerous trios in the league in Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog which also makes it hard to ever rule them out. However, their biggest strength in Round 1 ended up being goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The young netminder got a chance to lead the Washington Capitals in the 2018 playoffs, but he struggled and ultimately watched the vast majority of Washington’s Stanley Cup-winning run from the bench. This time around with Colorado he’s taken full advantage of his opportunity, posting a 1.89 GAA and .939 save percentage so far. If he keeps playing like that, then the Avalanche could go far.
GAME 5: TORONTO 2 BOSTON 1 (Maple Leafs lead series 3-2)
Frederik Andersen stopped 28 of 29 Bruins shots. Boston didn’t score on him until there was 44 seconds left in the contest.
At the other end of the ice, Tuukka Rask saved 25 of 27 shots. Both of the goals he allowed were scored on 11 shots in the third period.
David Krejci scored Boston’s lone goal. It was his second goal and third point in five playoff games.
Kasperi Kapanen scored the game-winning goal and registered an assist. He didn’t have any postseason points in this series prior to this contest.
Auston Matthews also found the back of the net for Toronto. He’s up to four goals and five points in five playoff games.
GAME 5: COLORADO 5 CALGARY 1 (Avalanche win series 4-1)
Colin Wilson and Mikko Rantanen led the charge for the Avalanche. Each of them scored two goals and registered an assist. For Rantanen, that gives him five goals and nine points in five games in the 2019 playoffs.
Nathan MacKinnon assisted on three of the Avalanche’s five goals. He has three goals and eight points in five postseason contests this year.
Philipp Grubauer saved 28 of 29 Flames shots. He posted a 1.89 GAA and .939 save percentage in five starts in Round 1.
Mike Smith stopped 27 of 32 shots last night. He had a 3.20 GAA and .917 save percentage in Calgary’s playoff run.
Calgary's lone goal was scored by TJ Brodie. It was his second goal in five playoff contests.