The second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs begins tonight. If you look at the first round stats, you’ll see Alex Ovechkin’s name prominently featured among the league leaders in several playoff categories.
He is tied for second in scoring with nine points, tied for second with four goals, and tied for the league lead with six power play points. Ovie had five assists, tied for fifth among first-round participants. His 32 hits are tied for fourth-most in the league. Ovechkin skated at average of 24:03 per contest, tops among all forwards in the league.
Except for his team’s result, it was a pretty good first foray into Stanley Cup play for the Caps’ star left wing. As I wrote in the Postgame Notebook on caps.com after Game 7, the history of similar stars points to great things in the future for both Ovechkin and the Caps.
Last night was a good one for both of Washington’s minor league affiliate clubs. The Hershey Bears got a vintage goaltending performance from Frederic Cassivi and an overtime game-winner from Alexandre Giroux to snap a six-game postseason losing streak and stave off elimination in their first-round playoff battle with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Bears now trail the series 3-1 and Game 5 is Friday night at Wachovia Center.
Jared Bednar’s South Carolina Stingrays advanced to the third round of the ECHL playoffs with a 2-0 whitewashing of the Gwinnett Gladiators on Wednesday night at North Charleston Coliseum in the deciding game of the best-of-five series between the two teams. Stingrays netminder Davis Parley made 33 saves to support the offensive contributions of Matt Scherer (his first goal of the playoffs) and Travis Morin (his eighth).
The Stingrays now await the winner of the Columbia-Texas series to determine their opponent for the next round of the Kelly Cup playoffs. Columbia downed Texas in overtime on Wednesday to force a deciding Game 5 in Texas on Friday night.
Here are a few more items of note from around the NHL:
Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, Buffalo’s Jason Pominville and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis were named finalists today for the 2008 Lady Byng Trophy. On Friday, the league will unveil the three finalists for the 2008 Selke Trophy.
FROM THE STAT WIZARDS AT ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU
The Avalanche and Red Wings have met in the playoffs five times before, all in the seven-year span from 1996 to 2002. Colorado won three of the five series and 17 of the 30 games. Patrick Roy started in goal for the Avs in every one of those games while Detroit’s goaltender varied from year to year: Chris Osgood in 1996, Mike Vernon in 1997, Bill Ranford (4 games) and Osgood (2) in 1999, Osgood in 2000, and Dominik Hasek in 2002.
Four current Red Wings and three current Avs played in all five previous Detroit-Colorado series: Nicklas Lidstrom (30 GP, 5-13–18); Darren McCarty (30 GP, 7-3–10); Kris Draper (29 GP, 0-2–2); Kirk Maltby (25 GP, 4-2–6); Joe Sakic (30 GP, 12-13–25); Adam Foote (30 GP, 1-3–4); and Peter Forsberg (29 GP, 12-16–28).
ON THIS DATE IN PLAYOFF HISTORY
April 24, 1994 - Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Gary Suter tallied three goals in a 4-3 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game Four of their Western Conference Quarter-final series. Suter became the eighth defenseman in Stanley Cup playoffs history to post a hat trick, joining Bobby Orr, Dick Redmond, Denis Potvin, Doug Halward, Paul Reinhart (twice), Al Iafrate and Eric Desjardins.
April 24, 1996 - Petr Nedved of the Penguins scored at the 19:15 mark of the fourth overtime period to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 win over Washington in the third-longest (now fifth longest) game in NHL history. Washington’s Joe Juneau was stopped by Ken Wregget on the first penalty shot ever taken in overtime of an?NHL playoff game.
April 24, 1999 - Colorado Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy, the NHL’s all-time leader for postseason victories, earned his 100th career playoff win as the Avalanche defeated San Jose 3–1 to take a 1-0 lead in their Conference Quarter-final series.
April 24, 2003 - After having upset the Detroit Red Wings in four straight games, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim took the first game of their Western Conference Semifinal from the Dallas Stars with a 4–3 overtime victory. Petr Sykora scored the winning goal 48 seconds into the fifth overtime period. The 80:48 of overtime made it the fourth longest game in NHL history.
April 24, 2006 - Colorado Avalanche center Joe Sakic set an NHL playoff record by scoring his seventh career overtime goal in a 5-4 victory at Dallas in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal. Sakic passed the legendary Maurice Richard, who notched six playoff overtime goals in his 18-year Hall of Fame career. Richard had held or shared the League record since March 29, 1951, when he scored his third career playoff OT goal to tie Boston’s Mel Hill.