Free washer | Five thoughts on the first playoff round

The first elimination round is completed. Here are five thoughts on the series so far.


Published at 1:00 p.m.

1. Arthurs who?

Never trust goalkeepers’ CVs before making our predictions. The team in front of them can falter, or even the goalkeeper, however famous he may be, can also break down.

Connor Hellebuyck had a fantastic end to the season with the Jets. Alexandar Georgiev would have been unable to stop a grapefruit with the Avalanche.

Georgiev was ordinary as expected, but a little less bad than expected. Hellebuyck was poorly protected by a porous defense, but he was the first to admit his breakdown in confidence. The first allowed 15 goals, the second, although a finalist for the Vézina Trophy awarded to the goaltender par excellence, 24, for an average of 5.23 per game.

The Canucks defaulted their third goaltender, Arturs Silovs, in Game 4 following injuries to Thatcher Demko and Casey DeSmith. Silovs, 23, whose career even led him to play for the Trois-Rivières Lions in the ECHL, allowed five goals in three games and concluded the series with a shutout. However, he was facing one of the good goalkeepers in the League, Juuse Saros, of the Predators.

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PHOTO GEORGE WALKER IV, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Arthurs Silovs

Boston has one of the best goaltending duos in the NHL in Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark. Toronto has one of the worst, Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll. It took overtime in Game 7 to determine the winner, the Bruins…

2. Don’t panic Toronto!

Speaking of the Leafs, the end of season results are likely to be stormy. We will want to fire the coach, probably the president Brendan Shanahan and probably the striker Mitch Marner, disappointing with only three points, including a goal, in seven games.

The Maple Leafs are coming off another 102-point season. Their best forward, Auston Matthews, was ill. William Nylander, 98 points in the regular season, missed the first three games of the series.

Still, it took the Bruins an overtime in Game 7 to eliminate Toronto. Is there really danger in the house?

3. Some disappointed buyers, others happy

Vegas gave up two first-round picks, a second-round pick and two prospects for Tomas Hertl, Noah Hanifin and Anthony Mantha. They were obviously proclaimed winners of the trade deadline. Through clever subterfuge, they were able to exceed the salary cap by ten million at the start of the playoffs. They were nevertheless eliminated in the first round by the Dallas Stars, not without leading 2-0. Fortunately, Hertl and Hanifin will be Vegas for several more years.

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PHOTO BRANDON WADE, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Thomas Hertl (48)

Among other unfortunate buyers, Winnipeg gave up a late first-round pick, 27e in total for the moment, at CH for Sean Monahan. He was limited to one assist in five games, but was among his club’s most used attackers.

The Hurricanes gave up a second-round pick and three prospects for Jake Guentzel. He gave them four points in five games in the first round in the first line and allowed them to demote a good offensive player, Martin Necas, to the third. Vancouver paid a first-round pick for another rental player, Elias Lindholm. This one has not broken out offensively, three points in six games, but it is used profusely and allows the Canucks to count on a great third trio.

Obtained for young defenseman Bowen Byram, Casey Mittelstadt fills a nice hole in the center of the Avalanche’s second line. He had six points in five matches in the first round.

4. Logic respected for a rare time

The Seattle Kraken caused a major upset last year by eliminating the defending champions, the Colorado Avalanche, in the first round. The Florida Panthers did the same thing in the East by beating the Boston Bruins after trailing 3-1. However, forty-three points separated them in the standings.

For a rare time, there were no surprises this year. The last seven qualified clubs, Washington, NY Islanders, Vegas, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Nashville and Toronto all suffered elimination in the first round. Only one team in the top nine, fourth-place Winnipeg, fell to the Colorado Avalanche, just three points behind at eighth overall. We can hardly call it a surprise here.

5. Good old Lehkonen again!

Artturi Lehkonen showed his opportunism during the 2021 playoffs with the Canadian by scoring the winning goal in overtime to eliminate the Vegas Golden Knights in the semi-final. He also showed his teeth in the series in Sweden, before his arrival in North America, with 19 points, including 11 goals, in 16 games in Frölunda after a season of 33 points in 49 games.

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PHOTO RON CHENOY, USA TODAY SPORTS

Artturi Lehkonen (620

He has been worth his weight in gold in Colorado since his acquisition from the Canadiens in exchange for young defenseman Justin Barron and a second-round pick in 2024. After being an important contributor to winning the Cup in 2022 with 14 points, including eight goals, he has collected eight points, including five goals, in five games so far on the second line with Mittelstadt and Zach Parise. Here he is at 28 points in 32 playoff games since his arrival in Colorado.

Trevor Connelly’s gaffe

A stupid and totally unnecessary major penalty from American prospect Trevor Connelly, following a dangerous check, in the third period of the U18 World Championship final on Sunday, allowed Canada to overcome a deficit and win gold.

The best prospect of the 2025 draft, the American James Hagens, 17, and that of 2026, the Canadian Gavin McKenna, 16, had a blast with 22 and 20 points respectively. Hagens broke the record for the most points in this tournament. Nikita Kucherov had 21 points there in 2011.

Among the hopes of the 2024 vintage, Lane Hutson’s little brother, Cole, obtained 13 points in seven games, Tij Iginla 12 points in 7 games and Cole Eiserman scored nine goals in seven games.

However, these results should be taken with a grain of salt. This tournament can be misleading, in the absence of the best 17-year-old players on the planet, injured, born late, therefore already aged 18, or even retained in the playoffs.

Nine of the first ten candidates for the 2024 draft, including the favorite, Macklin Celebrini, were not there.

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