The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs are underway and since the drop of the puck last Monday in Game 1 of Round 1, one thing is clear, the road is where the heart is. Everyone talks about home cooking, but it is the road teams that are dominating thus far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There is always a lot of drama in the playoffs, just look at Saturday, April 22nd, with three overtime games that changed the course of a series. However, as we have seen over the last several years, good teams in both the East and West will be going home in the first round. While players want the old format of 1-8, the divisional format is showing us rivalries between certain teams have never gone away.
The first week of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has not disappointed. So many close games. But there is so much parody in the league, we expected this once the playoffs started. Ice is hard to come by as physical play is taking over. Teams have to adjust, but it appears the road teams are adjusting more than the home teams.
Time to dive into the Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook.
Stanley Cup Playoffs Notebook
It’s All About Road Teams
Home Ice Not An Advantage
One thing we have seen over the years home ice in the Stanley Cup Playoffs does not mean a thing. If you have been watching the playoffs, you may have noticed that road teams are handling their business as the home teams struggle to keep up.
Take for example the Hudson River Rivalry between the Devils and Rangers. The road team has won every game in that series. The Rangers took Games 1 and 2 at Prudential Center, while the Devils were able to go into Madison Square Garden and get their first victory of the series. But it is just not that series that stands out.
In all the series, the road teams are winning. Dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ all four road teams won their games. Three of those games went to overtime and the road teams won those three games. That trend continued into Sunday’s slate of games as well. The road teams went 4-0 and had a perfect weekend going 8-0. Something about being on the road allows teams to feel more comfortable.
But it was not the first time it happened either. The second night of the playoffs saw all four road teams win as well. Now that is not to say things can’t swing the other way. But teams feel comfortable on the road especially teams like the Devils, Kraken, Bruins, Jets, and Avalanche.
These teams were some of the best road teams in the league in the regular season. Not surprised that has translated over to the playoffs.
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Power Plays Matter
One of the big keys to any series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is executing the power play. Especially when the opposition takes a bad penalty. When a team takes a bad penalty it usually ends up costing them. Already through the first week of the playoffs, teams that have taken stupid and ill-timed penalties have paid the price for it.
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Take the Devils-Rangers series, the Devils took too many offensive zone penalties in the first two games and that is why they are trailing in their series with the Rangers. New Jersey finally got a powerplay goal in the series thanks to Jack Hughes after taking advantage of a bad penalty by the Rangers.
The power play is a vital piece of the game. The Hurricanes have used the powerplay to their advantage. Pun intended. But Carolina has executed their powerplay to perfection. In Game 4, on Long Island, Ryan Pulock took a bad penalty with the Islanders already down a man leading to the Hurricanes scoring the opening goal. From there Carolina never looked back. The Hurricanes did the same thing in Game 1 against the Islanders as well.
Then there is the Edmonton Oilers. Their penalty kill has cost them in their series against the Los Angeles Kings. Two bad penalties in Games 1 and 3 have led to the Kings winning both of those games in overtime. But even during regulation of those games and even in Game 2, the Oilers penalty kill has not been good. The Oilers will need to adjust as the Devils against the Rangers.
In Game 4 of the series, it was the Oilers powerplay that took went to work. Down 3-0 entering the second period, the Oilers went to work. Two bad penalties led to two Oilers goals to allow them to tie the game. Edmonton had the best powerplay in the game. So the Kings will need to do a better job of not taking bad penalties.
- No Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci for the Bruins. Taylor Hall has seven points (four goals, three assists) through four games. Trade deadline acquisition Tyler Bertuzzi has six points (two goals, four assists).
- Seattle is giving Colorado all they can handle and more.
- Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Auston Matthews have shown up for the Maple Leafs. The trio has combined for 17 points. Add John Tavares and the core four has 21 points through three games combined.
- Jack Eichel made the most of his first playoff appearance with three goals.
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