Momentum can change on a dime in the postseason but as of right now, the below three teams have looked very choppy so far. It’s good that they’re still around but they aren’t playing with momentum.
The Canadiens did move into the second round and for the most part, they weren’t really challenged, but one has to be concerned about their offense. At the defensive end, it’s great that Carey Price is playing outstanding hockey. He finished the first round giving up just 12 goals in six games, and posted a .939 save percentage.
However, the challenge for the Habs is that their offense just isn’t cutting the mustard right now. They scored a total of five goals in the final four games of the series and while that may fly against Ottawa, it won’t work against teams like the New York Rangers or other opponents they might encounter. Defenseman P.K. Subban leads the team with four playoff points and Tomas Plekanec, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn are tied with three points. Beyond that, nobody else on the team has more than two points. That sucks and it has to change or Montreal will be out soon.
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The Blackhawks did survive the Nashville Predators in the first round but there has to be some concern. For starters, they’ve already had to pull both goaltenders. They yanked Corey Crawford in Game 2 and went with Scott Darling until Game 6. However, he got pulled in Game 6 and Crawford was back sealing the deal. Two so-so goaltenders means that the Blackhawks really don’t have one good one. They allowed a whopping 3.5 goals per game in the first round and while they were able to outscore Nashville, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to go far giving up that many goals per game.
They also need to start looking dominant if they want to be worthy of our NHL picks. Yes, they won the series but in Games 1 and 4, they were trailing and needed to dig out of a hole and steal the game in overtime. Even in Game 6, they were down 2-0 very early. It’s great that they’re capable of coming back but it’s also a bad sign that they are falling behind.
Even though they are in Round 2, they still look a bit disjointed rather than a crisp team with momentum.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning survived Game 6 to force a deciding Game 7 back at home, but this is a team that looks like a shadow of their regular season selves. Remember, this is the team that led the NHL in goals per game yet they had averaged just 1.8 goals per game through the first five contests in this series. Steve Stampos, who had 43 goals in the regular season, still hasn’t scored a goal in the series and the power play enters Game 7 going 2-for-26. On top of that, goaltender Ben Bishop hadn’t looked too sharp, posting a meager .901 save percentage. Sure, things can change if the Lightning can impress in Game 7 but otherwise, this is a team that looks like they’ve lost their rhythm.