Maple Leafs forward, Nazem Kadri shields the puck from Bruins forward, David Pastrnak in Game 5 (via @MapleLeafs/Twitter)

NHL playoffs weekly roundup

Maple Leafs look to stay alive tonight as they face elimination against Boston on home ice

Weekly Stanley Cup playoff notebook:

Eastern Conference:

Tampa Bay Lighting (1) vs. New Jersey Devils (WC2)

Series: Lightning win series 4-1.

Tampa Bay’s top players like Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos came out to shine during the series. The two forwards combined for 16 points through five games. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy played well, posting a 2.01 GAA and .941 save percentage. The Devils struggled with their goalie situation, starting backup Keith Kinkaid for Games 1 and 2 which proved costly. Cory Schneider played well in relief but the Devils had trouble finding the back of the net. Devils’ star player Taylor Hall showed well in his first Stanley Cup playoff action, with six points in five games.

Next Game: TBA

Boston Bruins (2) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (3)

Series: Bruins lead 3-2.

Auston Matthews and William Nylander finally found themselves on the board to help the Leafs win two games, but a combined three points between them is not going to be enough. The Bruins’ top line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron is still a handful for the Leafs, as Pastrnak leads the team with 11 points in five games. Defenceman Torey Krug is playing well for the Bruins with a solid eight points. The Leafs need their star players to show in this series if they want to have a chance of advancing.

Next Game: Tonight, 4 p.m. in Toronto.

Washington Capitals (1) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (WC1)

Series: Capitals lead 3-2.

After being down 2-1 in the series, the Capitals have found ways to bounce back. The Caps are winning the special teams battle, as their power play has capitalized on eight of 24 opportunities. Top centres Evgeny Kuznestov and Niklas Backstrom have come alive, combining for 15 points in five games. The Blue Jackets relied heavily on secondary scoring during the regular season and will continue to do so in the playoffs. Switching back to regular starting goaltender Braden Holtby proved to be vital for the Capitals. Holtby has a 1.66 GAA in four games.

Next Game: Tonight, 4:30 p.m. in Columbus.

Pittsburgh Penguins (2) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (3)

Series: Penguins win series 4-2.

The three-headed monster of Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin and Phil Kessel is once again is showing no signs of slowing down. Crosby is leading the NHL playoffs in points with 13 in six games. Sophomore forward Jake Guentzel is providing the Penguins with secondary scoring, when he scored four goals and one assist in Game 6 to help the Penguins win the series. Guentzel is also tied with Crosby with 13 points. The Flyers had goalie troubles, resorting to three goalies in the series, with Brian Elliott losing the starting job.

Western Conference:

Nashville Predators (1) vs. Colorado Avalanche (WC2)

Series: Predators win series 4-2.

It was a tighter series than most would have anticipated. The depth of the Predators proved to be the factor in the series. Their third line consisting of Colton Sissons, Austin Waston and Nick Bonino combined for a total of 19 points in six games. Preds winger Filip Forsberg put on a highlight reel during the series with four goals of his own. Hart trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon was not able to single-handedly push the Avs through. Maybe with a healthy goalie Sergei Varlamov things could have been different.

Next Game: Against Winnipeg, TBA

Winnipeg Jets (2) vs. Minnesota Wild (3)

Series: Jets win series 4-1.

The Jets proved to be too much for the Wild in this series. With the Winnipeg whiteout, the Jets are deadly at home. Their size and depth made it difficult for the Wild to score goals, while the Jets had points from every player in the series but three. Secondary scoring was not an issue and 24-year-old goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was phenomenal, posting a 1.94 GAA and .924 save percentage along with two shutouts.

Next Game: Against Nashville, TBA

Vegas Golden Knights (1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (WC1)

Series: Golden Knights won series 4-0.

Vegas just became the third North American pro sports franchise to sweep an opponent in their first-ever playoff series. The play of Marc-Andre Fleury has been flat-out remarkable. Fleury had two shutouts and is posting a 0.65 GAA and a .977 save percentage across four games in the playoffs. Los Angeles were only able to score three goals in the series opposed to Vegas’ seven. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick played remarkably well, especially in Game 2 when he made 54 saves as the game went into double overtime. However, when your team only scores three goals in a series, it is nearly impossible to win.

Next Game: against San Jose, TBA

Anaheim Ducks (2) vs. San Jose Sharks (3)

Series: Sharks won series 4-0.

The Sharks played some excellent hockey over the four games but it was also a lacklustre of effort from the Ducks. Star winger Corey Perry did not record a single point and was minus-5 in the series. The Ducks were also without defenceman Cam Fowler which really hurt their back end. San Jose capitalized on six of 20 power play opportunities as well they provided plenty of secondary scoring, something they have lacked in past playoff performances. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones was a brick wall in the series, posting one shutout along with a 1.00 GAA and .970 save percentage.

Next Game: against Vegas, TBA

B.C.-born player update:

North Vancouver native Martin Jones continues to have a stellar postseason. The Sharks swept the Anaheim Ducks in four games with Jones backstopping them for every win. Jones currently holds a 1.00 GAA and .970 save percentage along with one shutout.

Vancouver’s own Evander Kane had a great start to his first career Stanley Cup playoffs, counting for three goals and one assist across four games for the San Jose Sharks.

Colton Sissons of North Vancouver led the way for the Nashville Predators with three goals and four assists in six games. His third line was dominant in the series and helped push his team through into the second round.

Toronto’s star defenceman, and a native of West Vancouver, Morgan Reilly is playing well on the back end against the Bruins with five points in five games.

Way-too-early Conn Smythe Trophy watch:

Marc-Andre Fleury: In four games, the Canadian netminder posted a 0.65 GAA and a .977 save percentage and four wins. Among those four wins were two shutouts. Fleury is playing lights-out hockey right now and he knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup. Can he carry an expansion team in its first season to its’ first title?

Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel: After Sunday’s performance of five goals and three assists together, it is safe to say that these two are front-runners for the Conn Smythe. They are equal in goals (6), assists (7) and points (13) through six playoff games. They have a combined plus-17 in the series as well. It is tough to rule out a red=hot Penguins team heading into the second round.

Nikita Kucherov: After scoring 100 points in the regular season, good for third in the NHL, Kucherov catapulted the Lightning past the Devils in round one. He has five goals and five assists after the first round.

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