It’s the most, wonderful time, of the yearrrrrrrr! Who doesn’t love playoff hockey right? This is what we wait all season for, this is why most of us became fans of the game, as the postseason captivates us year after year after year. My personal favorite part is the dying minutes of a one-goal game when everything is a scramble, bodies are diving everywhere, pucks are zipping around the zone and the intensity is as high as can be. Until we get to overtime that is, when it become full-on, tighten your butt cheeks, gasp and cringe with every shot end-to-end action (WITH NO COMMERCIALS!!).
Who will hoist the 2016 Stanley Cup?
With the team I cover out of the playoffs (again), I relish the opportunity to write a little out of character and enjoy the playoffs as a fan of the game, and pick my three stars of each night like our friends over at Yahoo!/Puck Daddy blog do throughout the season. You can find player standings at the bottom of each post with three points for being the no. 1 star, two for no. 2 and one for no. 3 and on some nights we’ll have an honorable mention.
May 5, 2016
#3) James Neal, Nashville: goal, assist
Neal was realer than Real Deal Holyfield when he scored the tying goal late in the third period, sending the Nashville crowd into a frenzy and the pivotal Game 4 into three overtimes with an epic Preds ending. Earlier on the sequence he fanned on a shot attempt and threw his head back in disgust (as seen in video below), but not more than six seconds later the puck was back in his wheelhouse and just as quickly in the back of the Sharks net. His eight shots on goal tied Brent Burns for a game-high, and his 38:59 was the most for any forward in the game.
James Neal ties it at 3 for the #Predators with just over 4 minutes left in G4 vs San Jose. Neal now has 8 goals over his last 14 playoff GP
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) May 6, 2016
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) May 6, 2016
#2) Patrick Sharp, Dallas: goal, assist
The three-time Stanley Cup champion (with Chicago) had a team-high seven shots on goal in a must-win road game for Dallas and had the primary assist on the GWG to go along with his goal that gave the Stars a lead in the second period of a game that they looked like they were going to get blown out of at times. That pass to Cody Eakin though…he had time to settle it and made a crisp, textbook, tape-to-tape pass that Eakin fired into the top corner of the Blues net. With the win this is now a best-of-three and hopefully goes to a Game 7.
Patrick Sharp puts #Stars up 2-1 in Gm4 vs STL with his 47th career playoff goal- 6th most among active players (1 more than Sidney Crosby)
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) May 6, 2016
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) May 6, 2016
#1) Mike Fisher, Nashville: 2 goals/triple OT winner
After almost two full games, Fisher ended the longest game this postseason minutes after the Preds killed off a penalty on their captain Shea Weber. Mr. Underwood gobbled up a rebound and sent the Nashville faithful hope hella happy in the longest game in franchise history. His first goal gave Nashville a 2-1 lead in the first period, which preceded his second by a whole lot of hours, and he also chipped in five shots on goal, five hits, and four blocked shots. Most importantly, like the other West semifinal, we are all now guaranteed a Game 6 which means more playoff hockey on tap for all of us. Fisher now has at least a point in every game of this series (3g-2a).
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 6, 2016
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) May 6, 2016
Joe Pavelski (SJ): 7
Braden Holtby (Wash): 6
Brian Elliott (StL): 6
Michal Neuvirth (Phil): 5
John Tavares (NYI): 5
Pekka Rinne (Nash): 5
Tyler Johnson (TB): 5
Matt Murray (Pitt): 5
Patric Hornqvist (Pitt): 5
Nikita Kucherov (TB): 4
Alex Ovechkin (Wash): 4
Thomas Hickey (NYI): 3
Antti Niemi (Dall): 3
Evgeni Malkin (Pitt): 3
Artemi Panarin (Chi): 3
Troy Brouwer (StL): 3
TJ Oshie (Wash): 3
Radek Faksa (Dall): 3
Kris Letang (Pitt): 3
David Backes (StL): 3
Victor Hedman (TB): 3
Mike Fisher (Nash): 3
Roberto Luongo (Fla): 2
Tanner Pearson (LA): 2
Frederik Andersen (Ana): 2
Ben Bishop (TB): 2
Mikko Koivu (Minn): 2
Sami Vatanen (Ana): 2
Shane Prince (NYI): 2
Nick Bonino (Pitt): 2
Joel Ward (SJ): 2
Carl Hagelin (Pitt): 2
Shea Weber (Nash): 2
Trevor Daley (Pitt): 2
Patrick Sharp (Dall): 2
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.