• By: Dave Gross

Oilers, Leafs, Jets and Canucks takin’ care of business

The most fabulous time of the year hasn’t disappointed, and we are what, only three-days-and-change in?


Lots to chew on from a Canadian team perspective as the NHL post-season rages onward.

It is – after all – the most fabulous time of the year . . .



Since TSN’s SportsCentre opened its Monday night broadcast with a mere 17 straight minutes (I counted) of Maple Leaf coverage, thought it appropriate to lead the column off with a Toronto note.

Wouldn’t want to buck a good trend. (My dad hung out with Teeder Kennedy, so there).

Toronto’s comeback triumph in Boston knotted that opener 1-1. What stood out?

• Despite the penalties, Max Domi is a priority in the off-season. He’s proven to be as good with Auston Matthews as that ‘other guy.’ In fact, if the Buds fail to move on (again) and they want to move on, trading Mitch Marner is a must-do as far as shakeups.

• Marner is not built for the playoffs, Domi is. Marner grumbles a lot about playing in Toronto under the microscope, Domi thrives. Marner’s cap hit is close to $11 million US and carries an NMC. He’d move under the right circumstances and the return would be hefty. Domi would be much, much cheaper.

• Domi is inside Brad Marchand’s head. Priceless.

• Matthews likely played his best playoff game Monday night. Dominant.

• On Boston’s end, did it not look like the B’s had forgotten how to play the game of hockey in an effective manner in the last three minutes? “Oops” and “whoopsie” were heard consistently at ice level.

• Charlie McAvoy really is that good.

• With McAvoy (26), David Pastrnak (27), Pavel Zacha (27), Morgan Geekie (25), Trent Frederic (26), Brandon Carlo (27) and Jeremy Swayman (25) on board, you cannot call the Bruins and ‘old’ team.

• Swayman – Game 3 starter. Mark it down.

• Cliché No. 1: Game 3 is pivotal.



Edmonton’s start against the Los Angeles Kings was stunning, particularly to the Kings.

• Former Ottawa Senator legend Cam Talbot was victimized for six by the high flying, free flowing Oilers (one into an empty net), and yet it absolutely could have been messier. BTW, that’s messier not Messier. He used to play in Edmonton and now sells potato chips.

• Is there an answer for the Kings in goal against this determined attack?

• Edmonton’s high energy surge in the opener (outside of a few blips) can’t be maintained in a long series. Adhering to an all-around game can.

• Drew Doughty cares.

• Doughty on allowing seven: “That’s not our model.” That’s be Rick Martel, right?

• Who doesn’t like Zach Hyman, and if you don’t, what’s wrong with you?

• Stuart Skinner was particularly good. Can’t blame him for pucks going in off his own defencemen’s skates.

• Game 2 is pivotal. Cliché No. 2.


Vancouver and Winnipeg opened with wins which wasn’t at all surprising.

A tad different in the delivery of said wins though.

• The Joshua Tree by U2 was a pretty decent album. Dakota was better though on night No. 1. The man was a beast.

• Speaking on beasts – J.T. Miller. Those with early bedtimes in the East have been missing out big time on this competitor’s compete level.

• Miller is kind of Nathan MacKinnon-lite, although that’s rapidly turning into a disservice to Miller.

• Two top-of-the-list Jack Adams candidates squaring off here in Rick Tocchet and Andrew Brunette, so let’s make this all about me: In the late 1980s, Rick was a frequent guest on my Scarboro TV sports talk show; in the early 1990s, Brunette was bagging countless goals for the Owen Sound Platers, and as reporter for CKCO-TV up in the Scenic City, I saw plenty of Bruno.

• As Roman Reigns would say: “Acknowledge me.”

• The two statues on Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge are wearing Canucks’ sweaters. Ah, fandom.

• If there is a weak link in the Canucks’ game, it’s hard to find.

• Now, the Jets.

• Thought the HNIC announcers called it right when – with around 14 minutes left and Winnipeg up by three goals – they indicated there was a real sense of nervousness in the home building.

• Connor Hellebuyck let in six goals and yet was quite good.

• Hockey’s top stopper on allowing goals: “There’s not much I can do and if you’re going to beat me, it’s going to be a fluke and that’s the way I like it. And a lot of times if I need to get past it, that’s something I’ll tell myself. ‘Oh, that one’s a fluke. That’s not happening again.’ So, there are little tricks you learn along the way that help you tick and keep your mind right.”

• Hockey warrior: Adam Lowry.

• The Avalanche face a similar conundrum as the Leafs. If the goaltending flakes out, they’re done like dinner. Alexandar Georgiev looked overly cooked Sunday night.

• Cliché No. 3 which is a lot like cliché No. 2: Game 3 is pivotal.


THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: When predictions do not come true: Florida/Tampa was a practical love-in during Game 1 . . . Maybe they met at centre ice prior to the opening whistle and said, “You’re tough, we’re tough, let’s just play hockey” . . . Maybe the second game will feature an all-out brawl . . . Here’s hoping . . . Not that I watched the entire affair, but did anyone have a Brady Tkachuk sighting Sunday afternoon in Sunrise, Fla.? . . . Brandon Hagel plays hockey good . . . Did Vegas hire the same legal team as Tampa? Mark Stone and Alex Pietrangelo meet Nikita Kucherov . . . Cap-shmap-flap . . . Vegas’ salary hit for its opener would be $750,000 US over the cap . . . Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on the situation: “If everyone in the league, including the players, the teams and the league, wants to change this, they’ll do it in two years. We’re going to find out in the next 24 months how people really feel about this” . . . I’m finding it difficult to root against Carolina because they’re coached by Rod Brind ’Amour. Class act . . . Strong response from Carolina to the Islander attempt at intimidation late in the third period. Laughter is the best medicine . . . The legend of Matt Rempe hauls onward. First playoff game, first playoff goal . . . Lindy Ruff’s back with Buffalo. Not entirely sure what to make of this one but isn’t this kind of a reach . . . Tie Domi (Max’s pop) had this great quote about the Sabres coach back in his playing days: “Ruff at home, Lindy on the road.”


PHOTOS: Courtesy TSN.com