Double Bubble: Rask leaves, Vegas dominates and Revenge of the Trotz

Credit: NY Islanders/Twitter

Oh hey, welcome to Double Bubble, a column that I’m starting just to give some of my quick thoughts on the NHL playoffs. And what better time to start then in the middle of the First Round.

So let’s get started on some of the bigger news, then we’ll go into the individual series.

Rask leaves the bubble

Just 90 minutes before the Bruins were supposed to play the Hurricanes in Game 2 of their series, Tuukka Rask decided to opt-out of the rest of the playoffs to spend time with his family.

Let me just start by saying that if you get mad at any athlete for opting out of the playoffs or season or whatever, that’s a bad take.

I’m sure the next arguments will be something like “Oh well he makes X amount of money / he’s entitled / he’s leaving his teammates out to dry” or whatever other 300 IQ “Old School Hockey” takes are being repeated to death on Twitter. You know exactly how I’m talking about.

Rask has a young family, and I can’t imagine what kind of strain that puts on parents, especially when is going to be gone for potentially months.

“I want to be with my teammates competing, but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family,” Rask said in a statement. “I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support and wish them success.”

Rask has always been a player that took a ton of heat from Bruins fans and analysts. This shouldn’t be something that is weaponized against him, even though that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

The Bruins are going to be fine. Jaroslav Halak is the most underrated goalie of the past decade, and his expected goals against is just incredible. If this was Carey Price or Ben Bishop, it’d be different, but Boston is a really good team.

He made his choice, it’s his decision, and hockey fans need to get over this gladiator mentality that views players more as objects than people.

Speaking of galaxy brain takes, we got more than a few this week. I won’t get into the details because honestly I’m just so tired of these terrible analysts and broadcasters being given a microphone despite their constant errors or insane thoughts.

Flyers vs Canadiens

Is Montreal suddenly the best team in the league?

Definitely not, but they are making this series interesting.

A 5-0 win over the Flyers — My dark horse Cup winner — shows that this is a team that’s set on defying expectations.

Jesperi Kotkianiemi is looking as good as he’s ever looked. Tomas Tatar has finally shown up to these playoffs.

The real reason the Habs are in such a good spot though, is of course, Carey Price. He’s a man on a mission and has been just as good as all those pre-playoff takes that were bumping around.

This is Montreal playing to their absolute potential. Chasing Carter Hart from the net in Game 2 was pretty wild to watch.

Philly still eventually wins out the series in my books, but Montreal is going to push it further than I think anyone could have guessed.

Bruins vs Hurricanes

Andrei Svechnikov is likely out for the remainder of the playoffs after falling really weirdly during a battle with Zdeno Chara. As much fun as it would be to place the blame on Chara for once again injuring an opposing team’s top player, that wasn’t the case this time.

Just a really bad accident. Sucks too because I think Svechnikov has been the most exciting players in this postseason. The kid tried the Michigan move in overtime of the playoffs for god’s sake. That’s the type of baller move and confidence you can’t teach.

Hopefully the injury isn’t as bad as the video makes it seem.

Bruins lose Rask (small loss, considering Halak) and the Canes lose Svech (big loss). Canes are going to need to find a way to rally around losing their star player to win this series. Boston takes it if they keep up exactly what they’re doing.

Capitals vs Islanders

Barry Trotz is really about to Old Yeller the Capitals I guess.

Islanders are up 3-0, and the Caps do not look like they can climb back into this one. John Carlson has been on the ice for six goals against and zero for. The Caps look rough. The Islanders look, well, better at least. Mat Barzal is so good it kills me he’s on a team as offensively challenged as New York.

Tampa vs Blue Jackets

I just want it to be known that I’m still tired from that 5OT Game 1.

What the hell guys.

Seth Jones had over AN HOUR OF ICE TIME. That’s just insanity.

Columbus’ style of play is less than exciting, but can’t hate on success. I’m not ready to give John Torterella too much credit because frankly the reason that Columbus is anywhere close to a good team is goaltending, and something tells me that Torts isn’t exactly a goalie whisperer.

Tampa is the stronger team on paper, and that 5OT win kind of showed that they want to exorcise some Blue Jacket demons.

Stars vs Flames

Probably the least exciting series out of the bunch, which is weird because I’ve liked this matchup so far.

The only problem with it is that these are two low-event teams. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan aren’t exactly known for their playoff accumen, but Matthew Tkachuk has been electric for them so far, but he’s injured now. Sam Bennett has also been really good, despite his insistence on taking terrible penalties.

On Dallas, Miro Heiskanen is clearly the best defender on the Stars. He’s not quite on the Quinn Hughes level of excitement, but he’s just as good.

The rivalry between Dallas and Calgary has just exploded, so this will hopefully be a fun series. I’m writing this as I’m watching Game 3, and Tobias Reider just scored his third short-handed goal of these playoffs, so I guess that’s happening too. If he scores another he’ll have the record for most in one postseason.

Also, to the NHL, start playing WAP whenever Jamie Benn is on the ice you cowards.

Blues vs Canucks

Please excuse me while I fanboy over the young Canucks core.

Quinn Hughes is just so freaking good. Elias Pettersson is so freaking good. Brock Boeser is so freaking good. Bo Horvat (less young but still) wearing the ‘C’ has been outstanding.

Aside from Tarasenko and O’Reilly, I don’t think the Blues are anywhere as close to as talented as the Canucks. But when it comes to who will win the series, I’m not sure I’m confident in picking one team definitively. This one could go either way.

Avalanche vs Coyotes

Hi welcome to the Nathan MacKinnon show, today’s entertainment will involve the absolute roasting of the Coyotes despite the best efforts of Darcy Kuemper.

The Avalanche are just too strong. Kuemper stole one for Arizona, but I can’t imagine him being able to steal three more.

MacKinnon is a monster. I don’t even know how he’s legally allowed to compete against mere men.

Golden Knights vs Blackhawks

Back in October, I was talking to some sports journo friends of mine, and the topic of who was the team to beat came up. My pick was Vegas at the time, and I think this kind of decimation of the Blackhawks we’ve seen so far just proves that.

Would Edmonton have fared a better chance? Maybe. But the Oilers also looked pretty brutal agaisnt Chicago, so it’s tough to give them any credit in this “what-if”.

Also there’s just such a great irony to Robin Lehner beating the team that chose Corey Crawford over him.

Other notes

  • Go listen to “Show Pony” by Orville Peck
  • Jack Edwards had probably the worst take of all time with his “No it’s actually a good thing Svechnikov got injured and it was actually his fault.”
  • Has anyone checked on Connor McDavid recently? Just to see if he’s okay? How much longer does he suffer with this Oilers team, or is he just going to take it the way that The Old School Hockey Men think a player should. Get him out!