"The Stack" 4-12-18

The scene in Las Vegas last night for the Golden Knights' first playoff game was electric. The crowd got a good game too. Vegas beat the Los Angeles Kings 1-0.

The Stack is back on this Thursday and hopefully everyone enjoyed the NHL Playoff preview yesterday. The puck has dropped on the playoffs and we’ll have reaction to that plus some thoughts on the end to the NBA regular season too. We will do the hypothetical Nathan Stacken/Adam Silver playoff plan at some point as well. Oh, the NFL preseason schedule came out yesterday. Woo (he said with sarcasm). I am really looking forward to the regular season schedule coming out next week however. Can’t wait for that. Now though, let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Thursday, April 12th:

First night of the NHL Playoffs

So the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins sent a message not only to the Philadelphia Flyers, but to the rest of the league Wednesday night and that is that they will not be taken lightly and they are indeed a real threat to win their third consecutive Stanley Cup. The Penguins absolutely embarrassed the Flyers to the tune of 7-0. They jumped out early with three goals in the first period and never looked back. Sidney Crosby had a hat trick. Jake Guentzel was fantastic. The passing was crisp. Philadelphia didn’t even look like they belonged. This series could be over in a hurry.

In Winnipeg, it was a tough battle between the Jets and the Minnesota Wild. The Jets played great in periods one and three while the Wild played much better in period two. It was scoreless after the first period thanks in large part to Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk. It was nearly scoreless after two until the Jets scored on a power play with two-and-a-half minutes to go in the period. The Wild played much better in the second, but still found themselves down 1-0. They would tie the game and take the lead in the first four plus minutes of the third. Matt Cullen scored to tie the game and then Mikko Koivu’s nifty pass set up a two-on-one with Mikael Granlund and Zach Parise. Granlund got the puck to Parise just in time for Parise to put the puck in the net and give the Wild a 2-1 lead, but that was short lived as the Jets would tie and eventually score the go-ahead goal on a redirection. It looked like the Wild might steal game one. Instead the Jets went on to win 3-2.

What a scene in Las Vegas last night. The fans were pumped and enjoyed a lot of festivities outside before the game. Once the game started, Vegas was all business. They took an early 1-0 lead on the Los Angeles Kings off of a re-direction and carried that the rest of the game. Marc Andre-Fleury played terrific stopping all 30 shots he faced. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was tremendous as well stopping 27 shots, but he needed to stop that shot in the first period. The Golden Knights won 1-0. What a scene and what a game. This is a Vegas team that was able to win a type of game that the Kings wanted to play it felt like. The win is Vegas’ first playoff win in their first playoff game in franchise history.

Thoughts on the final day of the NBA season

What an atmosphere at Target Center last night where the Minnesota Timberwolves ended the longest current playoff drought in the NBA with an exciting 112-106 overtime win over the Denver Nuggets. The win means the Timberwolves now get the one seed, the Houston Rockets. This was a very physical game and from what I caught of the fourth quarter and overtime, the officials really let them play which I was a little surprised by. Still, congrats to the Wolves on making it back to the playoffs.

Russell Westbrook is at it again. I am not going to criticize him as others out there are by saying he is padding his stats. I don’t think that is fair or right. Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for the second consecutive season thanks to his 20 rebound night against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Oklahoma City Thunder won 137-123. Congrats to Westbrook on the achievement. He is a really special player.

Washington and Milwaukee aren’t going into the playoffs with a lot of momentum. The Wizards continued their underwhelming ways with a 101-92 loss to Orlando while the Bucks got thumped by the red hot Philadelphia 76ers 130-95. The 76ers have now won 16 straight games. Remarkable!

Finally, the Portland Trailblazers were able to fend off the Utah Jazz to win the Northwest Division and get the number three seed in the western conference playoffs. The Jazz will be the four seed. Both of these teams have been pleasant surprises this year, especially Utah with potential rookie of the year Donovan Mitchell. The NBA Playoffs should be a lot of fun.

Coming up later today or sometime tomorrow or Saturday in the blog: How the NBA Playoffs would look if we seeded the teams 1-16 regardless of conference

Coming up Friday: NBA playoff preview