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SportEarly winners, losers from NHL playoffs: Just look to the bizarre, unexpected and odd happenings

22:06  21 april  2019
22:06  21 april  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

NHL playoff matchups set

NHL playoff matchups set Get your popcorn ready, because it's officially playoff time. While some NHL postseason matchups have been known for a while, many were decided on the final night of the regular season. Here's a look at all eight: Eastern Conference © Provided by Score Media Ventures INC Claus Andersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty Atlantic Division Drawing the Presidents' Trophy winners in Round 1 was probably not what Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen envisioned when he went all-in prior to the trade deadline. The Lightning emphatically swept the season series 3-0, outscoring Columbus 17-3.

Early winners, losers from NHL playoffs: Just look to the bizarre, unexpected and odd happenings© Provided by USA Today Sports Media Group LLC Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) fights Hurricanes right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37) during the first period in Game 3 of their first-round series. The 2019 NHL playoffs are playing out like tales of the unexpected. Upsets. Strange happenings. Odd results. The first round has been as predictable as a tropical storm.

Here are some of the unusual occurrences:

Lightning fizzled: The Tampa Bay Lightning, an NHL record-tying 62-win team, became the first Presidents' Trophy winner to be swept in the first round. The Columbus Blue Jackets, the last wild-card qualifier in the Eastern Conference, didn’t just win – they overwhelmed the Lightning.

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Bizarre fight: Carolina Hurricanes rookie Andrei Svechnikov grew up idolizing his fellow Russian countryman Alex Ovechkin. But the hero worship probably is gone now after Ovechkin KO’d Svechnikov in a fight during Game 3 of their playoff series. They were unlikely combatants, but the bout seemed even weirder when both players said it was the other guy’s idea to fight. Svechnikov sat out Games 4 and 5 with what is believed to be a concussion, but hopes to be back for Monday’s Game 6.

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Predator names his sticks: Nashville role player Rocco Grimaldi randomly names each of his sticks and April 14 he scored his first NHL goal with a stick named "Frankie." That happened to be his late grandfather's name. Grimaldi's father reminded him after the game that the goal came on the third anniversary of his grandfather's death.

A 37-year-old goalie tops list of NHL playoffs' early winners and losers as quest for Stanley Cup hits full gear

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Grimaldi started naming his sticks in the minors. He gets some of his names by visiting nameberry.com, the website expectant parents use for naming babies.

No one can knock Grimaldi's routine: he's currently leading the Predators in playoff scoring with three goals in four games.

Face goal:San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski lost two teeth and needed stitches after teammate Brent Burns’ shot hit him in the face and caromed into the net for a goal in a 5-2 win against the Vegas Golden Knights. Pavelski returned to the game after getting some repairs. “Tough as nails,” said coach Peter DeBoer.

Blues are a favorite: On Jan. 3, the Blues were last place in the NHL and now they among the favorites to win it all. Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington has been the key. Including the regular season and playoffs, he’s 28-7-1.

Early exits: Nikita Kucherov, Sidney Crosby, Johnny Gaudreau and Steven Stamkos were all top 10 scorers in the regular season. Kucherov even won the scoring title.

Opinion: Fighting in the NHL is brutish and outdated, and needs to be banned

Opinion: Fighting in the NHL is brutish and outdated, and needs to be banned Carolina Hurricanes will be left shorthanded in Game 4 of playoffs after rookie Andrei Svechnikov suffers concussion in fight with Alex Ovechkin.

But all of them have already been knocked out of the playoffs. They combined for one goal and cumulative plus-minus of -18 in this first round.

Crazy week for Stevie Y: Steve Yzerman was the architect of the 62-win Lightning team, but he won't be involved in the fallout associated with its playoff implosion. Instead, he accepted the job as Detroit Red Wings general manager. When he stepped down as Tampa Bay's GM last summer, it was assumed he would someday be Detroit's GM. How many respected executives leave one of the NHL's top organizations to take charge of a rebuilding franchise that has missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons?

Home ice disadvantage: In the Winnipeg vs. St. Louis series, the road team won the first five games and then the Blues clinched by winning Game 6 at home.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Early winners, losers from NHL playoffs: Just look to the bizarre, unexpected and odd happenings

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