By Mike Benton – Silvertips play-by-play
Heading into the month of September – now just one day away – hockey is at full attention. We’re used to it.
Except, this year is one like none other.
So instead of feverishly shifting the mindset from shorts to pants, lemonade to a hot latte, and a clean slate to a hockey season, we’re just getting the previous one finished. I personally remember growing up, going to school after the start of Labor Day – and like Pavlov’s dog – alerted in my mind, “hockey season’s almost here!”
Not this year. It’s truly a year unlike I’ve ever seen.
Heading into September, we’re down to the final eight, and close to seeing it narrow to the final four. The WHL is on pause – presumably until December 4. And simply, we’re just waiting for the rest.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK:
- By now, you’ve read, seen, and heard about the historical pause and implications in sports this week when it comes to the attention to black lives, social justice, and human rights. The Stanley Cup Playoffs, as well other major league sports leagues, stepped away for two days out for respect, reflection, and action. WHL players have also started with action, drawing a connection with the NHL, TSN, and big league players such as Anthony Duclair.
Originally published two months ago – if you haven’t seen this, here is this Hockey News piece on Rico Phillips, a terrific read on a man tasked to drive an inclusive outreach approach within the Ontario Hockey League.
TIPS IN THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS:
- CARTER HART (G – PHILADELPHIA FLYERS): Had the night off, Sunday, in the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 loss in Game 4 to the New York Islanders. They trail the series, 3-1. One more loss, and their season is finished. Despite the big challenge ahead in the second round, Hart has continued to serve as a reason why the Flyers got this deep in the first place.
Game 4 in Toronto was just the second of the postseason that Hart served as bench doorman – including the Qualifiers. The Flyers have scored just 1.8 goals per game in the playoffs. Claude Giroux hasn’t scored a goal at all since entering the bubble. They’re at a minus-25 shot differential in the playoffs (the only team worse off, and still alive, is the Vancouver Canucks).
Hart in the postseason: 7-4, .931 save percentage, 2.08 goals-against-average.
Game 5 is tomorrow at 4pm PT (NBCSN, SN). We don’t know yet if it’ll be Hart or Brian Elliott.
ELSEWHERE, IN CASE YOU’RE KEEPING SCORE:
- Dallas Stars (3-1) over the Colorado Avalanche: game 5 is tonight at 6:45pm PT (NBCSN, SN). With one more win, the Stars will reach their first appearance in the Conference Final since 2008.
- Vegas Golden Knights (3-1) over the Vancouver Canucks: VGK put the Canucks on the brink of elimination with a 5-3 win last night in Edmonton. Game 5 is tomorrow at 6:45pm (NBCSN, SN).
- Tampa Bay (3-1) over the Boston Bruins: game 5 is tonight at 4:00pm (NBCSN, SN). The Lightning, whose assistant general manager Stacy Roest has a son, Austin, now signed by the Silvertip, can advance to the Conference Final for the fourth time in six years with one more win. Did you know: they’re 6-0 in series play when leading 3-1.
SILVERTIPS IN THE OFFSEASON:
- Jacob Wright will enter his second season as a pool of young talent preparing to take the torch, missing only 14 games as a rookie after he sniped 24 goals in 34 games with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds two years ago. He’s hard at work to embrace the same results – but now at the WHL level.
- Dustin Wolf has been trekking back and forth between Washington and California, currently setting up shop in Stockton, Calif. where the Calgary Flames have planted their AHL affiliate, the Heat. In between workouts, he’s filled the downtime with golf – where after just picking up the game two years ago, he can already post scores in the 80’s.He’s looking fresh, too (with fire engine red Flames accented pads)