GOAL BROTHERS’ REPORT: EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS

By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter

For those who do not know what Goal Brothers mean, it’s the Black hockey stars in the National Hockey League. The MIG McClean, Ingram, Gray Line hits the ice again to enlighten the masses on the 2022 NHL playoffs. This year it was a scoring feast all over the league with many teams scoring 300 goals. The Florida Panthers won 58 games while the Colorado Avalanche won 56 a record for the Rocky Mountain team

Now with Covid 19 in the United States and Canada things are just not the same this can also be stated for the National Hockey League. The League had a two-week Covid 19 stop and a two week Winter Olympic Game stop in February. The NHL playoffs are now a month behind their regular playoff routine, throwing everybody off balance.

The Eastern Conference had eight teams that are close in talent skills this year and the points total show this while in the Western Conference only two teams shined bright before the playoffs. Very disappointed in the Vegas Golden Knight crash and burn season as the league welcomed the new expansion Seattle Kraken. The Kraken ended the season with a season ending victory over the San Jose Sharks in Seattle and make up game with Winnipeg Sunday afternoon. This also created the new northwest rivalries between the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, and Calgary Flames.

Last year’s playoffs saw the league realigned into four divisions because of a need for a Canada-only division due to COVID-19 quarantine issues. The playoffs featured the top four teams in each division facing off in intra-division play for the first two rounds of the playoffs.

That structure has been carried over this year, but with the addition of two wild card teams in each conference. The top three teams in each division make the playoffs and then the next two teams across the conference with the best records are the wild cards. The best division winner in the conference faces the No. 2 wild card team and the second best division winner faces the No. 1 wild card team. The No. 2 and No. 3 seed in each division face off in the first round.

After the first-round things will get back to normal matchups within each divisions. Just like the National Basketball Association the best teams are just looking too strong and solid this year. Colorado and Calgary in the West. The Panthers and Lightning in the East with Minnesota and Edmonton trying to break that hold out west and Toronto and Carolina in the east. My Sleeper teams in the west will be the Minnesota Wild with their great goaltending. In the East it’s the Carolina Hurricanes again the person in net will be the key to victory.

In the East all eight teams earned 100 points this year with the Panthers 122 points. It was a Florida house party with the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning most of this season. The Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs tried to keep pace to break up that good Southern hospitality. The New York Rangers also maybe trying to bring the Cup back to the Big Apple since the Mark Messier years. It will be over 60 years for the team in blue that wear the Canadian leaf. This could be the year but they have to get by the Florida powerhouse

This is going to be the most exciting playoffs of the year because of the equal matchups and the scoring power of each team. It will just be a month late this year.

FLORIDA PANTHERS

ANTHONY DUCLAIR

The Ottawa Senators unloaded winger Goal Brother Anthony Duclair to the Florida Panthers and he could not be more pleased with five game winning goals and 58 total points with 31 goals. Glad to be playing for a contender not pretender like Senators. He is also much warmer now. The Panthers are for real this year, The Comeback Cats had the best in their short history. They lead the league in scoring and winger Jonathan Huberdeau is their leading scorer with 30 goals they also have a strong power play unit. They have Sergei Bobrovsky who has league leading 39 victories in net.

CAROLINA HURRICAINS

SABASTIAN AHO

In Carolina the Cains win the Metro Division and have most victories in Carolina history. They will start the playoffs in the right direction winning the last six games of the season. The last game of the season the beat their uniform twin New Jersey Devils 4-2. My Favorite Goalie Frederik Andersen (aka Mr. Anderson, the Matrix Man) maybe out for some time with upper body injury they needed every one of those 35 victories and 4 shutouts to win division. The Cains have the best penalty kill unit in the league and that helps their netminders. Carolina wins the Jennings Trophy Center allowing fewest goals in 82 games with fellow goalie Antti Raanta. Center Sabastian Aho has really taken charge of this team 37 goals and 44 assist. Defensmen Jaccob Slavin and Ian Cole will protect Raanta until Anderson returns.

NEW YORK RANGERS

K’ANDRE MILLER

The Rangers are beginning to look like the old 1970-1980 New York teams with a strong defensive unit with a strong power play unit. The Blueshirt are calling on the Hartfort Wolfpack for practices because they are short players at the moment. Goalie Igor Shesterkin will wear the gear for now as he tries for the Vezina Trophy. Blueshirts still miss the veteran Swedish King, Henrik Lundqvist. 

Last year in June head coach Gerard Gallant change the identity of the team letting Chris Kreider lead the team and have an MVP season. Watch Adam Fox on scoring drives for New York.

Goal Brother Ryan Reaves moved west-Vegas Golden Knights to east and Madison Square Garden but the question remains will he get enough playing time with the Blueshirts. Reaves has become the enforcer and protector to Ryan Strome, Chris Kreider and Kaapa Kakko. Goal Brother K’Andre Miller had fortified the defense in his second year and has surprised many with two game winning goals this year. Center Mika Zibanejad carries the offense for the Rangers with 29 goals and 52 assists he is always around the net.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Pierre Oliver Joseph

Not impressed with this team because they are not playing up to their potential The Pittsburgh Penguins will not be in the playoffs long if they continue to commit stupid penalties at critical times they are in 2nd place in PM’s. the Pens also lead the league in penalty kills and power plays. This combination tires out the veteran players and will cost them in the playoffs. Goalie Tristan Jarry has taken the number one spot in net but is questionable at the start of the playoff season. Winger Jason Zucker may miss the first series. Bryan Rust, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jeff Carter are getting older and slower the torch is being passed to the young guns. Pittsburgh is a team in transition and early exit this year.  They are retooling with young gun Goal Brother Pierre Olivier Joseph from the Arizona Coyotes.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Injuries and just playing too many games has taken its toll in Northern Florida. They are still trying to achieve something that has not been done in many years win the Cup three years in a row. Not since the 1980 Edmonton Oilers and 1970 New York Islanders. The Bolts have found a solid goaltender in the two headed monster Brian Elliott and Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Mathieu Joseph

At the beginning of the season this team streak to the Eastern Conference lead before the January collapse. The team rebounded in March to right the ship. They ended the year winning four of the last five defeating the New York Islanders. The Tampa Bay Lightning started the season hot and heavy leading the east the first half of the year.

Old men Centers Steven Stamkos, Anthony Cirelli, and Brayden Point will carry the Bolts offense. Watch Ondrej Palat when Tampa Bay on the rush.

Goal Brother Pierre Edouard-Bellemare was traded from the Colorado Avalanche last year to join the repeat champion Bolts. He has peppered the nets with 70 shots and reminds many of P.K. Subban at the point with pinpoint slap shots on net.

Goal Brother Mathieu Joseph will continue the fight that former teammate J.T. Brown started many years ago for racial equality in sports. The young bloods are coming through the system

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

If there is a God in Heaven this could be the year the Leafs win the Cup ending the over 60 year draught. Auston Matthews becomes the first Yankee (American) to score 60 goals in one season. Goal Brother Wayne Simmons has finally found a home in Canada and playing solid defense. Simmonds has put fear in wingers eyes when they rush the Leafs net because they want to know where number 17 is skating. The Leafs are still looking for a goaltender and that could be the key to their championship.

BOSTON BRUINS

The Eastern Division Stealth Bombers, The Boston Bruins have been quiet all season long, just trying to make the playoffs. Boston just got a year older with the Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak line but they keep teams out of their net winning 4 of the last 5 entering the playoffs. Bergeron gets a hat trick against the Buffalo Sabres for his 400 career goals. The pesky Brad Marchand ended the season with 80p points and Charlie McAvoy will defend his goalie in the playoffs. Beware of the Bear…

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

The championship window is closing in on The Washington Capitals. The Caps are going backwards into the playoffs, losing three of last four games. They ended the season with the New York Rangers and a 3-2 loss Friday night. Head coach Peter Laviolette has squeezed all he could out of the Caps offense but this could be the end. The great number 8 Alex Ovechkin is in his seventeenth season and has scored 50 goals again with a upper body injury. This is not a good sign in the Nation’s Capital as their window begins to close. Once again there is a big hole at goaltending with the young Ilya Samsonov defending the fort.

Washington please retire that blue third jersey with the big ‘W’ in the middle and red stars. They look like the New York Rangers or Columbus Blue Jackets with blue paints. It is not a good look. The Washington Capital colors are red.

Washington is another team in transition and this could be the last year the Caps make the playoffs

NEXT: The Western Conference.

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad News Network Disabled Community Activist. Email at

glcgray@gmail.com

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

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