Otters, Maple Leafs trying to rewrite their story

The Wraparound is your everyday look for the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers. We’ll break down today’s NHL playoffs with very important TV information.

• Check out all of Friday’s action in the NHL Stanley Cup with the NHL Rink Wrap here.

• Both the Rangers and the Superstars forced the seventh game on Sunday with Friday night’s win.

• It’s been 26 years but the Panthers are finally heading into the second round of the playoffs.

Every 7 game is a great game no matter the teams and no matter the round. But two of those 7s Saturday night look especially big for what it would mean for two franchises that were often overlapping streaks, and two of the NHL’s biggest stars Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews.

They are two of the most dynamic players in the league.

McDavid is the league’s most dominant overall offensive force. Matthews is currently the top scorer in the league. They have collectively won one playoff series in their career. The lack of success of matches is not necessarily about them, but more about the teams and organizations around them. The current Maple Leafs heart has lost five consecutive opening rounds (including one in a bubble playoff against Columbus), including two where they had chances to close out the series. After losing Game Six on Thursday against Tampa Bay, they have now lost eight straight games in which they could seal a streak, while the organization has yet to win a playoff series since the 2004 playoffs. This team cannot go through a first-round exit for the sixth time in a row with that spot. Major changes are not expected to be avoided. If nothing else, the jokes, criticism, and doubts about how good they are in reality will continue.

Toronto did everything they could on Thursday in terms of playing the right way but nonetheless managed to lose in an unbelievable way. They have to change their narrative. If they can overcome Thursday’s loss and beat the defending Stanley Cup title in Game 7, it would go a long way toward doing so. This may actually be the hack this core needs to actually become a serious Stanley Cup contender.

But for all of Toronto’s flaws and qualifying shortcomings, it at least gets there consistently.

This is not always the case with McDavid and Oilers. In the seven years of McDavid-Leon Draisaitl’s reign, this is only the fourth time they’ve actually qualified for the playoffs, and that includes the 2020 bubble in which they made the expanded field (and then lost to a bad team from Chicago in the playoff round.). Given that the Oilers had two top offensive players, each a better player, and consistently failed to put a playoff team around them, that’s a huge disappointment. Depth of scoring was consistently poor, defense lacked presence, and they struggled to find goalkeepers, while showing little urgency in fixing any of those deficiencies while MacDavid and Driesitl were still in their early years.

What makes the Oilers’ lack of success so frustrating is that when they make it to the playoffs, they don’t really lose to strong teams or struggle to compete with Stanley Cup contenders. In 2020, they lost three of their four games in the qualifying round to the Chicago Blackhawks who finished 23rd in the league standings and only made it to post-season due to the expanded playoffs. This Chicago team has been one of the worst teams in the league ever for the past four years. A year ago they played four games against a mid-level Winnipeg Jets and ended up missing the playoffs entirely this season. Now they find themselves in Game 7 against the rebuilt Los Angeles Kings that few people expected would have a chance of making the playoffs. The Kings just happen to be playing without their best defense (Drew Dottie) and one of the team’s best players (Victor Arvidson). Losing this series, against this team, after losing the previous two series with McDavid and Draisaitl would be brutal for the front office.

These two teams have a chance to change their narrative on the same night. The win at least gives them something to hang on to and build on, this season and the future. But losing is just the same thing that simply isn’t enough.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

Game 7: Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes, 4:30 p.m. ET – ESPN, SN360, SNE, SNW, SNP, TVAS (Series linked 3-3): It’s kind of a shocker for this series even at this point given the way it started and the way the regular season series went. Through their first five head-to-heads this season, the Hurricanes were 5-0 against the Bruins and outdid them by 26-4. In the four games since then? The Bruins lead 3-1 with 15-11 goals and take out a dominant and impressive Game 6 performance on Thursday. Carolina has the home ice, but all bets are off in case of Game 7. Carolina is supposed to be one of the top cup contenders in the NHL while Boston is the team that swings (in theory), so you have to assume all the pressure is on Carolina here. .

Game 7: Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET – TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS (Series linked 3-3): Team Lightning is looking to continue their pursuit of consecutive championships with Game 7 on the road in Toronto. The Maple Leafs are looking to advance to the second round for the first time in 18 years and beat eight straight games with a chance to win a series. If Toronto wins this game, the narrative around the franchise and this core group of players begins to change. If it doesn’t, it’s just the same.

Game 7: Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers, 10pm ET – ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS (Series linked 3-3)Win or lose this has been a great season for the Kings because this was supposed to be another year for them to rebuild. Instead, it was a huge step forward and they are just one win away from making another leap in the second round, a situation no one expected this season. Especially playing the first role without Doughty and Arvidson. All the pressure, as above, is on Edmonton here who desperately needs to make his own move here. They are long overdue for progress.

Sunday NHL Playoff Schedule

Game 7: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers (Series tied 3-3), 7pm ET – TBS, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360
Game 7: Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames (Series tied 3-3), 9:30 PM ET – ESPN2, SN, TVAS

Preview of PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

Hurricanes vs Bruins
Penguin vs Rangers
• Oilers vs. Kings
flames vs stars

First round, Stanley Cup predictions
Why your team will win (and won’t win) the Stanley Cup

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Leave him a line phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter Tweet embed.

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