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4 stats that explain the NHL playoffs so far

CBC Sports' daily newsletter looks at four interesting stats tied to four stars that could define these NHL playoffs.

McDavid's regular-season dominance, MacKinnon's exceptional post-season, more

MacKinnon's playoff career leaves him in rarefied air. (David Zalubowski/The Associated Press)

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The NHL playoffs are finally in full swing

With the regular season mercifully over and the final first-round series beginning tonight, let's recalibrate the NHL playoffs through some stars and their stats:

Auston Matthews: First Maple Leaf to win Rocket Richard Trophy

The 23-year-old is also the first Leaf to lead the league in goals since Gaye Stewart in 1946, whose 50 markers that year were more than Richard himself notched. For the first time since 1979, Matthews and the Leafs will face off in a playoff series against Richard's Montreal Canadiens. Toronto's offence may determine each team's fate, as the Habs rest their hopes on goalie Carey Price and defensive-ace centre Philip Danault to slow down Matthews, Mitch Marner and co. If they're successful, Montreal should be able to set the slow, physical tone it prefers. If not, it may be hard for the Canadiens to keep up with Toronto's firepower. Watch Game 1 tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET (CBC TV, here and catch up on the history of the Leafs-Habs rivalry in CBC Sports' Rob Pizzo's video below. You can also listen to author Roch Carrier read his beloved short story The Hockey Sweater here.

Connor McDavid: Largest margin of Art Ross victory in 30 years

McDavid recorded 21 more points than second-place teammate Leon Draisaitl to win the NHL's regular-season scoring race. That's the biggest gap since Wayne Gretzky finished 32 points ahead of Brett Hull in 1990-91. But McDavid's incredible season will be forgotten if his Oilers continue to be shut down by the Winnipeg Jets, who won Game 1 while holding McDavid, who had at least two points in each of their first nine meetings this season, pointless. Last night's game-winner was a weird one from Winnipeg's Dominic Toninato, as play continued for a few seconds amid confusion whether the tipped blast from the point hit the back of the net. Watch that goal and read more about the Jets' victory here.

Alex Ovechkin: 800 career goals, zero in playoff overtimes

That would be 730 in the regular season, plus 70 in 139 post-season games. The Great Eight scored No. 800 in the Capitals' 3-2 double-OT Game 3 loss against Boston yesterday. All three games in the series have required extra time, increasing Ovechkin's total to 42 career playoff OT opportunities. Account for all the games that required multiple extra frames, and that's a startling number of minutes without a goal from arguably the greatest goal-scorer ever. But he's in good company: Gordie Howe, Mark Messier and Mario Lemieux also never scored during playoff OT. Still, Ovechkin's most recent OT loss was a frustrating one, as goalie Ilya Samsonov misplayed the puck behind his net, leading to Craig Smith's game-winner for the Bruins. The Capitals and Bruins have now played 12 straight one-goal playoff games. Read more about the latest one here.

Nathan MacKinnon: Fourth all-time in playoff points per game

The top six goes: Gretzky (checks out), Lemieux (makes sense), Barry Pederson (who?), MacKinnon (whoa!), Messier (now we're back on track), Bobby Orr (order has been restored). MacKinnon completed his first playoff hat trick last night and owns a whopping seven points through two games (both wins) against St. Louis. But the Avalanche may have to finish out the series without centre Nazem Kadri, who faces his third playoff suspension in four years thanks to this hit to the head of Blues defenceman Justin Faulk. Colorado was supposed to be on a collision course to face Vegas in Round 2, but the Golden Knights encountered a tough foe in Minnesota that has their series knotted at one. Game 3 goes tonight.

Renewed after 42 years, how the Leafs-Habs playoff rivalry came to be

2 years ago
Duration 4:29
It's official, the Leafs and Habs will meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1979. Rob Pizzo goes back over 100 years into the archives to examine hockey's oldest rivalry.


Women's hockey's two factions appear closer to coming together. Since the Canadian Women's Hockey League folded two years ago, the sport splintered off into the National Women's Hockey League, which held an already established infrastructure, and the Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association, which houses almost all of the top players. Today, NWHL commissioner Tyler Tumminia acknowledged recent conversations with the PWHPA have been cordial, and both sides share the same vision for the sport. However, as priorities shifted to putting a product on ice during the pandemic, merger talks naturally cooled. The NWHL's Isobel Cup tournament was hit by COVID-19, forcing the playoffs to begin more than two months after the round-robin games in what was supposed to be a two-week event. The PWHPA, meanwhile, continues its Dream Gap Tour with a series of games in Calgary beginning on Monday. Read more about the latest discussions between the two here.

The second major of the PGA season teed off. It's understandable if golf fans in Ontario choose to play themselves instead of watching, as premier Doug Ford announced the ban on outdoor sports would be lifted as of Saturday. But for those who can't book a tee time, there are two groups you may want to keep an eye on at the PGA Championship. The first includes the last three major victors (Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa) while the second contains three of the biggest names in golf: Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka. All three are PGA champions, with McIlroy's victory coming in 2012 by a whopping eight strokes at the same course they're on this week — Kiawah Island in South Carolina. Koepka is currently among the co-leaders, one shot ahead of Canadian Corey Conners, who was still on the course as of our publish time. Check out the updated leaderboard here.

LeBron vs. Curry did not disappoint. The Lakers trailed by 13 at halftime, but righted the ship in time to set up a close finish. That's when Draymond Green appeared to poke James in the eye (Green fouling James in a big game sure sounds familiar), causing James some apparent eyesight issues. Soon after, James found the ball in his hands with the game tied in the final minute, and hit a three-point heave that wound up as the game-winner. Curry responded with 37 points, including this halftime buzzer-beater, in the loss. Los Angeles now plays Phoenix in the first round, while Golden State must battle Memphis on Friday to earn the final playoff spot in the West. Read more about Lakers-Warriors and watch James' game-winner here.

And finally...

Just your regular, everyday no-hitter. Yankees starter Corey Kluber shut down the Rangers yesterday for the sixth no-no of 2021, and the second in as many nights. MLB says it's not official, but if you include Madison Bumgarner's seven-inning no-hitter earlier this year, then the all-time record for no-hitters in a season has already been matched. The question now is whether this was the natural evolution of pitchers' increasing dominance, or merely a weird statistical anomaly. The last perfect game was authored by Felix Hernandez in 2012 — a season in which a record three were thrown. Read more about Kluber's no-hitter here.

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