Top 10 plays of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs
It's only been one day since the Colorado Avalanche denied the Tampa Bay Lightning a three-peat by claiming the Stanley Cup on Sunday night, but we wouldn't blame you if you're already upset that the 2021-22 season is over.
Fans are about to embark on a few, sad months without hockey, but have no fear! We've compiled the 10 best plays of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs to help everyone ease into the offseason.
Let's count 'em down.
10. Cirelli takes a page from Kucherov's book 📖
Anthony Cirelli has officially graduated from Nikita Kucherov's class on the art of the no-shot goal. Regardless of whether Cirelli did this intentionally or not, he still gets full marks because it looked so dang cool.
Cirelli brought the puck to his stick from his skate midstride and pushed his way to the crease. He then lost control of the puck - or maybe it was all a part of his master plan - and it slid right under Darcy Kuemper's pad. No matter what, Cirelli will always get to say that he scored the Bolts' first goal of their crucial Game 3 victory against the Avalanche.
9. Shesterkin's also a playmaker 😎
With the Rangers facing elimination in their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Shesterkin took matters into his own hands in Game 6 - not with a timely save, but with a clutch saucer pass. He ventured far outside his crease and fired a three-zone bullet right on Mika Zibanejad's tape. Chris Kreider finished the job by knocking home the rebound.
8. Kucherov and Colton apparently aren't fans of OT ⏰
Sure, overtime is fun for fans, but Nikita Kucherov and Ross Colton know how stressful that extra frame can be. So, the Lightning duo took care of business with 3.8 seconds remaining in Game 2 of their second-round bout against the Florida Panthers.
Pouncing all over the Panthers' defensive breakdown, Kucherov slyly flicked the puck to a wide-open Colton from behind the net. Colton, who has a penchant for scoring clutch game-winners after netting the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in 2021, isn't going to miss from there.
7. Burakovsky's disappearing act 🧙♂️
Saying this shot from Andre Burakovsky had a little bit of sauce on it is a bit of an understatement.
The puck came off the Avalanche sniper's stick so hard that it ripped through the top of the netting and rolled down the back of the net. Nashville Predators goalie Connor Ingram froze as if he'd been scored on, but play continued for about one minute before officials reviewed it. Turns out, Burakovsky had opened the scoring in Game 4 of the first-round clash with one of the oddest goals in playoff history.
6. Guentzel is a multisport athlete, apparently 🤷
What can't Penguins talent Jake Guentzel do?!
In a sequence that rolled three sports into one, he first kicked the puck up to his stick like he was playing soccer after taking a bouncing pass from Bryan Rust. Then, he channeled his inner major leaguer by batting the puck out of midair past a reaching Shesterkin. The play against the Rangers is mind-boggling in real time, but every aspect of Guentzel's show-stopping Game 7 feat truly shines during the replay.
5. So many goals, so little time 🚨
This is technically a sequence rather than one play, but come on. The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers' goal-scoring outburst in Game 5 of the second round more than earned a place on these rankings.
The provincial rivals lit the lamp four times in 1:11, which set the record for the fastest four goals scored in playoff history. Oilers forward Zach Hyman started the frenzy, Flames star Johnny Gaudreau responded 15 seconds later, and Calgary forward Calle Jarnkrok found the back of the net 16 seconds after that. Edmonton defenseman Evan Bouchard rounded out the action with a bomb 40 seconds later. You'll want to experience the madness again.
4. McDavid's a machine 🤖
Trying to stop Connor McDavid when he goes into overdrive is hard. Like, really hard. That's a lesson the Los Angeles Kings learned well during Game 7 of their first-round clash against the Oilers.
The Edmonton phenom was relentless on his way through the offensive zone. The puck seemed like it'd follow McDavid around forever. After a couple of attempts, he finally beat Jonathan Quick, who was down and out after the mind-melting sequence. If you think McDavid is appearing a bit too early on this list, don't worry: You'll see him again.
3. Makar will haunt the Predators' dreams for a while 😳
Avalanche blue-liner Cale Makar added insult to injury when he lit up the Predators with this sickening goal.
He crept up along the wall, sidestepped his way past forward Tanner Jeannot at the blue line, and drove to the net. Then, disaster ensued for Nashville. David Rittich was helpless in his crease as Makar went backhand to forehand and banked the puck off the netminder's mask. Makar is a 23-year-old defenseman. The fact that he can execute plays like this is just unfair.
2. That one will count, McDavid 😱
If at first you don't succeed, go scorched-earth. McDavid forced his way through defenseman Noah Hanifin in Game 2 against the Flames for a seemingly dominant goal, but it was disallowed due to goaltender interference. The star appeared to take the call as a personal slight.
Later, McDavid took goaltender Jacob Markstrom for a very unenjoyable ride, dangling and leaping his way past the Vezina Trophy finalist for arguably his best play of the postseason. That's saying a lot given that McDavid paced all skaters in the playoffs for weeks with 33 points in just 16 games.
1. MacKinnon has a field day against the Blues 🎩
Nathan MacKinnon, we aren't worthy. Though the Avalanche lost Game 5 to the St. Louis Blues in the second round, this goal is so good on its own that it still deserves the No. 1 spot on this list.
MacKinnon flexed his blistering speed, bursting past the Blues en route to the net. He also stickhandled his way by Nick Leddy and, for his grand finale, ripped the puck top shelf. There's no doubt this goal, which capped off a hat trick for MacKinnon, will populate postseason highlight reels for the foreseeable future.