Each Friday throughout the season Kevin Weekes will bring you his Friday Four. He will be blogging about four players, teams, plays, or trends that have caught his eye.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets used a team game, with contributions from all players, in their stunning sweep of the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round. Tampa Bay outscored Columbus 17-3 in three games during the regular season and took a 3-0 lead in the first period of Game 1, but it was all Blue Jackets after that. Columbus outscored Tampa Bay 19-5 in the final 11 periods of the series.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who had five wins in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games prior to the Tampa Bay series, was excellent, with a 2.01 goals-against average and .932 save percentage against the highest scoring team in the League. He stepped up his game immensely at the time he and the team needed it most.
Columbus frustrated Tampa Bay to no end. Nikita Kucherov, who had an NHL-best 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists) during the regular season, had two assists in three playoff games. Steven Stamkos, who had 45 goals and 98 points during the regular season, had two points (one goal, one assist) in four games against the Blue Jackets. Brayden Point, who had 92 points (41 goals, 51 assists) during the regular season, had one goal in four playoff games. The leading scorer for the Lightning during the series was defenseman Eric Cernak with three points, all assists, which provides a good indication that the stars didn't show up.
Video: Blue Jackets sweep Lightning for first series win
New York Islanders
It starts with goalie Robin Lehner, who was one of the best goalies during the regular season and carried that into the playoffs. He allowed six goals in four games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and helped limit Sidney Crosby (one assist), Phil Kessel (one goal, one assist) and Evgeni Malkin (one goal, two assists) to a combined six points (two goals, four assists).
The Islanders' defensive structure, which has been a staple all season, was on full display during the series. The Islanders were relentless on the forecheck and didn't give the Penguins many opportunities.
And how about the resurgence of forward Jordan Eberle? After he had 37 points (19 goals, 18 assists) in 78 regular-season games, he had six points (four goals, two assists) against the Penguins. Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had three goals for the Islanders, who had seven players score at least one goal in four games against the Penguins. The Islanders will be a tough team in the second round no matter their opponent.
Video: Islanders advance with sweep of Penguins
After losing the first two games, the Hurricanes won each of their home games to tie the best-of-7 series 2-2. Goalie Petr Mrazek has been outstanding throughout the series with a 2.00 GAA, a .919 save percentage and one shutout. He made 30 saves in a 2-1 win in Game 4 on Thursday.
Warren Foegele has been their best forward in the series with five points (three goals, two assists). Defenseman Jaccob Slavin has five assists and defenseman Dougie Hamilton has four points (two goals, two assists). The Hurricanes are getting scoring from throughout the lineup, with 11 players with at least two points in the series.
The fans have PNC Arena rocking after they hadn't had a playoff game there in 10 years, and they'll get a chance to have at least one more moment with Game 6 on Monday. Game 5 is at Capital One Arena on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, SN1, TVAS).
Video: Talking about Mrazek's great performance thus far
Philipp Grubauer has carried his regular-season success to the playoffs, which has been great for the Avalanche. He's helped them to a 3-1 series lead against the Calgary Flames in the Western Conference First Round, allowing nine goals in four games. Colorado will have three chances to close the series, starting with Game 5 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, ALT).
Forwards Gabriel Landeskog (three assists), Nathan MacKinnon (three goals, two assists) and Mikko Rantanen (three goals, three assists) have combined for 14 points (six goals, eight assists). They carried Colorado all season and are doing it again when it's needed most. The Avalanche are getting offense from places other than their top line; forwards Matt Nieto has four points (two goals, two assists) and J.T. Compher has three points (two goals, one assist).
Colorado has had some stingy defense against a potent Calgary team. Since allowing four goals in Game 1, the Avalanche have outscored the Flames 12-6. It will be interesting to see how they come out in Game 6.
Video: CGY@COL, Gm4: Grubauer lifts pad for terrific OT save