Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several days, you know by now that Dallas Stars emergency backup goaltender Tom Hodges suited up for the Anaheim Ducks during the last game of the season on Friday.
Unlike some past EBUGs, Hodges didn’t secure a win for the Ducks, but he did play a full period, making two saves on three shots. Overall, it was a rather surreal experience:
“It’s a memory that’s never going to fade,” Hodges said in an interview with The Athletic from his home in Texas hours after the Ducks’ 4-2 loss. “Just the sheer emotions alone would last a lifetime. The nerves. Just being so excited.
“I can’t even begin to describe how I’m feeling right now. I think I’m probably still processing it a little bit. Just ecstatic about the opportunity I’ve been given.”
Hodges, who is blind in one eye, has been the Stars’ emergency backup for a few years now, and has occasionally participated in practice as needed. It had been a couple months since he had taken the ice before suiting up for Anaheim, but the Ducks did their best to ensure it was a fun, not stressful, experience for Hodges:
“That was fun for us,” Ducks right wing Troy Terry said. “Once he comes in there, our attitude shifted to playing for him and we told him that. Obviously, you could tell he was nervous, so just trying to calm him down.
“When we went out there, we had a power play to start, and I think he asked me what the score was like 10 seconds before puck drop. I was like, ‘2-2. But don’t think about it.’ We just told him to have fun. We’re going to be happy no matter what happens, and we were just happy for him.”
You can read more about Tom Hodges and his journey up to this point from Eric Stephens here.
The Stars begin their playoff series against the Calgary Flames tomorrow at 9 PM CT, and boy are they the underdogs:
NHL Playoff Preview: R1 Flames vs. Stars with @domluszczyszyn— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 1, 2022
Unless Dallas can play their top line all game long, their chances of overcoming the Flames are slim. https://t.co/d7JThmMJgy pic.twitter.com/CixeHvhodF
The top lines are the top storyline heading into this particular matchup:
Top line against top line: Who's going to come out on top? https://t.co/rHzKJJA4yp via @NHLdotcom— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) May 2, 2022
Around the League
Eight teams won’t have to wait a day, as the Stanley Cup Playoffs start today:
- Carolina Hurricanes (2) vs Boston Bruins (6) at 6:00 PM CT.
- Toronto Maple Leafs (3) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (5) at 6:30 PM CT
- Minnesota Wild (2) vs St. Louis Blues (4) at 8:30 PM CT
- Edmonton Oilers (5) vs Los Angeles Kings (6) at 9:00 CT
Usually an advocate for Dallas, Greg Wyshynski becomes public enemy #1 after predicting the Stars get swept:
SPOILER WARNING: This is exactly how the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs are going to play out. #NHL https://t.co/PzLFT62yfH— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) May 1, 2022
Down Goes Brown offers his own thoughts on a postseason “power ranking:”
In the final weekend rankings of the season, we expand to a full Top 16 and rank every playoff teams Cup chances. Plus how the rankings did this year, the final Gold Plan standings, and more.— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) May 2, 2022
You can’t root for the Stars in every playoff series, so here are some individual players to cheer on instead:
Whether it be grizzly veterans, underdog players or the new guy on the block, here's 16 players to cheer for when the #StanleyCup playoffs begin from @mikeystephens81: https://t.co/XF3qRvPEjm— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) May 2, 2022
Finally, in an international stunner, Team USA lost 6-4 to Sweden in the gold medal game for the U-18 World Championship, despite outshooting them 51-15:
Men's U18 World Championship: Sweden stuns USA for gold; Finland takes bronze; plus tournament all-stars, award winners and a number of stray thoughts at the end of the tournament https://t.co/J842P7mcO3— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) May 1, 2022