2008 Finals or 2009?
Anyone starting to lose a bit of interest in the Conference Finals yet? You aren’t the only one. Fans from Chicago to Pittsburgh to Carolina to Detroit are probably thinking the same thing… “Wait a minute, this seems a bit familiar…” And it isn’t that much fun.
Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. Last year it was Dallas who made it to the Western finals against Detroit. And last year it was the Flyers who made it to the Eastern conference finals against Pittsburgh. But all the same, things are starting to look a little too familiar to everyone else around the league. Last year, it was both Detroit and Pittsburgh who conquered in the conference finals and moved on to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Three teams will be calling it a season tonight, then it's on to conference finals.
Today and tomorrow, three teams will be eliminated from the playoffs. Of course this is the nature of the playoffs — as long as one team wins, the other one loses and their season is over. To me, game 7s are the epitome of hockey. They are fast paced, they get dirty, and usually only one goal makes the entire difference. Expect at least one of these games to go in to overtime — and my money is on the Caps – Pens game. Read on for previews of all the lucky, and maybe not so lucky, game 7 players.
– by Alaina Scarano-Isbouts
Ahh, the playoffs. While it is the best time of the hockey season, it is also the time of the year when you can throw out the window everything you think you know. No predictions are guaranteed. No players are even guaranteed. Injuries are undisclosed. It’s a time when everyone is reminded why they really, really love this game. In fact, here are the five things I love about hockey because of the 2009 post-season so far.
#5 – Ovechkin versus Crosby
Who would have thought we’d see this? Sure, I picked each team to advance (and so did most people, I’m sure), but all the same it’s exciting as hell to watch these two international superstars battle for their teams. The excitement came to an all time high on Monday, as both Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby notched hat tricks. Ovechkin scored his late in the 3rd to dash any hopes the Pens had of winning the game in OT. Washington is now up 2-0 in the series, but I’m sure it will be an entirely different game when the Pens get home ice back tonight for game 3 (5pm mountain). This series has it all: the superstars, a hot rivalry, two incredible and young goaltenders, passion, scoring and even a few veterans who could be playing for their last shot at the cup (read: Bill Guerin and Sergei Fedorov). As Markus Naslund proved, anyone can be in the middle of their last season – not just Joe Sakic. Ovechkin and Crosby have brought enough fans to the game already, now hopefully they can help bring their sport to center stage (or ice). I just hope this is a 7 game series… can you imagine anything more exciting? This just could be the playoff series to end all playoff series.
The rivalry continues.
I’m sure I’ve lost plenty of credibility after my round 1 matchups, but I’m giving round 2 a shot anyway.
Here’s a recap of my round 1 picks and who advanced:
Boston v. Montreal – Boston in 6 – actual was Boston in 4
Washington v. New York – Washington in 6 – actual was Washington in 7
NJ v. Carolina – Carolina in 7 – actual was Carolina in 7
Pittsburgh v. Philadelphia – Pittsburgh in 7 – actual was Pittsburgh in 6
San Jose v. Anaheim – San Jose in 5 – actual was Anaheim in 6
Detroit v. Columbus – Detroit in 6 – actual was Detroit in 4
Vancouver v. St. Louis – St. Louis in 6 – actual was Vancouver in 4
Chicago v. Calgary – Chicago in 6 – actual was Chicago in 6
So actually I only guessed wrong in two teams… let’s see if I can do a better job here. This time, let’s preview the western conference first since they were decided much earlier – no series in the West went to 7.
In what was without a doubt the most incredible minute of the entire playoff season so far, the Carolina Hurricanes pulled off a huge upset to beat the New Jersey Devils in a span of less than a minute.
With less than a minute left in the game, Carolina was frantically trying to score a 3rd goal to tie it up and send it in to OT to save their season. But thanks to all the heart in the world of Tim Gleason, who dived to pass the puck over to Joni Pitkanen, who passed to Jussi Jokinen, who was able to get a snap shot past Martin Brodeur, Carolina was ready for an OT. Everyone was ready for OT. Reporters were making their way to the locker rooms to do pre-OT interviews, and then it happened.
Eric Staal, still not ready to accept overtime, got his wrister right in the back of the net. You could immediately see the tears in Staal’s eyes as it hit the entire team that they had just ended New Jersey’s season in a span of 80 seconds.
You know what this means? This means a Washington – Pittsburgh match-up for round 2…
I was going to call it a night, but in my “down time” from the live blog we put on the Carolina-NJ game and saw the most spectacular minute in hockey this round. In what was definitely the most thrilling game of the night, the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New Jersey Devils in the last 0.2 seconds of the game. Dennis Seidenberg hit Martin Brodeur with a one-timer that went right past him – and understandably so. Jussi Jokinen was right in front him, so much in front of him that the puck bounced off his skate.
A few things here. First of all the goal was under review because the officials, like the fans, like the players, like the coaches, all thought the game was over. Everyone was getting ready for overtime. But once the goal was reviewed, something else became clear: Jokinen was clearly guilty of interference in front of Brodeur, screening him and making illegal contact.
I’ve never seen Brodeur lose it like this, but it’s hard to blame him. I’m a little biased because I picked Carolina, but all the same that was obvious illegal contact. Brodeur argued with the officials before slamming his stick on to the ice repeatedly. Check out the video of the goal here:
The bottom line is, bad call or not, the series is now tied at 2 to take it back to NJ. This is definitely going to be a 7 game series — and a fantastic one at that. Watch for the game to be a bit more physical in NJ on Thursday.
After a few looooooong nights, the first round of first round games are through. I think it’s fair to say we’ve seen some pretty fantastic games so far, a few surprises and maybe even a fight or two. Not bad – the players seem to be getting off on the right feet so far. I’ve decided to break down the most significant events of Game Ones into the three categories: good, bad or ugly.
Good: NY Rangers. That was the best game I have seen so far and I’m pretty stoked the Rangers won. Yes, I know I picked the Caps to take the series – and I still think they will – but I knew the Rangers were going to come out swinging and play with a lot of heart. But if they are going to win another game they have to play better defense on A.O. Henrik Lundqvist was the only reason that Ovechkin didn’t score (although he did notch two assists). But besides not holding off Ovechkin to the best of their abilities (although he did get hit five times in the 1st alone), the Rangers played a fantastic game. Sean Avery was at his absolute worst; picking meaningless fights and complaining like it was his job – oh wait, that’s right, it is his job. Rumor has it that NY Captain Chris Drury will be back tomorrow… let’s hope so. I think the Caps will take game two.