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.
-by Alaina Scarano-Isbouts
As most of you may have heard, all of the playoff spots have been clinched. The match-ups for the first round are still be determined, but now we all know who is in and who is out. Below is the Friday night recap of the last few games that determined playoff spots.
Minnesota 8, Nashville 4: Both the Wild and the Predators were losers of this game. Despite scoring 8 goals the Wild remained just 3 points shy of 8th place. The Predators had perhaps their worst game of the season as their last game of the season to stay 2 points out of 8th. If the Wild win their last game tomorrow, they will end the season in 9th place rather than 10th where they are now. Bye bye to both teams.
St. Louis 3, Columbus 1: Both teams have cinched playoff spots but can still move up or down in the standings. I am still loving the way St. Louis is playing; they are looking like a pretty good underdog pick right now — especially if they face San Jose. I don’t know if Columbus will make it out of the first round, but we’ll just see who they end up facing. They could potentially fall down to 8th if they lose their last game tomorrow and St. Louis wins against the Avs.
by Alaina Scarano-Isbouts
Last night, with seven playoff spots left still up for grabs, 26 different teams fought pretty damn hard to move in, move up or move closer to a chance for Tavares. Here is a recap of what went down in the most important games last night.
NY Rangers 3, Montreal 1: Montreal could have locked up a playoff spot with a win at The Garden. The Rangers didn’t yet clinch a playoff berth, but instead earned two extremely important points over the Canadiens. The win was crucial for the Rangers, who are now two points ahead of Florida and has the lead in wins if there were to be a tie. Was it just me or did Carey Price play like he was extremely nervous? The Montreal goalie (who was the topic of my first ever TAS article), after letting in a horrible 2nd goal that shouldn’t have been a goal at all, wasn’t up to his normal par. Price wasn’t covering the puck when he should have been and seemed to not be paying attention to where the puck was going to be — only looking at where it was that moment. Not to discredit the Rangers’ effort… after some speculation on exactly how great Chris Drury is Monday on TAS, it looks like Drury is showing up to the Rangers games after all. Drury had two goals and six shots on goal, truly living up to the C on his sweater.
Toronto 4, NJ 1: This game didn’t matter much for Toronto or NJ. The Devils had already cliched a playoff spot and the Leafs — although not giving up on a playoff run — were an extremely long shot. Martin Brodeur played another horrible game, letting in 4 goals, while the offense for NJ didn’t make much of an effort. Jamie Langenbrunner had the only goal — a power play goal in the 2nd period. Toronto picked up two ill-timed points to bring them to 79 and keep them out of the playoff run. The only news here is that NJ did not yet clinch the Atlantic Division title. NJ could be overtaken for the title if Philly wins their last three and the Devils lose their last two. It’s all going to depend on Brodeur and if he can play at the level he was playing less than a month ago.
It was announced recently that Sean Avery had cleared waivers and is poised to make a return to the NHL. If you do not recall Avery was suspend and later fired for some disparaging remarks aimed at other players. At this point, he has completed his treatment and orchestrated an opportunity to return the NHL.
To summarize from the articles: Dallas does not have an AHL affiliate therefore Avery needed to find another teams’ AHL affiliate that is willing to bring him on board. Once he is assigned to an AHL team, NHL franchises will be given the opportunity to pick him up. The new team and Dallas will split the cost 50/50 of his current contact. He still has a number of hurdles before a NHL can get to him but that is the gist of it. Fortunately, for Mr. Avery the Hartford Whalers Wolfpack want to give him a second chance.
Anyone check out ESPN’s “10 Burning Questions” online yet? While the questions are great, and they are questions I think any hockey fan has asked herself (or himself) in the few games since the All-Star break, I’ve got burning question number 11: anyone see a trend in these answers? Scott Burnside and E.J. Hradek are quite clearly taking the easy way out and answering these questions with what they’d like to see happen.
As a Ranger’s fan I took a considerable amount of heat last year for the Sean Avery vs Martin Brodeur incident. It now looks like Mr. Avery has found his way back in the papers in light of some recent “conduct detrimental to the league or game of hockey”. Sean Avery has a history of being stupid. Sports Illustrated has a nice time line of his stupid moves here. Now I liked Avery when he was in New York. Sure he did plenty of dumb stuff but, as the season progressed he calmed down and produced. Dallas has not had the same luck and they are most likely happy to see him sit.
Now what Avery did was stupid but, why suspend him? Hockey and sports in general have a way of self policing. If you go around running your mouth you will pay for it. Be it on the ice or on the board. I personally think the League has decided to take advantage of any chance they get to suspend him. Also I think it didn’t help when his own team didn’t defend him. As a matter of fact it was bad enough some people are questioning his future in Dallas.