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.
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.
Alexander Ovechkin has a bit of fun - remember fun? - at the NHL Skills Competition in 2009.
There are countless reasons why I love hockey more than any other sport. I will not list them all here — I know that most readers of Thin Air Sports are here to read about something other than hockey — but I will tell you one of them. I believe that hockey is more of a team sport than most other sports. Well not that it IS more of a team sport, but that the players have more respect for their teams. When a hockey player scores a goal, the first thing you’ll see him to is have a group “hug” with his teammates on the ice. You don’t see any of these ridiculous touchdown dance things, where players celebrate their general perceived-awesomeness because they ran the ball, forgetting the fact that someone ELSE was the one to throw it to them.
Enter Alexander Ovechkin, the fun-loving Russian (I think that used to be an oxymoron before he came along…).
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.