Playoff Ramblings

Here are some thoughts on the playoffs over the past couple weeks:

My post praising Miroslav Satan’s performance during the playoffs must have been the ultimate jinx. He carried a six game point streak when I wrote about how excellent he had been. In the four games that followed, and an epic collapse by the Bruins, Satan posted zero points, was a minus one, and only had nine shots on goal. Good news for the Bruins though, they’re still going to land either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin in the draft this summer.

Daniel Briere has been huge for the Flyers in the playoffs
Daniel Briere has been huge for the Flyers in the playoffs

The Philadelphia Flyers are the first ever seven seed to end up with home ice advantage in a playoff series. How did they pull this off? Well, I think its fair to say that they aren’t necessarily as bad as their seed and 88 point season may indicate. Remember this team has several young, but experienced, scorers. Mike Richards has been great, and Danny Briere has played his best playoff hockey picking up 17 points so far, with seven multi-point games. On top of that, the Flyers are picking up a lot of secondary scoring, especially in Claude Giroux who has six goals and seven assists in 13 playoff games. Ville Leino, a late season acquisition, has even made his presence felt with nine points in as many games. You certainly can’t forget about the defensive prowess this team has, lead by perennial all star Chris Pronger. He’s more than capable of shutting down the oppositions top scorers.

So perhaps the Philadelphia Flyers are finally molding into the team that many thought they were going to be. Maybe the leadership issues and problems in the locker room are a thing of the past. They have all the confidence and momentum in the world right now, and will be a tough team to handle.

The Chicago Blackhawks are outstanding. Young captain, Jonathan Toews has been very impressive so far with 21 post-season points. Goaltending has not been the huge issue everyone thought it would be. Antti Niemi has been solid, and has out-dueled two very good goaltenders in Pekka Rinne and Roberto Luongo.

Things seem to be clicking on all cylinders for the Blackhawks, minus the presence of two players. Marian Hossa had a very good first round against Nashville, posting six points in the series. But since them, he’s been very quiet, much like last year, with only three points in the seven games played since finishing off the Predators. Along with Hossa, Kris Versteeg has been less productive than I expected so far. His six points and minus two rating seem low for a young player with the talent level he has. Remember, Versteeg posted terrific numbers as a rookie last season, but is perhaps seeing a decrease in ice time with the top line being so effective.

The San Jose Sharks are still very much competitive in the west. It seemed like everyone wrote them off after being crushed by the Red Wings in game four of that series. Did everyone just forget that they still had a 3-1 series lead? Even if they were still the Sharks who choke in the playoffs, they could have surely taken one game and prevented the Wings from going on. But instead, they bounced back like a true contender and eliminated Detroit in five.

Montreal is having one of the most impressive playoff campaigns in recent years that I can remember. First, they squandered the top seeded Washington Capitals in seven games. This is a team that featured several of the world’s top players: Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, and Green. Then, they followed that performance with a seven game dismantling of the defending Stanley Cup champions. Surely a team that can take out two of the top NHL clubs is capable of making it to the finals, right?

Finally, here’s to hoping for an original six match-up in the finals.

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