Top 10 Things We’ve Learned From NHL Playoffs…One Week In
Total Pro Sports- Last night’s games marked the end of the first week in the NHL’s 2009 Playoff’s. With some series still up in the air, others all but done, and one in the books already, here are the Top 10 things we have learned so far:
10. The Anaheim Ducks are no ordinary 8 seed: The San Jose Sharks were Cup favorites for many, but then they got lined up in the first round with Anaheim. Some questioned this, but most thought it wouldn’t be much of a problem. Well we are finding out quickly that it is more than just a problem. It is a disaster! These Ducks look like they can be the Oilers of 2006, who finished in 8th, but ended up in the Finals only to lose to Carolina. There defense is strong with great depth, and their young goalkeeper Jonas Hiller has proven he can win some games in the playoffs. Seeded 8th, Anaheim has the potential to make a suprising run.
9. The Boston Bruins are for real: They cruised through the rugular season, but many questioned just what the Bruins were capable of in the playoffs. A similar team on paper to the one that lost last year in the first round to the Montreal Canadiens, the Boston looked like they had really come together in the regular season and progressed a great deal over one summer. They are now showing the Habs, and the rest of the league that they are true cup contenders, leading their best-of-seven series against the Canadiens 3-0. The play has been almost completely one-sided with Boston, making it look as though men are playing against boys. That is somewhat the story, but it leaves some wondering if it would have worked out the same way had Montreal had its full lineup.
8. Martin Brodeur is quite grumpy at his age: Last year it was the Avery incident and and his refusal to shake hands at the end of the series. Last night he topped that with a post-game blowup on referees Eric Furlatt and Wes McCauley. Thinking he was bumped just prior to the game winning goal that occurred with 0.2 seconds left on the clock in regulation. The play was under review, but once determined a goal, Brodeur had some choice words for the refs at center, then proceeded to smash and toss his stick as he left the ice. We will see how he responds to this with the series headed back to New Jersey tied 2-2.
7. At 20 years of age, Jonathan Toews can dominate: Coming into their first playoff visit since 2002, the Blackhawks had plenty of questions surrounding their youth. A 20 years old captain may be cause for concern for some teams. But not Chicago. Not with Toews. When he has been on the ice, he has taken control (just ask Pierre Maguire). Posting 2 goals and 3 assists in 3 games thus far to help give his team a 2-1 series lead against the Calgary Flames, it looks like the fans in Chicago have a lot to look forwards to for years to come.
6. Marc-Andre Fleury and the Pens don’t care much for curses: Everyone knows the story. Those who lose in the cup finals usually don’t fair to well the following year. Well the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t interested in such talk. In a tough, grind-it-out series against the Philedelphia Flyers, the Pens find themselves with a 3-1 lead thanks to some great goal-tending from Fleury, the usual scoring from Crosby and Malkin, and some timely work from Guerin, Kennedy and the rest of their role players. Pitt is on a mission, looking to for a two-win improvement from their journey last year that brought them so close.
5. Avery still has it: Yes, Avery does still have it. What does that mean though, we aren’t to sure. Whether its playing great, tough hockey, like he did in games 1 and 2 when his New York Rangers won, or taking stupid penalties and doing things your only see him do, like in game 3 when his team lost, you can always count on something from this guy. Tortorella seemed to have figured him out, but unless Sean Avery sticks to winning games for his club, rather than losing them, he may not find himself on the ice for long.
4. Some Habs fans are just confused: Here we go again. No respect for the American national anthem at the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens. Now we can all understand that this has a lot to do with the bitter rivalry and great amount of pride held in the battle between Boston and Montreal, but don’t they realize that some of their key players are from the US? What do you think Schneider, Higgens, Komisarek and Bouillon are thinking when they hear that? Makes no sense to me.
3. Hate is at its highest point during playoff time: The regular season is no stranger to a fight or a scrum, but the playoffs brings a whole new atmosphere to the rinks. After every whistle there is a great chance that someone will get a glove to the face, and series between Chicago and Calgary, Pittsburgh and Philly and Montreal and Boston have all been extra heated, with the former seeing intense brawls and several plays being reviewed by NHL headquarters, and the latter two witnessing suspensions. This is only the first round, but its becoming clear to see how the NHL playoffs is the toughest professional sporting playoff season to survive.
2. There is no Stanley Cup hangover in Detroit this year: Some were worried about their will to win, others about their goal-tending. All these questions have come to answer themselves after just three games. The Wings are clicking offensively, putting up four goals in each game on rookie standout Steve Mason (one was an empty netter), and Osgood has been OsGreat, allowing just 2 goals in three games and backing up his team when needed. Now Detroit looks to go into the next round well rested, but their journey only gets tougher from here.
1. The Vancouver Canucks are Canada’s only shot at a Cup this year: Yes, you heard it. If Canada wants to see the Stanley Cup come home for 2009, the only hope is the Vancouver Canucks. With the Habs down 3-0 and the Flames looking like a big question mark in the West, it seems evident that it will come down to Vancouver as Canada looks for the its first Stanley Cup since Montreal won it back in 1993, and with the Olympics being held there next year, what better place to break the streak futility.