As The Playoffs Approach...
If the regular season ended today, the Phoenix Coyotes would play the LA Kings as the 4/5 matchup in round 1. That means that one of those teams would be guaranteed to be in round 2…. Jumping ahead a bit… If Phoenix were to somehow win the Cup I would vomit. The Team in Phoenix deserves to be in the NHL playoffs. Ilya Bryzgalov has stepped up and delivered. It’s the lack of fan support and ineptness of ownership (and the NHL’s stupidity in keeping that sinking ship in Arizona) that anger me. Those players should be playing in Winnipeg, Quebec City, or Hamilton, where fans give a crap.
The Nashville Predators recently clinched a playoff berth. Congratulations to these 3 teams(Nash, LA, PHX) for overachieving. Especially Phoenix, which looked headed for a fiery crash, organizationally.
Who will be favored in the Detroit-Vancouver series, if that is in fact the 3/6 matchup? It’s easy to look at the goaltending. Detroit’s rookie tender, Jimmy Howard, is a Calder candidate. Roberto Luongo is having a below average season by his astronomical standards(6th in wins, 17th in GAA, 18th in SV %). If Luongo raises his game, The Sedins produce and perhaps rattle Jimmy Howard, and the Canucks D tightens up, they could top Detroit and then have an “easier” 2nd round opponent. Just facing the Red Wings seems like a mental hurdle for Vancouver; even if they are ranked higher in the standings. Detroit won the season series 3-1 this year, with one OT victory among the 4 matchups.
How does Chris Drury always score important goals? If the Rangers make the playoffs, they’ll owe it in part to Drury and his heroics. He may not be…, wait, HE IS NOT WORTH 7 Million per season, but he does have a knack for scoring important goals.
For those of you who grew up watching Slap-Shot on a monthly basis, here's an interesting article on the background of the team/league that inspired the film: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=523471
I guess the meditative ‘team-bonding walk’ didn’t pan out for Lindy Ruff. The Canadiens needed and wanted it more tonight. The Canadiens don’t worry me as a 1st round opponent, but it’s never good to drop a 3-0 decision with your All-World goaltender in net, to the team you might soon be playing 7 straight games against. The Sabres lost tonight in Montreal to Les Canadiens. See, http://www.wgr550.com/Habs-Stop-Sabres-3-0/6723408 for full game recap.
If at all possible, I’d like to see Tim Connolly and Vanek back in the lineup for the final 2-3 games. Team chemistry will take a big hit if those 2 are absent for the final 10 games of the regular season; a streak of 10 games that The Team is apparently not taking all that seriously to begin with.
Buffalo slips back to 3rd place. New Jersey and Pittsburgh are neck and neck for the 2/4 spots. For Buffalo, the difference between 2nd and 4th place would be huge as far as 1st round opponent (Boston or Ottawa). Lucky for Buffalo, New Jersey or Pittsburgh will jump on the Ottawa grenade in round 1.
Tyler Myers looked human tonight. He may win the Calder trophy, but he’s far from a ‘great’ defenseman. He’s got amazing physical tools and game sense. His rushes are reminiscent of Brian Campbell. I believe the real hockey minds behind the Tyler Myers hype see his potential, rather than his current ability. He has been burned many times this season. On the other hand, he does face up against the opponent’s top lines, including Crosby, Ovechkin, St. Louis, Parise, Kovalchuk, Gaborik, etc. Not exactly easy assignments. I wish Tyler Myers played angrier. Once he gets up to 240lbs (currently 220) I want to see him inflicting Chara/Pronger-type hits on opponents. Players are afraid of Chara & Pronger. Tyler Myers doesn’t have that intimidation factor yet, nor has he shown he deserves it.
The Sabres have their playoff spot locked up. I am scared. Every year there’s a 2 or 3 seed that coasts into the playoffs and gets their clocks cleaned by an underdog. The Sabres used to be the #7 seed that did this to teams like Ottawa, back in the day. Hopefully they regain the fire needed to fight through a tough first round matchup.