这导致在东部转向倒挂，西一个令人难以置信的有趣的第一轮锯系列统治任何人，但造成了大部分粉笔第二轮。 荣誉的表演提出了菲尼克斯野狼，科罗拉多雪崩队和洛杉矶国王队谁在多年的演出超过极好每个队的第一场季后赛亮相。 洛杉矶国王队和科罗拉多雪崩队证明了他们将是一个可行的队伍相当长一段时间，因为每个年轻的玩家群体只会从中吸取经验教训，继续让自己变得更好。 八大系列七赴至少有六场比赛，这意味着第二轮中得到了非常多的辜负。
加拿大人做了什么，多数人认为是不可能的，一旦得到了一系列以3-1华盛顿优势。 据认为，该上限是脆弱的一个冷门，但不是的方式，蒙特利尔，最终拉断底价...辩护。 华盛顿未能得分，传统智慧告诉你，如果满地可关闭华盛顿话，肯定他们就可以做同样的事情到匹兹堡...对不对？ 不太可能。 首先加拿大人依赖过于倚重雅罗斯拉夫·哈拉是几乎完美。 哈拉可能有几场比赛中他这样的，但他不能发挥这样的夜晚和夜晚的休息的方式。 此外，企鹅是一个多物理队比华盛顿，因此可以更有效地穿你下要比可能的上限。 也有永远存在的无形的企鹅，这是他们的经验。 华盛顿是不确定他们能否赢得当事情变得糟糕，但匹兹堡不会有疑问的，因为他们知道，（从2-0次，上赛季5-0损失在5场比赛的红翼在回来后总决赛），他们必须击败任何人在任何时候，无论在什么情况下的能力。 而蒙特利尔将被证明是一个强硬的对手匹兹堡这是不可能的克罗斯比和公司将被顽强的哈布斯队被赶下台。 匹兹堡将继续前进。
这可能是最有趣的比赛，在这一轮在纸面上。 两队都发挥着非常实际的游戏所以很多的大热门将被交易。 除此之外但是飞行物有优势。 虽然依靠二次得分两队都提前到圆2飞行物有更好的首要得分选择。 这是不可能的卡特，布里埃，其余的将在检查这阵子举行。 波士顿表明无力得分（什么样的球队我还以为他们会当我拿起他们赢得东部季前赛）在本赛季的进程，这可能不会改变。 出于这个原因，我正在费城。
恭喜圣何塞的最后战斗的第一回合恶魔和推进，以2轮的第一次在什么似乎是永远的。 幸运的是圣何塞，他们管理没有太多的进球，以促进他们的三巨头（马尔，希特利和桑顿）。 他们一定会需要的改变，如果他们想击败红翼的希望。 再次，我们可以谈论X和O的通宵达旦，但是当它发生的时候我只是不能接反底特律。 每年，好像他们是由和未来的西部联盟球队成熟采摘和底特律总是证明每个人都错了。 所以我挑选底特律摘下圣何塞。
两支球队逃过什么样子会是第一轮的冷门由第三个时期的回击。 我们是幸运的，他们并没有因为去年的争夺战中两队之间的同一轮是必须看电视，今年将有可能更好。 两支球队都是伟大的锋线与凯恩和公司为芝加哥和SEDIN双胞胎和船员温哥华。 将有进攻机会嘉豪两支球队，所以你有什么期待在比赛中，像吗？ 当然，目标抚育。 坦率地说，芝加哥的netminding一直如此糟糕，他们已经在该类别中处于不利地位; 现在的事实补充说，他们会在另一端作战罗伯托的Luongo，它是在老鹰队就更麻烦了。 但在去年，他们能够得到的Luongo，他们肯定能做到这一点，今年再次。 所有的老鹰队需要他们的守门员是要充分发挥他们会处理其余部分。 我拿起芝加哥赢得了整个事情在今年年初，我不会退缩，现在...芝加哥获胜。
雅罗斯拉夫·哈拉的关键是这个系列。 哈拉所有需要做的就是保持华盛顿在海湾，如果他能设法做到这一点的加拿大人将得到充足的得分对抗华盛顿的瑞士奶酪防守的机会。 两件事情，我们肯定知道：蒙特利尔不能阻止进球华盛顿和华盛顿不能阻止进球蒙特利尔。 正如我所提到的头号重点是哈拉，而且它是非常重要的蒙特利尔发挥得非常好纪律曲棍球每场比赛的每一分钟。 技术失误将作出这只是比赛的性质而做出错误的决定（传球不好，懒散冰球的追求，等等），并采取惩罚坏的将是蒙特利尔的季后赛生命的尽头。 华盛顿有足够的人才来克服错误就会使和缺乏足够的防御和点状干扰球，但蒙特利尔没有。 很多人认为华盛顿是成熟采摘 - 这可能是真实的，但如果蒙特利尔不会保留他们的错误率相比，华盛顿的非常低的资本会打击他们离开。 即使在蒙特利尔没有说拿一个糟糕的点球，他们不得不依靠的球员在他们的阵容季后赛经验拿别人与他们的盒子，一点一滴的事项。 如果蒙特利尔可以做这些事情，他们就赢了; 但说我走的是资本在五人。
费城将赢得这个系列赛。 它有什么与飞行物的能力和更多地与新泽西的不足之处。 鬼子太依赖先得分，然后用中性区的陷阱和马蒂·布罗德扼杀了其他球队。 新泽西不会总是首先得分，并有导致保护，也没有要回来被倒2个或更多的目标应该费城获得了遥遥领先的能力。 这不是1995年了，新的非霍奇金淋巴瘤，不利于新泽西州的系统产生季后赛的成功有很大的量。 他们还放了众所周知的墙的伊利亚·科瓦利丘克他们最大的得分威胁面前。 每场比赛将很可能是因为魔怎么打接近，但它是费城的系列取胜。
克罗斯比已经热的晚，但包括两场对阵纽约岛民谁拥有一个非常小的防御，而导致一吨的射门机会，许多目标。 企鹅有过困难时期，从得分阻止球队的同时，也没有最大的得分实力本身（授予Gonchar和马尔金受到伤害，这样应该确保自己了）。 有人说，企鹅只是需要去进入季后赛，现在的时机已经到来，他们会更主动地得到他们的共同行动，建立在过去几年的经验，去要回在至少在分区决赛。 但是，我认为渥太华参议员可能有话要说的。 参议员已经在发布会过去一个月本赛季最好的球队之一，并正在发挥令人难以置信和单位。 失去亚历克斯·科瓦廖夫将是一个挫折，渥太华，但他们仍然有丹尼尔Alredsson，杰森Spezza和迈克费舍尔所以他们不会向往的得分呈现在冰面上。 他们的防守队员都是相当大的，这样将匹配，相对较好的企鹅“从上线到底部。 射门机会，需要对企鹅对渥太华更多的工作比它与岛民。 也许是渥太华最大的败笔就是布莱恩·埃利奥特缺乏季后赛经验。 而重要的经验在所有位置，除非你肯·德莱顿或帕特里克·罗伊它是守门员最重要的。 不过，有多大的企鹅一直在玩（不一致），他们是成熟的不安，我觉得渥太华参议员将做到这一点。
是技术分析中我怎么觉得这个比赛了会去也许是在浪费时间。 圣何塞一直在这里一次又一次和科罗拉多州是一个长队已经超额完成整个赛季。 我认为，在美国科罗拉多州的时间会很不错，但它只是没有在卡为他们今年。 圣何塞有更多的经验，是一个整体更好的球队，而根本不会输于科罗拉多州。 圣何塞采用此系列。
有纳什维尔在季后赛总是好的，因为无论有助于非传统市场曲棍球成长是游戏和联赛是一件好事。 纳什维尔曾来过这里，但并没有成功地闯过了第一轮（不丢人的，既然他们已经在其短暂的历史中扮演底特律在季后赛的每一个外观）。 是什么给了纳什维尔在这一系列成功的最佳机会，他们不依赖任何一个人提供他们所有的罪行。 史蒂夫·沙利文，帕特里克Hornqvist，马丁ERAT，杰森阿诺特，JP杜蒙和谢伊·韦伯都有这是一个非常积极的迹象，因为芝加哥不能单纯着眼于一个人在保持Preds在海湾的希望超过40点的季节。 纳什维尔的问题是，上赛季他们放弃了尽可能多的目标，他们取得了这并不是一个好兆头玩帕特里克·凯恩，乔纳森托斯，帕特里克·夏普和共同的喜欢的时候。 在四中七一个最好的系列。 虽然我为根曲棍球成功在纳什维尔的游戏的好，我认为芝加哥将是太多的Preds，并会搬过去纳什维尔的道路上的决赛，因为我预测，在赛季的开幕。
这是伟大的看到洛杉矶国王队重回季后赛。 我一直在说，因为休赛期，这个团队是真正的，他们肯定没有辜负整个赛季都在这里，他们是在季后赛。 安泽Kopitar已经非常显着全年和乔纳森快速已经在网线对线稳固。 我说，这一年开始之前，不仅将国王队杀入季后赛，但他们也将赢得他们的第一轮系列赛，我不会从那个退缩。 不幸的是，国王（对我来说），他们要上去攻击曲棍球全年，即SEDIN双胞胎与亚历克斯挖洞，有时瑞安凯斯勒说是最好的路线。 哦，那罗伯托的Luongo家伙是不是半坏的。 很多人认为这是今年温哥华克服他们所面临的过去，终于来到了西部。 我会违背我的头在采摘这一个，说国王将采取系列，但他们更倚重罗布史古德利杯获胜的经验，从一年前，因为他们会需要它。
可怜的凤凰。 词干回休赛期的所有权问题，不知道他们在那里今年将发挥在赛季开始前，甚至在那里他们将在明年还没有最后确定。 尽管所有的球员团结在一起，而不是只得到自己进入了季后赛，但家里的冰在第一轮，巨大的右！？ 错了。 所有的辛勤工作得到他们的打底特律红翼队在第一轮的奖励，什么奖励为一个伟大的赛季吧？ 我们可以打破的巅峰对决，直到母牛回家，但是这将是愚蠢的我挑对阵活塞。 我希望凤凰给了底特律的一个伟大的斗争，甚至设法击败他们，但是那是不可能的，这就是为什么我给这个系列的红翼。
这是可能的，一旦幼苗都设置波士顿和新泽西州可以匹配，对抗彼此在第一轮; 上帝帮助我们所有的，如果他们这样做。 这将是最有趣的季后赛系列赛的所有时间之一。 这引出了一个问题，这将是更令人兴奋，看着熊和恶魔广场关闭或看油漆干燥？ 这是一个艰难的决定实在。 两支球队可以管理得分很多时候甚至创造了一大堆镜头上的目标。 在周二晚上，在两队“惊心动魄”加时赛1-0胜波士顿花了几乎整整65分钟新泽西鼓起21张的目标，同时波士顿提出了一个更体面的34投-所有功能于所有的制作一个可怕的曲棍球比赛。 如果不是为帕特里斯伯杰龙得分比赛优胜者在一段时间内人们可以作出的论点，有只有两颗星给了守门员和第三的球迷居然坚持周围看热闹的事情。 我所有关于防守，因为你肯定赢不了，没有它，我不要求每场比赛结束5-4，但至少有一些持续的进攻压力将是很好的。 所以，无论你欢呼祈祷谁在曲棍球神的魔熊和避开对方在第一轮，而在季后赛的其余完全与此有关。 曲棍球球迷理智到处都是依赖于它。
昨晚，匹兹堡企鹅是在检查由新泽西恶魔谁现在已经风靡本季系列的每一次对企鹅6-0和果断地举行又一次。 一队独霸的另一个像这样的情况并不罕见，但在这种情况下，不同的是，企鹅一直以来在全年联赛中最好的球队之一，尽管失去了每场比赛甚至还在争取为师冠新泽西州对付他们。 这不是很经常可以看到一队由另一支球队获得主导，但仍然如此高的排名。 那么，这是否意味着季后赛？ 坦率地说，只要两支球队让（他们肯定会），这并不意味着一大堆他们应该相匹配，与彼此，直到第一场比赛中出场。 如果匹兹堡能设法赢得第一个最佳的-7系列与新泽西州，然后在石板基本上消灭干净。 但是，如果新泽西州击败匹兹堡和驾驭他们以同样的方式，他们有全年然后新泽西会影响到企鹅队这么多，该系列将主要是在它甚至被启动之前的信心。 有没有真正的没头没脑的恶魔“的优势在企鹅它简直是新泽西州打他们的系统和稳健的企鹅让太多的机会，没有创造足够的自己的事。 我们会看到这里发生了什么，但如果不出意外这一系列的胜利应该给新泽西州一吨的信心拉伸运行继续和过渡进入季后赛。
对于你西部球迷，不看，但现在的底特律红翼队是在黄金位置晋级季后赛再次。 截至目前红翼有一分的优势超过900 个地点卡尔加里配有一个游戏在手，战胜每一个他们已经打了近两年时间的火焰。 无论常规赛如何去底特律，他们似乎总是弄死他们表现出一年四季的任何弱点，并恢复到最佳状态时，四月来临时。 底特律也越来越健康，所以可能性，他们会挣扎向下伸展，以减少他们回去的每个球员。 如果他们进入季后赛，这很可能是因为7 日或8 日的种子; 什么奖谁上台废除了会议常规赛冠军的球队。 你工作了一年，把自己在可能的最佳位置，你有第一轮的比赛，对抗两个卫冕冠军的会议奖励。 有没有像一个日期与弗伦岑，Zetterberg，Lidstrom，秋克等，以及他们所有的斯坦利杯戒指作为话说声称的最高点在会议中的一个祝贺的方式。 尽管这个赛季已经为底特律，如果他们在你要盯住他们作为夺冠热门出来向西之一。
Lastly, what were the Chicago Blackhawks thinking at the trade deadline? In large point their team is solid and needs no adjusting in order to sure up what should be a run to the Stanley Cup Finals (that is a reasonable goal at least). But one area that absolutely needed addressing was goaltending. No disrespect to Huet and Niemi but they are not ready to lead a team to the promised land. Neither has any playoff experience of note and while you can only get experience by actually playing, when the rest of the team is ready to make a strong push that is NOT the time for your netminder to get his feet wet. Kane, Keith, Sharp, Toews, Hossa, Byfuglien, Versteeg, Campbell (pre-injury), etc. are all poised to improve on last year's run to the conference finals by taking their respective games' to the next level and the last thing they need is goaltending to bring them down. Going after someone like Manny Legace who has some experience, or even JS Giguere who despite falling out of favor in Anaheim has a decent track record and perhaps a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered for him. Either choice would have been worth at least trying because neither could do any worse than Niemi and Huet have been of late. In two Sundays in a row both Huet and Niemi have given up a plethora of goals in very short order causing their team to blow 2 and three goal leads respectively, blown leads Chicago was unable to rebound from both times. Sure that could happen to anybody on a given day, but twice in 7 days is unacceptable and it does not bode very well for Chicago this season if they play even close to that poorly in the playoffs.
Less than one month to go until playoff time!
虽然所有的脱冰的动作（“大交易”），是由有几支球队做冰的一些大举措。 最近这些推的最好是华盛顿首都谁是目前在裸奔了10场比赛，并计数，而温哥华加人队已经连续赢得了七人。 这两种条纹是相当令人印象深刻的，当然，但我既不连胜真的那么大不了的意见。 首先在首都华盛顿一直沿着这条道路前。 与其说中奖10直的，但他们已经忍受了大的数字被打进一吨的目标，并通过他们的分裂steamrolling同时还配置了一些相当不错的非分区的对手也是如此。 华盛顿的问题今天仍然一样，因为它是在两年前，这是一个缺乏防守。 好像几乎每个人都对自己的球队能够进球，但是当它涉及到一个最佳的七大系列产品，你不能简单地得分超过其他球队7-5每场比赛最终你将不得不从得分阻止优秀的球队。 它本质上是华盛顿，即自锁定新泽西能保持从得分在常规赛的人，并堆放点，但季后赛到来时，他们不能得分不够而失去反向新泽西州的问题; 而华盛顿可以得分超过任何人在常规赛，但季后赛到来时，他们无法阻止任何人，被淘汰了。 首都已建成，预计将在季后赛赢球，又提前一轮退出将不会与前端办公还是球迷削减它，但直到他们开始防守这正是会发生什么。
温哥华加人队在一个位的华盛顿不同的情况。 温哥华的问题是，在过去他们一直依赖于这么多的Luongo，谁执行令人钦佩的所有赛季曾经在季后赛临近时，他往往会打破，他们根本没有罪将他保释出来。在路上经常捞出出来。 因此，在目前的温哥华连胜无非是一个挑逗的历史表明，他们将依靠的Luongo太多再次和不迟于第二轮淘汰。 在X因子为温哥华然而（某物华盛顿不必）是亚历挖洞的与所述SEDIN双胞胎的同一行的出现。 我们都知道SEDIN双胞胎可以得分的，谁知道亚历克斯·伯罗斯会发展成这样的得分威胁自己？ 如果亚历克斯·伯罗斯扮演这种方式在赛季后和Ryan凯斯勒可以了他的比赛，只是有点温哥华加人队，你看到的流失七连胜，现在可能是吊斯坦利杯六月份同一支球队。
非霍奇金淋巴瘤的两个最大的明星了冰相互对抗的，因为一年前他们的经典东部半决赛的第一次。 我说的是西德尼·克罗斯比的进程和企鹅对亚历奥维金及首都华盛顿的。 这是联盟最大的两个明星，不仅对决也是两人在曲棍球上最好的球队，但。 本场比赛是一个非常有趣的比赛，最终看到了华盛顿匹兹堡关在第三阶段采取比赛6-3，但比赛本身是没有故事情节。 不幸的是，更大的问题是，本场比赛没有电视上的电源插座，人们全国各地能看到。 当然这是正在播出的非霍奇金淋巴瘤的网络上，但谁的人有渠道的数量，不仅在纯数字的限制，但也只限于人谁已经爱上这个游戏。 这个游戏需要的是在该会达到最高的人数可能，虽然平日的游戏不会在NBC和我接受这一点，仍然可能是在对战一站。 诚然，非霍奇金淋巴瘤没有最好的电视合同，但他们甚至没有最大化的交易，他们确实有潜力。 曲棍球是一个梦幻般的运动，但我这样的人不需要被说服了这一点，它的散风扇谁调整到去年的季后赛系列赛谁需要看到的游戏的最好的球员一个展示今年再次以接近比赛吸引他们; 但是，机会是他们没有看到比赛，因为因果球迷可能不具备NHL网络。 与之形成鲜明对比的这种在同一个晚上在NBA是秀套管2的勒布朗 - 詹姆斯和科比 - 布莱恩特在TNT的最大的明星很多更多的人有机会获得。 这简直是对NBA做营销比非霍奇金淋巴瘤的一个更好的工作的例子。 我最起码意见NHL有一个产品，这是NBA的字段，每天晚上它的更好的营销只是在NBA的一部分的问题是一样好。 如果NHL想保持游戏的增长，简单地采取了伟大的产品，给群众（谁无疑会喜欢他们所看到的），那么他们必须要注意的细节; 否则联赛将继续走了一步和两步后退，当涉及到扩大其知名度在美国。
在冰上的新闻埃德蒙顿油工都没有最好的一年。 有很多原因，埃德蒙顿一直在努力，但也有毫无疑问，没有人失去了更多的撕心裂肺比油工。 对上周五晚上在达拉斯星埃德蒙顿的对决就是这样一个令人心碎的损失的完美典范。 只需一分多钟走下来一个目标油工拉着他们的守门员赞成第六攻击者和1时02分左在时钟两队战成3。 队员们兴高采烈，球迷们激动，它看上去像埃德蒙顿打算，至少从他们的西部对手偷了点。 然而，甚至没有一分钟后心痛来袭埃德蒙顿再次为詹姆斯·尼尔猛敲家里只有23秒的反弹后把小牛向前为好。 说你想了解的方式埃德蒙顿失去什么，以及如何，他们已经失去了本赛季的所有比赛一样，但一个晚上就好像每个人都在埃德蒙顿就有理由庆祝了勇敢复出，而不是最后的第二次失败，但它...是不是命中注定的。 在任何情况下感觉不好的专业运动员很辛苦，但在这种情况下，我觉得不好的油工组织和他们的球迷，他们可以买一个的胜利？
最后我将是失职，如果我没有提到的暴发户纽约岛民都具有成功的令人难以置信的大量。 上个赛季，这是一个最差的球队在冰上联盟，并与一吨风暴落冰在处理关于其未来的长岛。 尽管持续关冰问题的岛民都相当赛季放在一起在冰面上，并在黄金位置进入季后赛。 信用可以去的家伙像约翰·塔瓦雷斯谁被选中的头号整个过去的这个休赛期，或隐藏的宝石像马特Moulson谁已经超出了所有人的预期。 另外还有netminder德韦恩Roloson恒星打谁，尽管他的年龄已经表现得非常令人钦佩的整个赛季。 不管答案是什么，岛民已经把一个团队，努力工作每一场比赛，将继续得到更好的随着赛季的推移，用自己的工作热情结合自己的技能，也许是偷游戏，他们不应该以其他方式取得胜利。 偷一个双赢时不时就必然会发生任何年轻打败的球队。 在不过岛民击败这样的强队新泽西州和底特律在极短的很有说服力的方式的情况下（已关闭两队出）不是偶然的。 你不战胜顶级球队比赛，但他们关闭了，除非你是好的，相信它还是不是人，纽约岛民是一支优秀的球队。 我去年所说，早在本赛季，我在这支球队战斗的夜晚喜闻乐见的方式和夜间出来，它终于开始得到回报他们。 这有可能是岛民仍功亏一篑季后赛，今年，但如果他们继续玩的方式，他们是球队将没有什么可羞愧的，并有一些伟大的事情建立在为下个赛季。 已经有很多感觉好故事的球队，本赛季，但没有比这纽约岛民队更好谁是看似超出预期迄今。 如果你看他们在任何一个晚上检查出来的机会，这是一个很大的乐趣。
Do not be fooled by the success of the New Jersey Devils through the first 34 games of the season. Granted, they are in first place in the East (with a tie-breaker over the Pittsburgh Penguins) but it is not an indication of things to come for New Jersey come playoff time. One must give them credit where credit is due because they are in fact in first place and Martin Bordeur is being his amazing self winning game after game with the incredible play of the likes of Zach Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner, Travis Zajac, and Brian Rolston in front of him. Despite their stellar play—as indicated by their record—the problems for New Jersey in recent years have started in the playoffs and quite frankly this season will be no different. From a logistical point of view the rule changes coming out of the lockout have hurt the Devils' style of play greatly since they benefitted greatly from the clutching and grabbing that was a major target of the rule changes. In that sense, it makes it much harder for the Devils to win games because it puts more pressure on them to score more often than to try to protect a one goal lead they might have settled on doing in the past. Not only that but from the perspective of something more intangible is the fact that now teams not only have a bit of a tactical advantage over New Jersey that was lacking in the past but they also have greater hope.
There is no doubt that the Devils talent level is amongst the best in the league but when lesser teams faceoff against them come playoff time New Jersey's style of play does not squash any hopes that a lesser team can beat them. Instead, by trying to protect small leads, the other teams start to believe they can actually beat New Jersey. As a result such teams grow in confidence yielding better on ice play and ultimately the elimination of New Jersey from the playoffs. Last year is a great example of that; all due respect to Carolina they were not on the same level talent wise as New Jersey but for the entire series they were able to just keep hanging around until eventually Carolina ousted the Devils from the playoffs. In contrast to that—after Carolina got by Boston under similar circumstances—when Carolina went to play a highly talented Penguin team that could score Carolina was completely outmatched and swept out of the playoffs. Until New Jersey can figure out a way to put teams away in the post-season by crushing their will a cycle of early round exits will continue indefinitely with this year being no exception.
以3-1险胜昨晚阿纳海姆鸭子新泽西恶魔现在赢得了六连胜，并发现自己的大西洋赛区排挤千疮百孔匹兹堡企鹅队的伤病上面。 这是什么使魔唯一的胜机生产; 在休赛期他们失去了布莱恩Gionta和长时间稳定约翰·麦登，但胜利仍继续堆积。 说你对中立区的陷阱，它的枯燥，unentertaining等，底线是什么，它的工作原理并没有什么比看着你的球队赢更多的娱乐性。 让我们不要自欺欺人，鬼子阵容不完整的哑弹，帕特里克·埃利亚斯，杰米蓝根博，当然还有马丁·布罗德是大时代的球员。 然而，对于大多数球队失去玩家新泽西具有在过去的几年里就不会结束很好。 尽管损失（包括布罗德最怀念去年与伤害）恶魔的玩家继续购买到系统中被传给他们，这会导致双赢后，最终进入季后赛。 诚然，在过去的几年中成功在季后赛中已经很难得的新泽西州，但作为在一个位置，成功就是你可以要求走出常规赛，因为一旦季后赛开始，你永远不知道会发生什么。
For starters let me take a moment to point out the upcoming Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Congrats to this year's inductees (Brett Hull, Brian Leech, Luc Robitaille, Steve Yzerman, and Lou Lamoriello) because reaching such a goal requires a lot of hard work and dedication for many years so these guys are to be congratulated. I grew up watching these guys play the game and it is their play that made me love it so much especially Brian Leech; being an American born player I felt like I could identify with him moreso than the others. Also, love him or hate him one must give credit to Lou Lamoriello for building some of the greatest teams of the last 15 years. Lamoriello is a bit erratic but the man wins plain and simple so although I am not and never will be a Devils fan I tip my cap to Mr. Lamoriello.
说起新泽西恶魔的存在在很多谈话一年又一年约搬出自己温暖的天气城市的郊狼，鸫鸟，黑豹等的喜好和回北上到曲棍球是更相关。 这些参数都至少有一定的正确性他们，而是说为什么我们没有听到有关新泽西魔鬼一样的东西？ 当然新泽西州是非常成功的在过去15年左右的时间，但尽管他们的出席人数是可怕的。 几乎在任何一个时间可以观看红魔“主场比赛，看到吨的空座位，他们有一个非常艰难的时间销售出去，甚至季后赛。 这可能是过饱和与流浪者队，三岛和传单都以自己的一份市场远离恶魔，但不管理由的数字是不会说谎的问题。 在很多温暖的天气城市的球队都经历了不太成功，但是当他们的球迷一直在那里（坦帕于2004年，佛罗里达州，1996年是精确的），但新泽西州赢得所有的时间，但空座位是一个老大难问题。 因此，尽管它可能看起来像一个愚蠢的想法，当你第一次听到它，新的建筑或不为什么不考虑搬迁新泽西恶魔的地方，他们会理解的地方？
As the hour draws closer and the puckheads continue to salivate over the tease that is the hockey preseason it is time to supplement the appetizers before the hockey fest begins.
Eastern Conference Preview:
I'll start by predicting who I think will make it to the playoffs (in no particular order) then we'll look at least briefly at where each team stands. So here are the top eight teams in no particular order:
Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers (Carolina Hurricanes?), New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, and the Washington Capitals.
The Pittsburgh Penguins should probably be the favorites going into the season because their team is a lot the same and they are the champs until someone else wins the title. They did lose Rob Scuderi but overall you have to like their chances to defend their conference title.
The New York Rangers lost Scott Gomez but have added Marian Gaborik who—if he can stay healthy—will add scoring power to a pretty solid but not spectacular line-up. The nice thing about the Rangers is that even if they do not score a ton of goals Henrik Lundqvist will keep them in most games, will steal a few, and will overall give them a chance to win most every contest they are involved in. Having a chance to win every game is not actually winning them however and that's where Gaborik is going to be important for them. If Gaborik stays healthy he scores enough goals to get them enough points to get them into the playoffs. In the event that Gaborik does get hurt that will leave New York on the outside looking in and will open the door for the Carolina Hurricanes to sneak into a playoff spot. Carolina too is a solid team but Cam Ward cannot do it alone and they will not be able to rely on Jussi Jokkinen to play all year the way he did in the playoffs. But if any team should fall off at all (ie the Rangers) that opens the door for the Canes. Either way, neither team will be a serious Stanley Cup contender.
蒙特利尔加拿大人做了三个非常好的东西，在休赛期：让科瓦廖夫去，拿起布赖恩Gionta和斯科特·戈麦斯，并摆脱了科瓦廖夫的（我提到的话）。 阿列克谢·科瓦廖夫是一个很有天赋的球员，但他太不一致，在创建足够的戏剧本身就是一个地方引起太多的戏剧。 Gionta和戈麦斯提供稳定，在冰面上的领导人，可以把记分牌上的点。 这两名球员花费的时间在新泽西所以每个知道如何发挥作用，完善。 只要凯里价格可以保持他的信心和球迷给这支球队一个机会，他们可以是非常危险的。
至于会议的其他很少有说不完的话。 纽约岛民明确重建所以最好的人希望能够从他们的是，约翰·塔瓦雷斯和公司刚刚从提高游戏的游戏。 据我估计岛上居民有更多的问题，落冰（在营业结束）比他们做的就可以了。 海岛知道他们正在重建，并正在采取措施努力成为一个优秀的团队在时间上。 这是相对于闪电，鸫鸟，参议员，枫叶，和黑豹。
坦帕拥有大量的人才，但什么也没做是与去年没有一个守门员，可以把他们的任何地方。 亚特兰大只是普通的不好，可能不会提高很多在所有的可能性。 渥太华不断变化的教练，不凝胶作为一个团队，已经失去了他们最好的球员达尼·希特利之一，并决定加入科瓦廖夫是稳定/改善他们的球队（很愚蠢）的最佳方式。 多伦多不能决定他们是否想尝试，现在赢或建设未来。 去年，他们有足够的人才留在非季后赛球队全年大部分时间的顶部而今年他们都在大约相同的位置。 最后是佛罗里达豹谁没有一大堆的人才（有遗失bouwmeester后），并没有得到多少球迷支持，这是个非常糟糕的情况。
After a shocking and disappointing first round exit at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes the New Jersey Devils were searching for a coach after Brent Sutter resigned. New Jersey's search has come to an end and the name will be familiar to Devils fans everywhere as Jacques Lemaire was rehired after first leaving the team in 1998. Lemaire was there for the beginning of the New Jersey glory days leading them to their first Stanley Cup title in 1995 which came about by perfecting the neutral zone trap which in a lot of ways contributed to the changes in the rules since the NHL's return from the lockout of 2004-05. Although New Jersey later won to Cups without Lemaire (2000 and 2003) they have not returned to the winner circle since then despite a fair amount of regular season success.
I think it is unlikely that Jacques Lemaire will be able to push New Jersey back over the top because of how much the game has changed. Although the neutral zone trap is still an effective strategy to winning a lot of games in order to win a championship you need a balance of great defense and scoring. With the changes made to the game allowing it to open up more (less clutching and grabbing) it hinders part of what yielded the immense success of the Devils in the mid 1990s and pre-lockout portion of the new millennium. Having a goaltender like Martin Brodeur certainly makes up for a lot of shortcomings but it only pushes New Jersey so far in the right direction but not quite over the top. The Devils have not made any big ticket off-season acquisitions and if they want to contend for the Stanley Cup they will probably need to get another big scorer to go along with Zach Parise's 45 goals and 94 overall points. Other players like Patrick Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner are very good players but they are not top scoring forwards and in my judgment unless one of those guys steps up or the Devils get another big-time scorer, Jacques Lemaire will not be able to push New Jersey over the top.
We are in the middle of the Stanley Cup Finals and that has captured the attention of the hockey world (including sportsroids.com) and rightfully so. But for the moment, with an extra day off before game seven, let's focus our attention elsewhere to look at some other off-ice news.
Brent Sutter has resigned as head coach of the New Jersey Devils after only two seasons. The reasons he gave for stepping down revolve around the fact that his family is located 3,000 miles away in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. A number of people have criticized him for leaving “too early” but I am not one of them. A lot of times people will leave a job citing family reasons just to take another job somewhere else and it turns out they were basically hiding from the fact that they simply wanted to leave their job. Sutter has not done that, he is going home to his family and while he may find himself work once he gets there he is doing it to be with them. There is a lot of money floating around that distracts plenty of people from the folks important to them no matter how much money they may already have in the bank—not to mention the fact that the Devils will put a very good team on the ice next season. So I applaud Sutter for this decision because so many times people throw away their families in the pursuit of the next big challenge in whatever sport or business the person is involved in. Good for him and the example he is setting for everyone associated with him. And once he does get back into the game I'll certainly be pulling for him no matter where he ends up.
ps game seven predictions coming soon…
The Eastern Conference Finals start tomorrow night between the defending Eastern Conference Champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the last team to win the Stanley Cup out of the east in the Carolina Hurricanes. These two teams may not have the natural rivalry Pittsburgh had with Washington but there is plenty to keep us entertained. Most notably is the sibling rivalry that puts Eric Staal (Carolina) against brother Jordan Staal (Pittsburgh) for the first time in the playoffs. While there no doubt the utmost respect between the brothers anyone who has a sibling knows that there's nothing like beating a sibling and claiming bragging rights in the family. There is also the Pittsburgh connection that Hurricanes assistant coach Ron Francis has as he won two Stanley Cup titles with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992. But the best motivation for each team is the fact that this series is for a chance to play for the Stanley Cup! No professional hockey player needs any more motivation than that. So let's take a look at each team, their respective keys to victory and my prediction of how this series will turn out. [After going 4-4 in round one the sportsroids.com predictions are now at 7-5 and looking to improve!]
The Carolina Hurricanes are only three years removed from hoisting the Stanley Cup and still have a number of members from the 2006 team on the 2009 version which is an invaluable asset. The most important of that group is Conn Smythe winning goaltender Cam Ward. Ward has been the key to Carolina's success all year long; he has been the reason they qualified for the playoffs and why they were able to advance past both New Jersey and Boston, two teams who many had going to the Finals. In order for Carolina to have any chance of defeating Pittsburgh Cam Ward must be top-notch. Carolina simply does not have the fire power to outmuscle Pittsburgh in an offensive shootout so it is imperative that Cam Ward shuts them down. Aside from Ward the Hurricanes will have to make use of their speed and grit to be victorious. The Canes do not have a whole lot of size so they will have to use their speed to create scoring chances and make sure they get optimal scoring performance from Eric Staal and Jussi Jokinen just as they have thus far in these playoffs. Carolina will also need to use their speed to be gritty down low in both zones and be the first to loose pucks in the neutral zone and in the defensive zone. But even if Carolina does all that if Cam Ward isn't almost perfect they still won't win.
The key for Pittsburgh? Surprise Surprise, it's get to Cam Ward! We know the star power that exists on the Penguins and their ability to get secondary scoring from people all over the line-up. Generally speaking the Penguins simply need to keep playing the way they've been playing throughout the playoffs and also need to have Fleury return to the form he was in against the Philadelphia Flyers. One can talk about strategy from the Penguins' prospective all day long but the bottom line is they need to get to Cam Ward. If Pittsburgh makes Cam Ward look human they will advance in the series with little trouble; if they don't the series will go a long way, Pittsburgh will start to get frustrated and before you know it Carolina will be headed to the Stanley Cup Finals. Despite all that, barring major injury, I don't think Carolina matches up well with Pittsburgh and although the games will be very close it will be Pittsburgh advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals defeating Carolina in five games. And so for the second it will be the Pittsburgh Penguins taking on the Detroit Red Wings for the right to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.
Round one could not have gone out on a better note with two game seven's ( Devils-Hurricanes and Caps-Rangers ) that did not disappoint in drama and excitement. I couldn't possibly say anything to sum the two games that are surely both instant classics; as a result we'll just turn to round two now that we know the match-ups. So far the sportsroids predictions have yielded a 4-4 record which I'll be looking to improve upon in round two.
1. Boston Bruins vs. 6. Carolina Hurricanes
The Bruins breezed through the first round sweeping the hated rival Canadiens right out of the playoffs. Despite picking Montreal to win (in the interest of not flip-flopping from my preseason Eastern Conference Champ) I had serious doubts about their performance down the stretch and how they would fair in the playoffs and sure enough they laid an egg. Although Boston swept the series the lame duck Canadiens probably would have made any team look like juggernauts. Nevertheless, the Bruins are very well rested and do have a lot of fire power, enough to have swept the season series from the Hurricanes anyway (not to mention the top seed in the East). So far Tim Thomas has continued his stellar play despite the doubts surrounding his style of play and his lack of consistent success in his career before this year. In front of Thomas are the likes of Zdano Chara who has been unbelievable for the Bruins all year and it continued in round one. Pair Chara's dominance at the blue line with a very strong core of forwards and the Bruins have all the makings of what could be a very special playoff run.
Opposite the Bruins are the Carolina Hurricanes who are very much a different team today from the one Boston saw in the regular season. 瑞安 Whitney, Chad LaRose, and Eric Staal have played incredibly well thus far in the post-season each with at least five points against the best goalie in the game today in Martin Brodeur. The Canes also have a world class netminer of their own in Cam Ward who came up huge for them all season and certainly in the playoffs keeping them in game seven in particular. This team has a lot going for it on the ice with their talent but also their experience with key members from their Stanley Cup winning team of a few years ago still around. So what can we expect from this series? Well the goaltending for both will most likely be stellar but beyond that the comparisons end. Boston is more of a big bruiser type club that loves to slug it out and play a hard hitting, defensive type game. Whereas the Canes are a smaller, quicker club who will generate a lot of offense and as a result rely heavily on Ward defensively. Carolina is on an emotional high at the moment by they just finished a grueling back-and-forth seven games with New Jersey. The Canes experience will keep them in the series but the Bruins will simply out class the Canes and send them packing in six.
3. Washington Capitals vs. 4. Pittsburgh Penguins
From one rivalry to another for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they plan to travel to Washington not long after deposing of the much hated Philadelphia Flyers in six. This is certainly the dream match-up for hardcore and casual hockey fans alike with both teams possessing an enormous amount of talent—namely Malkin and Crosby for Pittsburgh and Ovechkin and Semin for Washington among many others for both. So what can we expect from this series? Well the Caps took the season series from the Penguins 3-1 but three of the four contests were very close and filled with lots of intensity. The spotlight will certainly be on the Ovechkin/Crosby rivalry but those two alone will not determine the series. Both teams are going to need to get a lot out of their third and fourth lines as well as goaltenders. The top players for both teams will in all likelihood neutralize one another as they match up pretty well player for player both up front and on the blueline. So we turn to the third liners and it's the Penguins who have the advantage in that regard as they are the deeper team by far. Guys like Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Staal create a lot of energy for the Penguins as third liners and have been known to generate a lot of offensive zone action and that Caps simply don't have an answer for them. Washington had the advantage in the “toughness”category before Donald Brashear was suspended for six games and will not be able to play for Washington until game six of this series if there is one. There will certainly be a lot of up and down play in this series with a lot of passion coming from both teams and their fans. The buildings will be rocking, the media will be buzzing, and the tension/excitement amongst all parties involved should make this one of the best series of the playoffs. In the end the Penguins depth advantage will lead them to a six game series victory over the high flying Capitals.
Tune in next time (Thursday) for a preview of the Western Conference Semis.
I know the networks in the US want to sell the stars—ie Crosby, Ovechkin—to increase ratings but sometimes you have to be confident in the product on the ice no matter who is playing. I am referring to the fact that only ONE game of the New Jersey-Carolina series (of the six played so far) has been on national TV and it has been the most competitive series in the east's first round. Two games went to overtime with each team winning the contest in the other's house. Another game ended on a last second shot vaulting the Canes to a 4-3 win with only 0.2 seconds remaining on the clock. Martin Brodeur and Cam Ward have been phenomenal all series long and even managed to make a 1-0 game one of the most exciting contests any sports fan would ever want to see. Granted, not every game can be broadcast nationally but it would be a lot easier if NBC were to step up and televise games on weekdays! *gasp* Either way it's a shame that such good hockey has gone unnoticed by a lot of hockey fans both serious and casual because it simply hasn't been on TV unless you have the center ice package. Stop with all the gimmicks and use a little common sense, no matter who is invovled in a particular contest if the quality of the game play is high you better believe people will flock to their television sets. So NBC stop bullying hockey around like it's the little brother of pro sports and realize it is back and better than ever… if you show the games people WILL watch!
What an incredible night for Marc-Andre Fleury in Philadelphia as he helped the Pittsburgh Penguins get a strangle hold on that series. Not to be outdone however where the Canes and Devils who played a game that had quite an ending Tuesday night and that's where we'll start.
Coming into Tuesday's game the Devils and Canes had traded overtime wins on the other team's home ice and despite New Jersey's dominating game one performance this looks like it can be quite a series. Carolina came out of the gates blazing building a 3-0 lead that was kept from getting worse by Martin Brodeur's stellar play. The Devils were dominated for 39 minutes 30 seconds until Brian Gionta netted New Jersey's first goal as the second period came to a close ripping the momentum from Carolina's grasp. In the first nine minutes of the third period the Devils road the momentum into the net twice more to tie the game at three and looked to have taken control of game four. As the third period came to a close the contest looked destined for overtime where by all accounts the Devils would have held a marked advantage; NOT SO FAST! With time winding down in the third the Canes blast a shot from the blue-line that clips a skate in front and gets by Brodeur with only .2 seconds remaining! The goal was one of the most incredible plays in playoff history and perhaps in all of hockey. Buzzer beaters are a common occurrence in basketball but certainly not in hockey. For those of us who were able to catch the game witnessed history in the making. There really is no such thing as a bad shot in the playoffs, just ask the Carolina Hurricanes. The series is now tied at two and the story will just keep getting better.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury was frustrating tens of thousands of Flyer fans by turning in one of the best performances of this young playoff season. After Crosby quieted the crowd by getting the Penguins on the board first Fleury did his part in keeping them silent for most of the rest of the game. Fleury was by far the best penalty killer for Pittsburgh who seemed to give the Flyers every chance in the world to allow Philly back into the game by taking Penalty after Penalty. But every chance Philly got was turned away by the absolute brilliance of Fleury. The final scored ended up being 3-1 Penguins but if not for Fleury the Penguins may very well have lost the game 5-3. Although he had some confidence issues this year the Penguins goaltender always seems to show up when the game is most important. Take note ladies and gentlemen because we may be witnessing the early stages of what could be a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate come early June. Pittsburgh now has a commanding 3-1 lead over the Flyers heading back to the Steel City for game five and a potential close out night. If the handshake line is indeed formed on Thursday night Flyers fans can address their complaints to Marc-Andre Fleury
Well the playoffs are now in full swing as every series will have played two games by the end of Saturday. So let's take a look and how the respective series are unfolding:
1. Boston Bruins VS 8.Montreal Canadiens
The final score of game one was about what everybody expected but the level of competition between the two clubs was probably higher than most thought. Boston roared out to a 2-0 lead but the Canadiens battled back to tie the game at two before ultimately going down 4-2. But the rivalry is hot and despite the perception of a major mismatch it doesn't seem likely to be over anytime soon. Game 2 is tonight before the series shifts back to Montreal so we'll see what surprises are in store for us.
2. Washington Capitals VS 7. New York Rangers
Jose Theodore didn't make it past the first game as he was benched for rookie back up netminder Simeon Varlamov after Washington's 4-3 loss at home to the Rangers. Again many people felt the Rangers were completely outmatch by the fire power of the Capitals and that the only chance the Rangers had offensively is if Theodore didn't play well. Theodore did not play all that well in game one and the Rangers stole one from Washington but surely things would be different now that Theodore was benched. Varlamov did indeed play very well in net for Washington Saturday afternoon as the Rangers were only able to net one behind the rookie netminder. Unfortunately for the Caps Henrik Lundqvist was up to the challenge and shut Ovechkin and company out. Now the series shifts back to New York with the Rangers having a commanding lead and looking for the sweep. Sportsroids when against the grain in predicting a Rangers win in this series and so far the Rangers have no disappointed.
3. New Jersey Devils VS Carolina Hurricanes
In a series that many felt would be evenly matched has surely turned out to be that way. After game one the Canes looked to be greatly overmatched; but after Carolina took game two in overtime we've got ourselves a series. The two teams are so similar in every aspect of the game and that makes the series a virtually toss up on paper. Sportsroids said Carolina in five and although that seems unlikely now we are sticking to our guns! Regardless of what happens there is a lot of great hockey ahead of us in this series.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins VS 5. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers seemed greatly outmatched after game one but game two was an entirely different story. Philly took the earlier lead but Pittsburgh battled back to tie. Then the Flyers took another lead only to see penalties allow the Penguins back into a game seemingly headed to the win column for the Flyers. But take nothing away from Pittsburgh, they dominated game one and although were largely outplayed in game two they took advantage of Flyer mistakes and now have a strangle-hold on the series. Don't expect the Flyers to quit though as they move home to play in front of their rowdy and very unforgiving fans at Wachovia center. Sportsroids told you this would go seven games, and although that is still possible if Pittsburgh wins either of the games in Philadelphia the Flyers will be in serious trouble. The Flyers won't fold but don't expect Pittsburgh to take their proverbial foot off the gas.
1. San Jose Sharks VS 8. Anaheim Ducks
People were wondering if the Sharks were finally ready to take it to the next level or if the same old Sharks would show up again in the playoffs. One game does not a series make but for at least one night it's the same old Sharks. Granted, the Ducks are not far removed from a Stanley Cup Championship but the Sharks at least need to score a goal. There is still a long way to go but if San Jose continues to play like they did in game one they will be making an early exit.
2. Detroit Red Wings VS 7.Columbus Blue Jackets
As I write this post the Red Wings are leading the Blue Jackets 3-0 at the second intermission, this after winning game one 4-1. The Blue Jackets have been a great story all season but the playoffs are too much for them and so they are done.
3. Vancouver Canucks VS 6. St. Louis Blues
The Blues were another good story going into the playoffs but after making a pretty good showing in game one they were completely shut down by Vancouver in game two losing 3-0. Like Columbus, St. Louis is an up and coming team with great goaltending but they appear to be severely overmatched by the Vancouver Canucks.
4. Chicago Blackhawks VS 5. Calgary Flames
Game one of this series was probably the most entertaining game of the first round so far. Game one had everything you could want in a playoff hockey game: lead changes, scrums, great individual battles, fantastic goaltending and overtime! Sure Martin Havlat ended the party early by scoring only 12 seconds into the overtime period but if game one was any indication of how the rest of the series will go then this and the Carolina-New Jersey series have the potential to become classics.
Like you, we at sportsroids will be watching intently to see how the rest of round one unfolds. Enjoy the ride hockey fans!
The playoff match-ups are all set and read to launch Wednesday evening. To start the first of two playoff previews I will take a look at the Eastern Conference match-ups, give you some notes about them and make a pick. This is the BEST part of the year by far so let's get right to the previews.
1. Boston Bruins VS 8. Montreal Canadiens
Well it's a year later and the seedings have been swapped but the first round match-up is the same as the Canadiens and Bruins throw more gasoline on the burning rivalry between the two. The teams are slightly different but the key pieces have gone unchanged. Carey Price and Tim Thomas are both back and bring with them playoff experience which neither of them had last year. Each netminder had stretches of brilliance and ineptitude in the series last year and with that experience under their respective belts they should each be relatively solid in net. Zdano Chara had a fantastic year on defense while Marc Savard, David Krejci, and others showed that you can score a lot of goals in a Claude Julien system. Montreal lost Mark Streit and last year's version of Alexi Kovalev but they gained some size and toughness in Ryan O'byrne and Georges Laraque (something they desperately needed against Philadelphia last season). There are plenty of other things to consider and we can talk all day and night about this series… so who has the advantage? The Bruins had a great season but really sputtered toward the end including a 6-1 loss to a Sabres team spending another April on the golf course. Montreal did not have the best end of the season either but despite falling so far so quickly they are in and that's what separates them from the Bruins, despite all odds the Canadiens end up where they want to be. Series outcome: Montreal in six.
2. Washington Capitals VS 7. NY Rangers
This is a battle of goaltenders, plain and simple. Despite the Caps star power when it comes down to a shooting contest I'll take Henrik Lundqvist over Jose Theodore any day. Washington can score so they'll steal a game or two but in the end the Rangers will advance in five or six.
3. New Jersey Devils VS 6. Carolina Hurricanes
How far can Martin Brodeur take the Devils? New Jersey did so well without him and once he returned it's like the team reverted back to the old days of play defense and rely on Brodeur to win 1-0. Those days are over, and if they play that against one of the league's hottest teams and a Conn Smythe winning goaltender they will lose. Ward has been unbelievable and with Eric Staal and Erik Cole in front of him the Devils are in serious trouble. All-in-all it's an even match-up on paper, but once you reach the playoffs if Pittsburgh taught us anything last year you go with the hot team. The hot team is Carolina, therefore the Canes take it in five.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins VS 5. Philadelphia Flyers.
It's the battle of Pennsylvania, division rivals, and the home of the “Crosby is a diver!” Tie that in with revenge on the minds of the Flyers after last year's playoff thrashing at the hands of the Penguins what else could you want in a series? Crosby and Malkin more than likely have to play well for the Penguins to advance but it's possible to see Pittsburgh in round two without top-notch play from their two stars. What the Penguins can't afford to have is inconsistent play from netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. When Fleury is on he's one of the best goaltenders in the league and shows flashes of what made him such a highly touted amateur player. But when Fleury is off the rest of the team is usually not good enough to bail him out. The same goes for Marty Biron on the other side of the ice. Even if Richards, Carter, Knuble, etc. are amazing if Biron is off the Flyers are done. So the key to this match-up is the goaltending; whoever wins the battle of the goalies will lead their team to round two. So who wins? Marc-Andre Fleury won last year and will win again this year. Both teams will have their moments but the Penguins will win in seven…(the Flyers will be kicking themselves for having lost home-ice on the last day of the season).
One of the greatest things about sports generally is the passion every person associated with any sporting event brings to the table. Whether it's the fans, players, front office, media, etc. there is something intangible about the passion brought out in people via sports. That being said, that passion is one thing that has made this NHL season one of the best I have ever seen. A lot of that has to be contributed to the tight playoff races in both conferences. It seems like every game is of the utmost importance toward determining who will be where at night's end as every point makes a WORLD of difference. But going beyond the teams vying for playoff spots there are a number of teams who have been virtually eliminated for quite some time but are still putting up an incredible fight night in and night out. For example, the New York Islanders have been out of having a legitimate shot at a playoff spot for quite some time. The Isles have traded some of their better players away (namely Bill Guerin) and have played most all of the season without their star goaltender Rick DiPietro. They have every reason in the world to pack it in, simply show up every night to take their spanking then move on. Instead the Isles are playing some of their best hockey right now which includes wins against teams in the playoff race including a 7-3 trouncing of the New Jersey Devils. This is great not only for the fans in attendance but for the future of the Islanders on Long Island. They are continuing to fight for a new arena with city officials and that has put their future in doubt; but by winning they are showing their frustrated but passionate fans that there can be brighter days and that the team is worth fighting for.
In a similar manner the Ottawa Senators , Toronto Maple Leafs and Atlanta Thrashers in the east along with the Colorado Avalanche and Phoenix Coyotes in the west are competing hard every single night. Those teams aren't all playing their best hockey right now but they are giving it their all every night and a few have stolen more than a couple games from teams who are very much in the thick of things. To see these teams work so hard is very reassuring. To know that teams who are not Stanley Cup playoffs bound still battle hard along the boards, get into scuffles to protect star players and goalies, and they still get so frustrated when the take penalties. There is still incredible joy when they score goals and win games along with equally intense feelings when they do the opposite. To see guys still playing hard for each other and their fans and to see the fans still getting just as into some of the games now as when the playoffs were still a possibility is so reassuring. There's something special about moments like those and it only makes me enjoy each game that much more.
Saturday night, with Patrick Roy in attendance, Martin Brodeur tied the all-time wins mark for a goalie and is now even with the aforementioned Roy with 551 wins. Brodeur has already accomplished just about everything else a goaltender can accomplish and now the all-time wins record will soon be his as well as the shutout record. He's won championships and broken records with nothing but class and dignity. All those who know him whether in the media or on the ice (perhaps except Sean Avery) have always had nothing but high praise for the way he handles himself in every aspect of life. And if all of that weren't enough, his New Jersey Devils have a very good team assembled in front of him. The Devils will certainly make a lot of noise come playoff time, but meanwhile they are in prime position to overtake the once high-flying Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. So not only can Brodeur claim two major records—after being out for most of the season only to return to the ice in top form—but he may be able to add another division title, regular season conference title, and most of all perhaps another Stanley Cup. Whether you're a fan of the Devils or not, watching Brodeur operate is a real treat for hockey fans everywhere. And as he goes on to break the all-time wins record and soon thereafter the shutout record, appreciate that you're watching a very special player, the type that doesn't come around every day and one we may never see again.
The New Jersey Devils downed the Boston Bruins Thursday night 4-3 in overtime despite blowing a 2-0 third period lead. That makes seven in a row for the Devils increasing their Atlantic Division lead to three points over the Rangers and allows them to slip past Washington for second in the East. This win streak is probably not an indication of what New Jersey will do in the playoffs but it says a lot about their team. When future hall-of-fame goalie Martin Brodeur went out for the season with an elbow injury early in November many wondered how the Devils would react to such a major loss. Scott Clemmensen has been quite impressive after a bumpy start to life without Brodeur in which the Devils lost 5 of 6 including a 4 game losing streak. Fans in New Jersey are now saying “Marty who?” well, not quite but so far so good for the Devils, but what happens in the playoffs is what matters.
On the other side of the spectrum are the Montreal Canadiens who, despite all the good will created from the all star game festivities this past week, are losers are 4 in a row and have questions about second year netminder Carey Price. Price has made three starts after returning from injury and has loss three games yielding 5 goals in each of those starts. The Canadiens and Price had some high expectations coming into this season, and many of those expectations can still be reached but it will take a much better effort from Price and from their once dominating power play. It is important to remember, however, that Price is just a second year player and not every goaltender can have the success so early in his career the way Patrick Roy did; but don't tell Canadiens' fans.
Every team in the NHL has now played at least 41 games which means the halfway point has officially been surpassed so sort of mid-season review is in order to see where things have gone and where we are headed as the stretch run approaches. Boston, Detroit, and San Jose are clearly the three best teams in the league each achieving high marks each by adding their own flavor. The second tier of teams includes the likes of the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, and Philadelphia Flyers who can all make a ton of noise in the playoffs and should not be forgotten about.
Tagged: April , Calgary Flames , Chicago Blackhawks , Dallas , Edmonton , Montreal Canadiens , New Jersey Devils , New York Rangers , Philadelphia Flyers , Phoenix Coyotes , Pittsburgh , Washington Capitals