In this edition of the NHL Playoff Recap for Tuesday April 15th, the cream is starting to rise to the top as some teams try and pull away while other, underachieving teams start to pour it on. Read on as I break down yesterday's games as well as my predictions for the outcome of these series as I compare to my initial predictions.
Canadiens 1 vs Bruins 0 (Mtl leads 3-1)
Maybe I'm a homer, but despite the score, this was one of the more exciting games I have watched to date (And I try to watch em all ! ). Tim Thomas was great on his 34th birthday, Carey Price was both good and lucky (as he lost a race for the puck and Marco Sturm just missed scoring into an open net). The good news for the Canadiens is that they got their only goal on the powerless of late powerplay. The not so great news is that it was scored by Patrice Brisebois, not necessarily the guy the Habs were looking at to provide the scoring punches. All that being said, the Habs head back to Montreal for game 5 to a full house. The boo birds will be waiting for Zdeno Chara in case he didn't hear enough boos in his own home rink. One would have to wonder what ti would be like if Alex Kovalev came home to the Bell Centre after being verbally abused for 2 games, only to find that half the stands felt the same way.. Incredible ! The Canadiens, I believe, will not want to go back to Boston and will most likely capitalize on this golden opportunity to put the series on ice in 5.... just like I predicted.
Capitals 3 vs Flyers 6 (Phi leads 2-1)
The Capitals , as I predicted, have run out of steam. While this doesn't necessarily mean that they will roll over and play dead, it does mean that alot of people underestimated the Flyers in this match-up. Christobal Huet showed signs of his old self letting an a few goals that he had not let in down the stretch. He is also showing signs of irritation as the Flyer players seem to be getting under his skin. Bottom line is Huet looked vulnerable having faced only 19 shots in the game and Daniel Briere lit up the scoreboard with 2 goals and one assist. Alexander Ovechkin was held to 1 assist and this on the man-advantage. I predicted Flyers in 7. The next game this Thursday will shed a clearer light as to the direction this series will head.
Ducks 4 vs Stars 2 (Dal leads 2-1)
They couldn't do it at home, but at least they did it. By this I mean Anaheim showing up for a game. Let's face it, this game was over in the first period and most of the Anaheim players that should have shown up, did. Pronger got two goals, Marchant had his say and J-S Giguere did his part. The Stars also sent Anaheim another message that they should be weary of taking penalties against the Stars as their only two goals came on the power-play in the third. I look to see the Ducks also take the next one in Dallas. I predicted the Ducks in 5 so there goes that theory, but the Ducks should still win after stumbling out of the gate.
Sharks 3 vs Flames 2 ( series tied 2-2)
I predicted San Jose in 6. It's looking pretty interesting ! I've said all along that I was waiting for that magic moment when Joe Thornton would have his breakout game. Well, if scoring the winning goal with just 9.4 seconds left in regulation time is not the spark he was looking for, then nothing is. In the other end of the ice, the Flames set a franchise low for shots on goal in a playoff game, managing just 10 against the Evgeni Nabokov while the Flames' Kiprusoff had to face 32. I believe the Sharks will win the next two and will be led by Joe Thornton while Nabokov will stand on his head. Game 5 is Thursday night at San Jose and then the team with the best road wins record will head back to Calgary to close it off.
Wild 1 vs Avalanche 5 (series tied at 2)
What? No overtime? No 3-2 final? There were alot of differences to this game compared to the other 3. This one was over in the 1st period and not in the 4th, there were fights, game misconducts, powerplays and goals. Milan Hejduk, Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic all figured in the scoring, but on the same goal while other supporting characters took care of the other 4 Avalanche goals. This was a game filled with frustrated penalties from the Wild. Said Coach Jacques Lemaire : "I couldn't wait until that game gets over. "I knew there was nothing to do. It was getting ugly, the guys were frustrated. The more they got frustrated, the more we got penalties. Guys were talking on the bench, we got bench penalties, it never stopped." At least the Wild could take solace that the Avalanche poerplay went 2 for 13 or the score could have been alot worse. I predicted the Avalanche in 7... It might be sooner unless the Wild can bounce back from this convincing loss.