Tag Archives: holtby

Six of eight are through and the Leafs and Rangers force game seven

Remember in game five of the Toronto-Boston series when James Reimer made that unbelievable toe-save on Patrice Bergeron? Well that very well could be the turning point in this series.  The score was 0-0 and Bergeron had a yawning cage, but somehow Reimer spread across and got a toe on a puck that was headed right for the back of the net.  If he doesn’t make that save, the series is done.

But it’s not, and the Leafs had a very very strong game six at home, with a 2-1 win thanks to a pair of goals in the second.  Phil Kessel had the eventual winner, and just like in game five, the Bruins came hard in the last few minutes of regulation, falling just short of tying it and sending the game to overtime.

In Manhattan, King Hank stole the show last night in what was probably Ovechkin’s best game of the series.  Lundqvist stopped 27 shots for the shutout, as the series had its second 1-0 game.  His 27 saves included this one on Ovechkin, who led his Capitals team in shots, laid the body and even blocked a few.

Right here is a prime example of what he did last night, and why he’s so dangerous.

But with two game sevens tonight, here are the three big factors in each series.

Toronto and Boston

1.) The ice is tilted in the Leafs favour.

When the Leafs went down 3-1 on a bad Phaneuf pinch in overtime, nobody was expecting them to come out of this series alive.  But with some stellar goaltending and timely goals, they’re right back in this thing.

The Leafs had a knack for getting wildly outshot and somehow mucking up a victory in the regular season, but they found out against Boston that this tactic wasn’t gonna work.  So after giving up pretty much 40 shots each game for the first five, they surrendered only 30 in game six.  Reimer was steady, but they didn’t need him to be a brick wall, because they carried the tempo for most of the game.

Brick Reimes and his save that turned this series around.

Brick Reimes and his save that turned this series around.

2.) The Bruins have done this before.

Two years ago, the Bruins stunned the Canucks in seven games.  They fell back 2-0 and stormed back to win the series in seven, at Rogers Arena.  And this team is pretty much identical.  Maybe you swap Thomas for Rask or Kaberle for Redden, but the core of this team is all there.

The Bruins celebrate as they win game seven in Vancouver.

The Bruins celebrate as they win game seven in Vancouver.

They know what it takes, and they’re probably not very happy that the Leafs have made this series so tough on them.  Especially since they’ve taken two of three at home.

3.) Phil has answered the media.

He’s scored three goals against his former team, and has silenced the critics that say he wouldn’t be able to perform in a playoff series against the Bruins.  He scored the eventual game winner last night, and has been reliable in his own end all series long.

Kessel has four points in this series, whereas Tyler Seguin has none and Dougie Hamilton has been a healthy scratch for a few games.  The “thank you Kessel” chants have gone from this:

to this:

Washington and New York

1.) The battle of the goalies.

Both Braden Holtby and Henrik Lundqvist have been sensational through the first six games of this series.  This is weird considering the Rangers and Capitals were the two hottest teams down the stretch and led the league in goals since the trade deadline.

The numbers of these two goalies are basically identical.  Holtby boasts a .938 save percentage whereas Hank boasts a .937, not to mention they’ve given up 12 and 11 goals respectively.

Ovechkin seems to have come out of hiding after he had a strong game last night, so Hank is gonna have to be fire.  And you’ve gotta think that Rick Nash will be a threat every chance he’s got the puck.  Holtby and Lundqvist are both up for the challenge.

2.) Home ice advantage.

Every single game in this series has been won at home ice.  So if the trend continues, Ovi and the Caps will be facing whoever prevails tonight in the Boston and Toronto series.

The Caps seem to like it at the Verizon Centre, going 15-8-1 in the regular season, and are 3-0 so far this post season.

I mean, who wouldn’t like skating out into a sea of red?

The Verizon Centre rivals the Shark Tank in San Jose in scariness.

The Verizon Centre rivals the Shark Tank in San Jose in scariness.

3.) Special teams.

The Rangers went 0-5 on the power-play last night, but the Caps? Oh, they didn’t have a single man advantage.  They had two power-plays in game five, going 1-2, and they’re gonna need to draw some penalties tonight if they want to advance.

The biggest piece to the Capitals offence is the power-play and if they can get a few man advantages they can put Mike Green to work.

They did it in game two, when they won it 1-0 in overtime, and tonight is probably going to boil down to special teams.  It’s gonna be a close matchup, just like every other game in this series, and one bad penalty could be lethal.

Predictions for tonight: Game seven in Boston is gonna be a hard-hitting, high-tempo game that comes down to one goal.  The Bruins are gonna come out hard, but Reimer will weather the storm, giving the Leafs a boost for the second and third.  Another 2-1 game in favour of the Leafs.

Game seven at the Verizon Centre will be a lot like the rest of this series.  Low scoring with stellar goaltending in both ends.  Ovechkin will break out of his cocoon and score the game winner.  We’ll see a final score of 3-2 in overtime, and a Capitals-Leafs Conference Semi Finals.


Isles play their last game on Long Island

The speedy Islanders led by John Tavares, were one unlucky deflection away from winning last nights game six in regulation.  Even getting to game six against the stacked Penguins surprised the hockey world, and this team will be a force for years to come.

But they were five minutes away from forcing the Pens into game seven.  And if this Paul Martin clapper from the point hadn’t deflected off of Frans Nielsens stick and gone perfectly bar-down, then we’d be seeing one game series tonight.

The Isles have gone from the basement to a legitimate playoff team after showing the entire NHL what they can do this postseason.  And their fans on Long Island are just gonna have to cross the bridge over to Brooklyn to cheer on their team at the Barclay’s Centre.

Here are three things that leaped out at me and force fed me formula.

1.) John Tavares held his own against Sidney Crosby in this series.

We all knew Johnny T was good, but what I never knew was how friggin’ strong this guy is.  The big matchup in this series was him versus Crosby and he didn’t finish second best in any categories.  Crosby did score more points, but Tavares was dominant almost every single shift.

Not only did he have an incredible playoff series, but he was nominated for the Hart Trophy earlier this week.  He is running up against Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.  And it was only just a few years ago where the thought of anyone other than Ovechkin and Crosby winning the Hart was unbearable.  But this kids for real.

Islanders fan believe so too, because in game four when the Isles shelled former first rounder Marc-Andre Fleury for six goals, Tavares was the man who scored the fifth and eventual game winner.  It was a pretty one too, as he made Brooks Orpik look like a pylon and went shelf on the Flower.

2.) Every team since 04′ that has drafted first overall is a legit team now, except for the Oilers.

Here’s a list:

2004 Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin  Russia Forward Dynamo Moscow Russia
2005 Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby  Canada Forward Rimouski Océanic QMJHL
2006 St. Louis Blues Erik Johnson  USA Defenceman United States NTDP NAHL
2007 Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane  USA Forward London Knights OHL
2008 Tampa Bay Lightning Steven Stamkos  Canada Forward Sarnia Sting OHL
2009 New York Islanders John Tavares  Canada Forward London Knights OHL
2010 Edmonton Oilers Taylor Hall  Canada Forward Windsor Spitfires OHL
2011 Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins  Canada Forward Red Deer Rebels WHL
2012 Edmonton Oilers Nail Yakupov  Russia Forward Sarnia Sting OHL

Ovechkin has made the Capitals a force year in and year out, Crosby has done the same for the Pens, and that includes a Stanley Cup and Gold at the Olympics.

Erik Johnson never panned out in St. Louis, but they received assets in Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk.  Stewart led the team in points, and Shattenkirk in points for a defensemen.

Everyone knows what Patrick Kane has done in Chicago with the help of captain Jonathan Toews.

Stamkos has become that guy that can compete against Ovechkin for the Richard, and even helped St. Louis win an Art Ross at the age of 37.

And then there’s Tavares, his point totals have increased every year that he’s been in the NHL, and coincidentally the Islanders have rocketed up the standings as well.

The Oilers have Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Yakupov and they should be a force soon, but they’ve still got a lot of work to do.

The Avs won the draft lottery, and will probably take Nate Mackinnon, who will make their top three centres Duchene, Mackinnon and Stastny.  Lethal.

3.) The Pens won’t win the Stanley Cup.

I know, it’s a pretty big accusation.

When you think about it, what are they gonna do if they run into a hot goaltender?  Nabokov was alright in the series, but he still let in a lot of questionable goals like the one off of Douglas Murray’s stick.

If the Isles had say, Lundqvist of the Rangers or even Holtby from the Capitals this series probably would have gone the other way.

They’ve got Chris Anderson and the pesky Sens in the second round.  Anderson would have been a shoe-in for the Vezina had he not gotten hurt earlier in the season.  He’s got a 950 save percentage and a 1.8 goals against average.  This was against the number two ranked Habs.  This goaltending combined with the fire power that the Sens have, which could be bolstered if Spezza is cleared, will be a tough task for the Stanley Cup favourites.

And what if they do make it through?  Then they’ve gotta either face Rask, Lundqvist, Holtby or Reimer.  All three are better than the two goalies that the Pens have.  I feel they could take Reimer and the Leafs, but the Capitals have proved they can play tight defensively, Lundqvist is a Vezina finalist and the Rask and the Bruins are just too powerful and stingy.

I do predict that Anderson will shut down the Pens offence and that the Sens will take it in six.  Anyways, everyone loves an underdog right?