Tag Archives: lundqvist

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.


The East

It’s playoff time baby so stop what you’re doing and grab a snickers.

But seriously, if you have a job you should probably quit it.

The East:

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins VS. #8 New York Islanders

First off nobody cares about how the teams matched up in the regular season.

What’s up: I can only imagine how pissed off Islanders fans were last night when they realized that the Bruins losing to the Sens meant a date with the Penguins.  The Pens are an absolute juggernaut, and if Crosby comes back to the lineup early on, I don’t see the Isles winning even one game.  With Sid in as the first line centre that drops Jokinen into a third line role, and Brandon Sutter into a fourth line.  When you look at the Isles up front– Taveres, Nielsen, Aucoin and Cizikas– it doesn’t even compare to what the Pens have to offer.

Matchup: Sidney Crosby VS. John Taveres – Both of these guys are getting serious attention for the Hart, and rightfully so.  It took Marty St. Louis 25 days to pass Crosby’s point total, and Crosby is still tied for third in the league in points.  Crosby’s 1.56 points-per-game is the highest of his career, and if he comes back and produces at that same pace, I don’t know how any team can stop the Pens.  But Taveres on the other hand, if you take him out of the lineup, you take the entire Islanders team out of the dance.  He was their leader all season, and in a regular 82 game season he would have tallied 50 goals.

Gamebreakers: For the Penguins it has to be Iggy.  This is his first real shot on a

where is his Flames uni?

where is his Flames uni?

contender(The Flames cup run doesn’t count) and Iginla, who is already a clutch performer will most likely be paired up on a line with Crosby and either Kunitz or Dupuis.  Basically just a recipe for success.  Let’s not forget the extremely potent power-play combination of Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Iginla and Letang

And for the Islanders; Michael Grabner.  This guy can fly, he won the fastest skater competition when he was a rookie.  He can score some goals too.  He’s one of those streaky bastards where you never know if he’s gonna produce or become invisible.  But with the heavy artillery primarily focused on Taveres and Moulson it may give Grabner some room to soar.

Prediction: The Isles are headed up, but it’s the luck of the draw this year.  The Pens are just too good, and will take the Islanders in four.  Let’s just hope I’m wrong.

#2 Montreal Canadiens VS. #7 Ottawa Senators

What’s up: Unlike the Islanders, the Habs and Sens were both pretty happy last night with what happened in Boston.  The Habs won the division, which ensures them home-ice in the first two rounds, and the Sens avoided Pittsburgh.  Both teams are coming off of over-achieving seasons  so this series could go either way.  It’s gonna come down to a coaches duel, as both Maclean and Therrien should be put into consideration for the Jack Adams.  The biggest hurdle that these two teams will have to overcome is the intense travel schedule.  I wonder if they’re just gonna take Mega Bus?

Matchup: P.K. Subban VS. Erik Karlsson – These guys are young, they’re good and they can both quarterback a power-play.  Subban led all defenseman in points with 38 and came second in power-play goals for a defenseman with seven.  The only guy with more was Andrei Markov.  Subban had a Norris calibre season.  The winner of the Norris last season was Karlsson, who if he hadn’t severed 70% of his achilles in February probably would have ran head-to-head with Subban.  Game one will be his fourth game back and the Sens are gonna have him logging lots of minutes if they wanna get through to the second round.

Gamebreakers: Montreal has two bright stars for their organization, their names are Alex

the two little munchkins and coach

the two little munchkins and coach

Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher.  Galchenyuk had a hot start to the season but cooled off near the end, and if he can lead the secondary scoring the Habs will be a threat.  Gallagher just needs to continue to do what he does best.  And that is to piss off the opposing team and score some goals.

The return of Jason Spezza is like going out and getting a superstar at the trade-deadline.  He is good.  If he can come back healthy at some point in this series, it’s gonna give the Senators an added boost.  They’ve made it this far with an AHL lineup and having Spezza back would be huge.

Prediction: The series is gonna go long and I am predicting an upset.  The Sens will take the Habs in seven.  Book it.  Craig Anderson will outplay Carey Price and Spezza will make a return that will bolster the offence.

#3 Washington Capitals VS. #6 New York Rangers

What’s up: For the fourth time in five years, the Caps and Rangers will see each-other in the post-season.  If the playoffs started a month ago, both of these squads would not be in this position, as they both popped the clutch and chucked it into sixth gear for the final month of the regular season.  The revival of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green may become the achilles heel of the Rangers’ season.  But the same can be said of King Hank who looks to be en-route to his second Vezina in two years.

Matchup: Alex Ovechkin VS. Rick Nash – Ovi and Nash are both known to put their teams on their backs and run the ball, errrrr puck.  If Maria Kirilenko continues to show up at the Verizon centre, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Ovechkin will continue this ridiculous pace that saw him score 23 goals in his last 23 games to secure the Rocket Richard.  And this is Nash’s first ever playoff appearance on a real team, so he won’t have to put too much stress on his back this year, but he’s got to be that offensive force that goes toe-to-toe with Ovechkin.  If Nash can’t match him, then I don’t know if the Rangers will get through to the second round.

Gamebreakers: In the Nation’s Capital, the Caps are gonna be relying heavily on Mike Green to continue to quarterback this top-ranked power-play.  At just over 26%, the Capitals power-play will be a huge part in them beating Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers.  With Greens grown maturity and hipster lifestyle, let’s just hope that he can play a little bit of defence as well.

Watch as Green picks the shit out of that corner and goes top-cheese.

At Madison Square Garden, Derek Stepan is that quiet threat that can rip holes through the Capitals defence.  If he can continue being that secondary scoring threat, and I think he will in this series, then the Rangers will have a chance.  That is, if Nash can mirror Ovechkin, which is no small task.

Prediction: Both teams are looking to keep up the solid play, but Ovechkin and company will prove to powerful for the Rangers.  Especially if the blue-shirts find themselves getting into a little bit of penalty trouble.  Capitals in six.

#4 Boston Bruins VS. #5 Toronto Maple Leafs

What’s up: I don’t even know if people blogged the last time that the Leafs were in the playoffs, but that doesn’t matter anymore, because they’re in.  And it’s not like they just barely squeaked by, the Leafs had a legitimate season, and that’s why they have a pretty good chance against the Bruins.  Sure, Boston has generally beaten up on the Leafs in the past, and sure a Leafs-Habs first round would have been one for the ages, but the Bruins are the fate, and Leafer fans are gonna have to live with it.  These two teams play a very similar type of hockey, and the big guns in Toronto are gonna make it or break it for the Leafs. This is the time for Kessel to step up and score his first goal against his former team.  He’s also gonna have to outplay Seguin and Hamilton so that the Leafs advance and the comments about how bad of a trade Burke made in acquiring Kessel was, are silenced.

Matchup: Zdeno Chara VS. Leafs Offence – Chara is big, and Kessel is pretty small.  With that being said, Kessel is gonna need some help from the likes of Kadri, Lupul and Bozak.  The Leafs have quite a bit of fire-power up front and a generally weak defensive corps, so if they want to win this series, their big-guns will have to be firing on all cylinders.  They’ve got to take more shots than they give up.  The Leafs are gonna have to stop being out shot by a country mile, because in the playoffs that’s not gonna fly, especially against a team that is so defensively sound in Boston.  When you look at the fact that it would be Chara versus the Leafs offence in Boston and Subban versus the Leafs offence in Montreal then you start to realize how much better the Leafs would have matched up against the Habs.

Gamebreakers: Dressed in black and yellow, the guy who all Leafs fans will hate by the end of

not the nose Dion, fuck

not the nose Dion, fuck

the series is Brad Marchand.  He did it when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup against the Canucks, and he’s gonna do it again in the first round against the Leafs.  He is an agitator, and the Leafs cannot start taking penalties because of this huge-nosed prick, or else they can kiss the season good-bye.

The Leafs have their own little pest that draws tons of penalties, too.  Nazem “The Dream” Kadri will look to relish his first opportunity at playoff hockey by getting under the skin of the Bruins and provide some lethal secondary scoring.  The big matchup, after the Chara versus the world one, will be Kadri and Marchand.  We saw it with Gallagher and we’ll see it again with Marchand.  The two little weasels will be at each-others throats like Homer on Bart.


Prediction: This series is going to be brutal and whoever comes out of it is will be battered and bruised.  Chara and the Bruins will end up being too tough for the Leafs, and the B’s will take it in seven.