Tag Archives: playoffs

End of the road

I feel bad for anyone that was watching the NBA playoffs last night.  You missed a thriller in Bean Town and a schlacking at the Capital.

And just to ice it off: *SPOILER ALERT* the Miami Heat take the ‘ship.

I told you.

The score was 4-1 when The Dream scored his first career playoff goal.  And it looked like that insurance marker was the dagger in the heart of the Boston faithful.  That was the Leafs second goal of the period, and they looked to be cruising into the second round where they’d meet King Henrik and the Rangers.

But then this happened.

Just ruthless, it reminded me of a Canucks game.  One from this season though, because they have been generally good in the third periods the past few years.  Everyone knows that you play to win and not to lose, and the only acceptable way to sit back on a lead is if your coaches name is Jacques Lemaire.  Because then you already know how the trap works, you’ve been doing it the entire season.

What they really needed to do last night was continue playing with energy, driving the net and capitalizing on chances.  We saw this in game five when the Bruins came close to tying the game and sending it into overtime.  And then we saw it on Sunday, when Lucic scored with 30 seconds left to make it 2-1.  And then there was last night.

Being a Canucks fan, it makes me a little happy to see such a collapse.  One that reminded me of the 0-3 hole the Flyers were against the Bruins in 2010 that saw them pushing it to game seven, being down three again and coming back to win the series.  Going all the way to the cup finals, where they lost to the Blackhawks.

Back to being a Canucks fan.  I can’t really be all that happy about the Leafs collapsing like this, because well, the Canucks were swept.  At least the Leafs played with heart, and never gave up on the series even when they were down 3-1.  The Canucks got one solid period from Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, and maybe four or five shifts out of the Sedins.  Phil Kessel answered the media, scoring four goals, including the third goal last night, he also assisted on Kadri’s what should have been insurance marker.

I think after this series, the debate over that Kessel trade should be put to rest.  Along with Kessels four goals were two assists.  He scored the game winner in game six and a pretty important third goal in game seven.  Seguin had one point.  His one point did come in overtime of game seven though, so I guess that’s worth like three, but Kessel was the better player in this series.

Leafs fans have to be happy with the way their team played, they took the Bruins –who should be a favourite right now– to game seven.  Reimer was basically a brick wall, Kessel was hot, they played steady defensively and they played exciting hockey.  The only thing that they might be a little bit cheesed with is the fact they got dominated in the circle.  In game seven the Bruins won 43 face-offs.  The Leafs won 18.  Nobody on the Bruins team was under 50% in the circle.  Only one player for the Leafs was 50%.  That was Leo Komarov.

He had an awesome series.  And it all started with his fight with Chris Kelly in game one.

The Leafs were embarrassed in their first playoff game in nine years, and Komorov shook things up a little.  After that, the Leafs went back to playing their brand of hockey that got them into the playoffs.  Run and gun, with the stars scoring, and getting a little bit of help from their talented back-end.

When Morgan Reilly comes into the fray next season, they will have two of the most talented defensemen in the league in him and Gardiner.  This isn’t the last time that we’ll be seeing the Leafs in the playoffs.

I consider them to be a lot like the Islanders.  They’ll be here for a while, and this is just the start of their quest for Stanley.


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?

A bunch of stuff happened in hockey last night

Watching the Leafs game at Jack Astor’s, I must’ve been the only person there that wasn’t cheering when Reimer made that sick toe save or when Bozak and MacArthur scored breakaway goals.

When you think about it, had Bergeron buried that, the Leafs would probably have lost.  This save put the Bruins on the power-play, where Bozak scored a short-handed breakaway goal.  And if the second period ended 1-0 in favour of the Bruins, who knows what would have happened in the third.

And considering Toronto is not the centre of the universe (I know, shocking), there were three other games last night.  Not that Jack Astor’s cared though, considering I waited patiently for them to put the Caps and Rangers game on.  It never happened so I peaced it.

But here IS what happened last night.

1.) Will we see a repeat?

I’m just gonna throw this out there right now, but we could see our first Stanley Cup repeat since the Detroit Red Wings did it in 98′.  The Kings are just so dominant, and last night took out the St. Louis Blues in six games after the Blues stormed out of the gates with a 2-0 lead.  That may have awoken the beast, because the Kings won four straight after that, and the Blues, many could argue, were the team that could beat Los Angeles.

And if we do see a back-to-back Stanley Cup performance from the Kings, we’ll have to see something a bit like this:

If this does happen, I can guarantee you that I will not be the only person yelling “fuck!” as I chuck my remote at the TV.

2.) Just a little bit of creativity.

If you were watching the Leafs and Bruins game last night, you probably left your couch/bar stool/table with skid marks after Grabovski got a bit creative.

He was behind the net, and must’ve had an ear-piece with Pavel Datsyuk on the other end, because what he did was Datsyukian.  He had the nerve, in an elimination game against the big bad Bruins, to flip the puck up and over Tuukka Rask and try to bat the puck in out of the air.  If that doesn’t give the guy big cahones’ then I don’t know what does.

Him and Datsyuk must have been talking, because not too long after, the magician himself, worked a little magic of his own on the Ducks’ defence.

3.) Ovechkin has been invisible, but that’s okay, cause the Caps are still winning…at home.

After scoring his teams first goal of the series on a power-play in game one, and assisting on a Mike Green overtime winner in game two, Alex Ovechkin is nowhere to be seen.

This years Rocket Richard winner, Ted Lindsay nominee and Hart nominee was on a torrid pace at the end of the season, scoring 22 in 21, but has been a non-factor in this series so far.  Much of this, is thanks to the D-pairing of Ryan Mcdonagh and Daniel Girardi.  They have shut down Ovechkin so far with Mcdonagh’s unbelievable skating ability and Girardi’s stay-at-home style.

Another reason why he’s been dormant throughout the series could be because his fiancee was in Madrid, and is now in Rome playing tennis.  But if the Caps should prevail, hopefully she’ll be in the crowd in the second round.

lucky man

lucky man









As long as the Capitals are winning at home, Ovechkin probably isn’t too worried, because unless he faces Boston in the next round, he’ll have more space on the ice to score some goals.

And Johnny T and the Isles look to force a game seven in Pittsburgh tonight.  Let’s hope they do.

Second Canadian team eliminated, first one advances

In a series that saw a whole lotta drama, the pesky Sens have prevailed, and are off to the Eastern Conference Semis, chucking the Montreal Canadiens onto the golf courses.

Who will they meet? Probably the Pens, but for now Paul MacLean is just happy that he beat his moms favourite team.

The Sens can relish on the fact that they took out the number two seeded Canadiens, and that nobody even expected their injury depleted lineup to make the playoffs.

If not for injuries, Anderson would have ran away with the Vezina, Karlsson would have pushed a point-per-game giving him Norris talk, and Spezza would have had a shot at the Art Ross.  But nonetheless, the bingo boys from Binghamton and the core of veterans led this team to the playoffs, with a little help from Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop on the way.

It’s been a full team effort from this squad to advance, and they know it.

And pesky gets a lot more sexy in the second round.

But enough of this Senators talk, my top three from last night.

1.) Two more eliminations

Not only were P.K. Subban and the Montreal Canadiens shoved aside last night, but the Minnesota Wild and their $196 million signings were as well.

After losing Nick Backstrom before the series even started, they went to backup Josh Harding for the first four games.  But then he too was hurt, and young Darcy Kuemper was forced to start the final game of the series.  You really gotta feel for the Wild, because not only did they lose their starting and backup tendy’s, but they were stuck with the friggin’ Chicago Blackhawks.


Both the Habs and the Wild should be back in the playoff hunt next year, and hey, at least they lasted longer than the Canucks.

2.) Sidney Crosby scores a sick goal.

If you haven’t seen it, watch this first.

I couldn’t find it on YouTube but it’s there, John Tavares does almost exact same move as what Crosby did just one minute later.  Only difference is that if Fleury was in net instead of Vokoun he would have scored, and if he had scored, it would have been a 2-1 game.  But since he didn’t, that allowed this to happen:

Hmm, remind you of someone?

Funny how Malkin does it one year earlier, and then Crosby just has to one-up his Russian counterpart by doing it in the playoffs.

3.) Teams on the brink

The goal above sealed last nights victory for the Pens, making the series 3-2 as it heads back to the Nassau Coliseum for quite possibly the last game on Long Island.  Princess Crosby chants will be a plenty.  

just a nice drawing I mucked up off the interwebs.

just a nice drawing I mucked up off the interwebs.

The Leafs look to win tonight so they can bring game six back to Toronto, which will be no small task at TD Garden.  Maple Leaf Square will be rocking tonight though, that’s for sure.

St. Louis, after taking the first two games at home, have lost three straight to the Kings, and need to win or else it’s two years in a row that they’ve been steam-rolled by Los Angeles.  If the Kings advance, they could very well replicate what they did last Spring.

Detroit looks to hunt down some Ducks tonight in the Motor City.  They have not lost back-to-back first rounds in their 22 year playoff streak, and are at risk of that happening tonight.  They’d also like to force a game seven in Cali.  

If the Leafs can make a comeback they will give Canada a 25 % chance in winning the cup, and if both Cali teams win tonight, then all three teams from Arnold’s state will still be alive.

Brooms are out in San Jose

The Canucks competed like bastards tonight, but ultimately came up short, and have been bounced out of the playoffs in four straight games by the San Jose Sharks.

At least Alex Burrows listened, as he scored the tying goal and assisted on the one that put them ahead 3-2.

But, of course, the Canucks couldn’t hold a late third period lead as Kevin Bieksa –who ripped apart Jumbo Joe and captain of the All Ugly Team, Logan Couture– took a questionable cross-checking penalty that saw who else but Joe fuckin’ Pavelski tie it up.

Just listen to the whole thing.

But wait, it doesn’t end here, as Daniel Sedin decided to make his first career hit in overtime, but was awarded with a boarding penalty that eventually ended up in a Patrick Marleau series-ending goal.

Another questionable call indeed, but thats not what lost the series for the Canucks, they just couldn’t put the damn puck in the net.

Luongo didn’t look too rattled in the post-game handshakes, though.

Here’s just a short list of what the fuck happened in this series:

Canucks play like shit in first game.

Luongo plays well in games one, two and relief of Schneider in game three.

Jannick Hansen does not bury an empty netter in game two that leads to a Henrik Sedin giveaway and a Patrick Marleau goal.

Sharks scored first in all four games.

Only six different Canucks scored goals in this series.

Only three were forwards; Burrows (2), Kesler (2), and Raymond (1).

Raffi Torres scored one of them.

Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture both had eight points.

That’s as many points as the Canucks had goals.

Garrison was still yet to be found on the first unit power play.

Coincidently, they only scored two goals on said power play.

And coincidently to that, Vigneault’s ass will be fired, along with the rest of his coaching staff.

Bieksa loves to stir the pot.

And he was right about the reffing, but the Canucks ultimately lost this series because half the team decided to hit up Dany Heatley’s beach house in Aruba a bit early this season.

And last but not least, the Sharks scored six power play goals in the last two games

The big question in Vancouver now is, who the fuck do they keep in net for next season?

Do they trade Schneider and get a better return than they would with Luongo?  Or do they let Luongo go and hope that Schneids works on his rebound control over the summer?

I pick A, because Luongo is and always will be the better goalie.

Sunday funday in the NHL

Leafs fans couldn’t be happier from what transpired last night.  First, the Habs got pummelled by the Sens both on the scoresheet and with fists, then the Canucks got hosed by the Sharks, and are now on the brink of elimination.

But here ya go, the top three from last night.

1.) Sens and Habs really don’t like eachother.

Other than the line brawl, we got to see a Subban ground and pound on Kyle Turris, a Josh Jorges intentional slap-shot at Turris and not only is Paul MacLean a bug-eyed fat walrus, but he is now a “classless” bug-eyed fat walrus.

In last night’s game, Michelle Therrien called Paul MacLean classless after he used a timeout with 17 seconds left in a 6-1 schlacking.   But if you ask me, if your team is gonna instigate fights, shoot pucks at my players and basically just throw the game away, why wouldn’t I try and score more goals?  Although, MacLean probably just didn’t want anyone to get hurt, scoring more goals is always fun.

2.) AV’s noose has tightened and the window has slammed shut.

The Canucks are down 3-0 for the second year in a row.  After being up 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago, the Canucks have mustered up one win in the playoffs.  That’s a beautiful record of 1-9.

As a Canucks fan, you’ve gotta think that Vigneault’s tenure in Vancouver is screeching to a halt.  Sure he took them to the cup finals, and sure he is the most winningest coach in team history, but he has just not gotten the job done.  He makes questionable decisions in assembling his troops and plays favourites.  Edler and Raymond ring a bell? What about the swift skating Keith Ballard being stapled to the press-box?  Or what about last night, when he decided to slot in a cold Cory Schneider over Roberto Luongo? You think Canucks fans will now realize that Lu isn’t the problem? So many questions, only one answer.  Vigneault has to go.

Sitting from the sidelines, my biggest beef with AV has got to be the fact that a young budding power forward named Zack Kassian hasn’t been riding shot gun with the Sedins.  I mean, did he not score a bunch of goals at the beginning of the season with them? Does he not create space by hitting hard and driving (sometimes) to the net?

Oh, and one more, Jason Garrison isn’t on the first power play unit?  Hmm kinda just a little bit goofy.  What are they paying him for anyways? Yes, he is a reliable defensemen, but his clap-bomb is the money maker for that guy.  My guess is that he just wants Elder to look good because he is so brutal defensively.

Just read the comments, I’m not the only one.

The window is shut, and it really stings for Canucks fans.

where'd all of the "fans" go?

where’d all of the “fans” go?

3.) The Islanders are actually really entertaining.

Anyone remember last year when the Penguins lost to the Flyers in the first round? The Bryzgalov vs. Fleury saga has now become Nabokov vs. Fleury.

Other than the 5-0 win in game one, the Flower has given up eight goals, and Nabokov has a 4.77 goals against average in the first three.

But the thing is that nobody, I mean nobody gave the Islanders a chance in this series.  And when you have goaltending that is suspect, anything can happen.

Especially when you’ve got players like Kyle Okposo who steps his game up in the playoffs.

After scoring the game winner in OT in game two, he scored the goal that sparked the comeback yesterday for the Isles.

It’s nice to know that when you’re losing, you have a chance to come back and make it a hockey game, and the Isles have just that.  If only there were a team on the West Coast that could use some of that magic?

Lets just hope that the Islanders ice girls make their way over to Brooklyn.

Vancouver could use some of these

Vancouver could use some of these

At least if they don’t, the Isles will have Alyonka Larionov.

Annnnnd tonight: Leafs play first playoff home game in nine years, Capitals look to make it 3-0 on the Rangers, the battle of the titans in LA and the Red Wings look to go duck hunting at home.