What was once a stretch for me to be writing about hockey, has now become somewhat "my thing," coupled with playoff hockey being infinitely more exciting and the Bruins being relevant, I'm tuned in.
My thoughts from the puck playoffs:
Any rust? Didn't look like it. A 4-1 series opening victory gave the Boston Bruins that top seed shine. Bruins net minder, Tim Thomas turned the Hurricane attack into nothing more than an afternoon shower. (Come on, give me credit that was good) The Boston Bruins came out and continued their goal scoring attack on Friday night. In five playoff games the B's have recorded 21 goals, four or more in each of their victories. The Bruins defense has yet to allow more than two goals in any game and with their most recent victory have pushed Tim Thomas' goals against average down to 1.40 after game 1. What does a cup favorite look like? My guess is something fairly close to the Black & Gold.
Live from Hockeytown, the '07 & '08 cup winners square off in the second round. We're talking Ducks v. Wings baby. Game 1 gave us exactly what we expected from these two veteran laden teams. Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings captain, showed up in a big way during the opener in this best of seven. His game winning goal with under a minute remaining showed the Red Wings defending champion swagger. This series will give you great goalies, both Jonas Hiller and Chris Osgood have come to play. The Ducks got great play from Ryan Getzlaf, as they have all year long. But of course the story of the night was the two goal performance turned in by near 20-year veteran Nicklas Lidstrom. We're in for a great one folks.
The only series opening north of the border, Canucks v. Blackhawks didn't disappoint in game 1. The Canuck offense jumped on Chicago early and took a 3-0 lead heading into the third period. With Roberto Luongo in net having a fantastic playoffs, the Blackhawks seemed destined to get shutout in game 1. That was the case however, until Chicago turned to their 20-year old Calder Trophy winning right winger, Patrick Kane. Kane would draw the Blackhawks closer by scoring two third period goals that were followed up by a game tying goal from center Dave Bolland. At 3-3 the once destined for a shutout Blackhawks were looking to steal game 1. Luongo and the Canucks would be able to hold off Chicago's comeback by scoring two goals of their own, including an empty netter, in the final minutes. Were you looking for excitement? Assuming Blackhawk captain, Jonathan Toews, breaks out of his playoff funk (zero goals since April 18th) we'll get that excitement we were looking for north of the border.
Lastly, because you know what you were looking for . . . Pens v. Caps, the NHL's banner series. A 1:00 pm start time puts the games premiers players on the ice by themselves. The Derby won't be running, puck fans have nothing else to watch, on stage right enter Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. Ovechkin, the LeBron James of the NHL, high scoring, cocky swagger, ever the antagonist. Crosby, the chosen one, Mario's protege, I'm using a new nickname for him "The Commercial" because that's who'd be used if you were carrying the NHL banner. That isn't all though, those players are the highlight films, but the real story should be your runaway MVP candidate and points champion, Penguins center, Evgeni Malkin. In the first series Malkin recorded 4 goals and 5 assists against in-state rival Philadelphia. Beware of the big stars on the big stage, if Ovechkin wanted to prove to the world how good he is, this is the place to do it.
I was asked why hockey and why now? After banging on the sport for so long, I gave up. Playoff hockey is undeniabley exciting and with these four series it sure won't be dissappointing. Eh?