Monday, April 16, 2012

NHL Playoffs Week #2 Preview!

We are officially 2-3 games into the NHL Playoffs First Round!  Sometimes it feels like forever waiting all summer through training camp, preseason, and 82 regular season games just to get to this point.  Now that it is here, for some (including myself, nooooo!) that journey is nearly over...

Cross checking in the throat, probably not a good idea Asham...
Series Updates:
Eastern Conference
#1 Rangers & #8 Senators tied 1-1
#2 Bruins & #7 Capitals tied 1-1
#3 Panthers & #6 Devils tied 1-1
#5 Flyers leading #4 Pens 3-0

Western Conference
#8 Kings leading #1 Canucks 3-0
#2 Blues & #7 Sharks tied 1-1
#3 Coyotes & #6 Blackhawks tied 1-1
#4 Predators leading #5 Red Wings 2-1

Here are the games through Wednesday night:
Rangers and Senators 7:30 CNBC
Bruins and Capitals 7:30 NBC Sports
Blues and Sharks 10:00 NBC Sports

Panthers and Devils 7:30 NHL Network
Predators and Red Wings 7:30 NBC Sports
Coyotes and Blackhawks 9:00 CNBC

Rangers and Senators 7:30 CNBC
Penguins and Flyers 7:30 NBC Sports (ELIMINATION GAME)
Canucks and Kings 10:00 NBC Sports (ELIMINATION GAME)

Biggest Shocks:
2 Heavy Cup Favorites are down 3-0 in the FIRST ROUND
  • I knew going in that the top team (record/point-wise from the regular season) Vancouver was not as strong without goal scoring twin Daniel Sedin but to be down 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings and 1 game from elimination? Man.  Sucks for them!  The Canucks have already made a goalie change and it's looking like they will have a huge controversy this summer about whom to keep long term.  Huge props to LA though, they made dynamite moves last summer and at the trade deadline to make themselves better.  It's working.  It's just funny to think last year's Western Conference winner and only 1 game away from winning it all is this close to being out in mid-April.  If the city rioted after losing game 7, imagine this disappointment!
  • I'm not going to mess around here.  The Pens are down 3-0 to their hated in-state rivals Flyers.  The Pens were supposed to be 100% healthy with the games two best players in Crosby and Malkin.  They have given up 20 goals in 3 games.  Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury looks lost at best.  The defense is non-existent and now people are questioning whether last season's coach of the year's overall system can even work in the playoffs.  As I Google hangout with my buds Dougie Streets and Mr. Powers during the broadcasts, we have no words to describe our feelings.  It's not anger, not sadness, just nothing.  Wednesday night could be it and one has to wonder, if it ends, what will happen to the current squad this summer with Sidney Crosby's contract up after next season?

What Shouldn't Shock You:
Road Teams Winning
  • Home ice has never meant that much in this sport.  It's nice to have from a fan perspective and the extra potential game each series is nice for the owner's wallet but in the grand scheme of the games, it doesn't matter.
  • Check this stat out!  Road teams are 11-8 in the playoffs so far.  That's amazing since the first 2 games are home for the lower seed.  In fact, not one team won both their games at home and the Penguins/Canucks both lost EACH of their first home games.  Still, there's nothing like playoff hockey.  The crowds, the hitting, the passion, the overtimes, the craziness.

What to Watch Moving Forward:
Brendan Shanahan and his suspensions/fines
  • There have been numerous fights and bad hits throughout this playoff already.  This has lead to some minor fines and suspensions. If what we've seen already is leading to this, what will the future rounds be like?  No one wants to see top players out for any amount of time, but you cannot ignore illegal hits or cheap shots at this point just because it's the playoffs.  
  • Shanahan is the head of NHL discipline, the czar so-to-speak and his videos throughout the regular season were rather humorous explaining why the punishment fit the crime.  They became popularly called "ShanaBans."  But what worries me is that he was very close to suspending all-world defender Shea Weber of the Predators for 1 game until he spoke to Detroit's GM who told him his player was fine.  Since there was no injury, he stuck with the max player fine of $2,500.  I don't know about you, but C'MON!
Watch #6 in yellow, he punches #40 in white then slams his head off the glass, dang.