Game Two: Detroit Dominates Again

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back to back games didn't seem to tire the Detroit Red Wings. It seems as if nothing can stop them once the puck hits the ice at the start of a game. The Pittsburgh Penguins did, however, keep up most of the game. Although the game started off kind of sloppy and neither team seemed to be able to get the puck into the opponent's zone cleanly, it did pick up.

The game picked up a bit, and Detroit got some good scoring chances. Young gun, Darren Helm, did what he did best by making fools of the Penguins defenseman, and opening up space for himself. He didn't score, but did get the shot off. Detroit spent most of the first half of the opening period in the Penguins end, and shots were 6-1 in their favor. The Red Wings kept the pressure and controlled the neutral zone very well. When the Pens did finally get the puck out of their zone, Ruslan Fedotenko, who had the lone goal for his team in game one, had a good chance but was denied by Chris Osgood. The Penguins got the first power play of the night and about 40 seconds in, Evgeni Malkin put it behind Osgood after many attempts. This put the Pens up 1-0, their first lead of the series.

The second period started off with a lot of energy. Pittsburgh seemed to be a lot better along the boards and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury looked more confident. As energetic as the period was, with the Pens forcing an icing, they had some tired legs out there. Off the draw, Jonathan Ericsson took a shot from the point to tie the game up at one, assists going to Jiri Hudler and Darren Helm.

All the momentum was with Detroit and to add to that, Evgeni Malkin took the Penguins first penalty of the night. No goals were scored on the power play; however, Valtteri Filppula scored 14 seconds after it ended with a pretty goal to put Detroit up 2-1. After that goal, the game was really fast paced and non stop play. Shots by Detroit kept coming all the way until the very last second of the period.

In the beginning minutes of the third period, Sidney Crosby, who had been quiet most of the game, had a really good scoring chance out in front Osgood. He even had a second chance, but the puck bounced off the post and went under the pads of Osgood who held for a whistle. A little over two and a half minutes in, Justin Abdelkader scored his second NHL playoff goal and second of this series. This put the Red Wings up 3-1, gave Detroit all the confidence, and made the Pittsburgh bench a little tense.

Fans started chanting "Ozzy" for their goaltender at about six minute mark, as he made saves to keep the score 3-1 Detroit. He was a key component because the last five minutes was all Penguins as they tried to come back from the two goal deficit they put themselves in. The Jordan Staal line was the hardest working for the Pens and that consisted of himself, Tyler Kennedy, and Matt Cooke. The hard work didn't end up paying off as the Pens went on to lose this one 3-1.

Best Player of the Game: Jordan Staal.

Game One Goes to Detroit

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The anticipated series between the Detroit Redwings and the Pittsburgh Penguins has begun and game one is in the books. Detroit took this game 3-1, and it seemed as though only a few players on the Penguins decided to show up to the game.

The first period was pretty calm for a Stanley Cup Final game and it was for the most part evenly played by both clubs. There were good chances early but defenseman Brad Stuart started off the scoring by putting the Red Wings up 1-0. About five minutes later, the score was tied when Ruslan Fedotenko found the rebound from an Evgeni Malkin shot at the point to put it in the back of the net. The score at the end of twenty minutes was 1-1 with shots at 11-7 in Detroit's favor.

The Penguins got back to back powerplays in the first ten minutes of the second period, but capitalizing on chances in neither. Although there were no goals, they created some beautiful scoring chances and the game had picked up a bit. The crowd erupted when goaltender Chris Osgood saved a breakaway opportunity for Malkin, keeping the score tied at one. With about seven minutes remaining, the Pens seemed to apply more pressure than they had the whole game, but quickly the momentum shifted to the Red Wings side. The last four to five minutes was all Detroit, and they were rewarded for their hard work with a goal, with less than a minute left to play in the period. Johan Franzen put them up 2-1 with his eleventh of the playoffs. Besides a few, typical scrums, this game hasn't been nearly as physical as I thought it would be.

Detrot kept the pressure heading into the start of the third and what do you know, within 2:46 they have a two goal lead on the Pens. Justin Abdelkader scored his first NHL goal, with the assist going to Ville Leino, who scored his first NHL point. The blame shouldn't be put on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury himself though, because it was the whole team who kept breaking down defensively. After the Abdelkader goal, it was mostly back and forth action until about the ten minute mark when Pittsburgh kicked it up a notch, spending some time in the Red Wings zone.

Even though the Penguins are a highly offensive team, watching the game it seemed as if they were nervous. I knew if they couldn't get back within one goal before there was under five minutes left, that it was going to be tough. The signs just weren't going the Penguins way, as they got many scoring chances and just couldn't capitalize. Sure enough, Detroit won their eighth straight game one. Game two is Sunday night, same place and same time. Fleury stopped 27 of 30 shots while Osgood made 31 saves.

Best Player of the Game: Chris Osgood.

In Remembrance

Friday, May 29, 2009

Today marks the one year anniversary of Luc Bourdon's tragic death from a motor vehicle accident. Bourdon was bound to be a great defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks at the young age of 21. A little over a month after he celebrated his 21st birthday on February 16 last year, he was taken from the ones he loved including the hockey world.

Luc's mother, Suzanne Boucher, founded the Luc Bourdon Memorial Fund which serves to support children in need in the area of New Brunswick where Luc was from. Luc, himself, was a supporter of the minor hockey leagues in that area. In his first year in the NHL, he donated over $10,000 to the Minor Hockey Association. In memory of Luc, anyone can make donations to help support young athletes and scholarships in the town of Shippigan, New Brunswick. The Vancouver Canucks organization created and sold commemorative Luc Bourdon t-shirts at the Canucks Team Store during playoffs, and raised over $14,000 for the foundation.

Although he was taken way too soon, his best friend, Kris Letang, has some very fond memories with him. In Juniors, they both played on the Val d'Or Foreurs winning two gold medals together. Letang stated, "We were playing together. We were roommates together. We share, like, everything together." Bourdon still affects Letang today, as he is part of his pregame routine. Whenever Letang scores, he thinks of his good friend Luc and knows he is watching him.

Bourdon was not only a professional athlete, he had an artistic side to him as well. He could play guitar, sing, and even wrote some of his own songs. Bourdon recorded a song he had written for his girlfriend, Charlene Ward, and it was played at his funeral. Charlene also read a poem Luc had written for her. As Letang reminisced the memories of his good friend, he brought one up from when they were in Juniors. "One time, Steve Downie (now with the Tampa Bay Lightning) was playing guitar, and it was kind of annoying because he didn't know how to play," Letang said. "Luc was a great guitarist, and he was kind of ticked off because Steve was always playing in front of everybody in the lounge, so Luc took the guitar and ripped all the strings off."

The Luc Bourdon Memorial Fund is a great way to keep the spirit of Bourdon here with us and to do what he would be doing if he was still here. The smiles he could bring upon people is missed, as family, friends, teammates, and fans all still remember Luc Bourdon and how he was taken too soon.

A Possible Rematch?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It seems as if the hockey gods want a Stanley Cup Finals rematch of last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Detroit Redwings. Detroit seemed to dominate the Penguins during that series, although the Pens managed to steal two games. Pittsburgh deserved a lot of credit seeing as how they had gone from being at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, to the top. Detroit, on the other hand, is a given. They had won three Stanley Cups in the previous eleven years, and their roster hasn't really been drastically changed, therefor the experience only added to the talent of this club.

This being a new season, means new faces including some familiar ones playing on the opposing side. Goaltender Ty Conklin played on the 2007-2008 Penguins team, facing Detroit in the Finals. He now finds himself in a red jersey, with a possible chance to play newly, old teammates. This is the same situation for forward Marian Hossa. The Penguins aquired him at last year's trade deadline, and what a deal that was. Hossa was phenomenal through the playoff run, scoring 26 points, twelve of them being goals. Although Conklin wasn't in goal for the Finals, it still will be interesting if this is the matchup to see which team lifts Lord Stanley.

Many Penguins fans, including myself, would love to see the Pens win especially if it's against the Redwings just to spite Hossa. Even though Detroit seems unstoppable come playoffs, the benefit to the opposing team is the unexpected injuries to Norris Trophy candidate, Nick Lidstrom, and Hart Trophy finalist, Pavel Datsyuk. Possibly the team's two best players are questionable to play, which is a relief to the other team.

The goaltending matchup is a good one with Marc-Andre Fleury in for the Pens, and Chris Osgood for the Redwings. They matched up against eachother last year with Osgood going home with the glory. This is a brand new year, including a new bench boss for the Pens. Michel Therrien, the Head Coach that led the team to the Finals last year, was fired midway through the season and in came Dan Bylsma. Though Bylsma's way of coaching may be questionable to some, he turned this team around in a hurry going from tenth place to earning a spot in the post-season. With a new style of coaching, comes a new outlook so if the Pens do advance, their opponent better be ready.

The players that will grab all analysts and media coverage will be the obvious Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the Penguins, and Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg for the Redwings. To my surprise, Hossa hasn't piled up the points this post-season like he did last. As for Zetterberg, he's been a key component to this team with 18 points, but neither of these players numbers match up to those of Crosby and Malkin. Malkin, who currently rides a six multi-point games streak, has 28 points, twelve being goals. Malkin has been lighting up Hurricanes' goalie, Cam Ward, with a hatrick in Game Two and two goals in Game three. Crosby has a chance to break an NHL record of most goals scored in one playoff year. The record is 19 goals and Crosby is at a close 14.

If this shall be the matchup, it will be one exciting series. My guess would be seven games, with Pittsburgh winning. I know Detroit would probably be favored, but I think the Pens are just too offensively talented and too much to handle.

Baby Bruins Backs Against the Wall

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Providence Bruins seem to be imitating the Boston Bruins, as they have fallen into a 3-1 series deficit to the Hershey Bears. Game 4 was played Sunday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, where the Bruins fell to the Bears 3-2 in an overtime thriller. Their backs are against the wall as they look to keep their season alive Monday night in game 5, with the series still in Providence.

The scoring started off in the first period when defenseman Adam McQuaid rushed into the Bears’ zone dropping the puck to Mikko Lehtonen. Lehtonen then passed to Peter Schaefer at the faceoff circle and put the puck past goalie Michal Neuvirth. The Bruins went into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead, as defenseman Jeff Penner scored while rushing up on the play, assists going to Brad Marchand and Vladimir Sobotka.

The Bears cut the lead in half at the 7:31 mark of the second period with a goal from Bryan Helmer. Going into the second intermission the baby B’s led 2-1. The Bruins looked good through the first forty minutes of the game, and Hershey started finding their legs in the second period. For most of the third period it was scoreless, until Keith Aucoin tied the game at two, with 6:48 left in regulation. As the Bears’ bench celebrated, The Dunk crowd fell silent. Hershey scored two unanswered goals to tie the game, and game 4 was headed to overtime.

In overtime both goaltenders looked sharp. Bruins goalie, Tuukka Rask, was the more active one and made more saves as Hershey applied more pressure than the Bruins. Most of the extra period was spent in the Bruins zone, which led to the game-winning goal. The agitator of the night, Graham Mink, tallied the winner to put his team up a 3-1 series lead. Rask stopped 40 of 43 shots for Providence, while Neuvirth made 25 saves for the Bears.

NHL Does it Again

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Colin Campbell proves himself a hypocrite yet again. In Thursday night’s 7-4 win for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina forward Ryan Bayda was assessed a match penalty for a crosscheck to Penguins defenseman, Kris Letang’s, head. Letang also received a game misconduct for his altercation with Tim Gleason. The match penalty in the NHL states “in addition to the match penalty, the player shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the Commissioner has ruled on the issue.” Campbell, the NHL Senior Vice President, doesn’t seem to understand this definition or the term “automatic.”

In round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins played the Montreal Canadiens. I am sure all Bruins fans remember the reason why Boston’s fan favorite, Milan Lucic, was suspended. Lucic received a match penalty towards the end of game two, for crosschecking Montreal forward Maxim Lapierre. The NHL felt as though Lucic was intentionally trying to injure Lapierre as he, just like Bayda, gave a crosscheck to the opposing player’s head. If this is the case, why wasn’t Bayda suspended then? The thing is, Campbell and his fellow NHL executives are inconsistent with their ruling.

Bayda was simply fined $2,500 for his actions which is like pocket money for professional athletes. If Campbell is going to keep washing out the automatic suspensions of match penalties, he should either change the definition of the match penalty or have the same reaction for all cases. He is making himself look bad by making it seem as if players who receive the match penalty only will get suspended when he feels like doing so.

Letang, who was interviewed after the incident, said that Bayda got him right in the mouth with that crosscheck. Even though Letang was frustrated he stated that, “I’m not the guy who gives the suspension. There are people hired for that and they have to make the decision.” Exactly, they have to make the decision, but it doesn’t mean it will be the right one.

The Hurricanes take on the Penguins tonight at 7:30 with the series shifting over to North Carolina. The Pens lead the series 2-0 and although some emotions might carry over into game three, both teams need to stick to their game plan. You never know though, if emotions run wild and more players take questionable action, they might just get let off the hook by the laid-back Colin Campbell.

Dmitry Ready For Draft Day

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Summertime for hockey means free agency, NHL Awards, and the NHL Draft, my personal favorite being the draft. One player I have had my eye on is Dmitry Kulikov. Kulikov is a defenseman for the Drummondville Voltigeurs who is eligible for this year’s draft, and he could be on his way to winning the one thing all Junior players dream of, the Memorial Cup.

With drafting foreign players the language barrier can come into effect. Communication on the ice is not only important for team chemistry, but for making plays. At Kulikov’s young age, he already speaks English very well.

Considering this is his first year playing hockey in North America, Kulikov was extremely impressive. This eighteen year old Russian has put up numbers unexpected for a blue liner. Not only is Kulikov great defensively, but offensively he contributes more than a coach could ask for. During the 2008-2009 season, he averaged at least one point per game, ending the season with 62 points in 57 games. He has done the same so far throughout this year’s playoffs, putting up 20 points in only 19 games.

Kulikov is a key component for the Voltigeurs power play too. Both goals he has scored on this playoff run for the Memorial Cup have been on the power play. His hard, left handed shot is good for finding the tape of a teammate’s stick and more importantly, the back of the net. Earlier in May, Kulikov won three awards for his play this season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He won the Emile Bouchard Trophy which is awarded to the best defenseman, the Mike Bossy Award being the best pro prospect, and the RDS Cup for being rookie of the year.

In my opinion, he would be a good prospect for the Boston Bruins or Montreal Canadiens. For the Bruins, he would add to the shortage of left handed shooters they have and his hard hitting style of play would fit well with Boston. As for Montreal, he could tighten up their defensive unit. Either of these teams would most likely be the best fit for Kulikov.

Kulikov and his teammates are heading to the semifinals of the Mastercard Memorial Cup. The Voltigeurs have a good shot at winning with the hardworking team that they have. If Kulikov were to be drafted this summer, the team would be sure to miss his presence on the ice, but I’d say he’s definitely ready for a shot at the NHL.

Habs Have Their Hands Full

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There are only four teams remaining in this year’s race for Lord Stanley. This leaves the other twenty six off on their summer vacation, one team being the Montreal Canadiens, who have some off season work to do. The Habs have a total of ten unrestricted free agents this summer who they need to take care of whether it’s giving them a contract or shipping them out of Montreal.

These ten free agents aren’t just no names, most of them are the star players of the Canadiens. The list of free agents includes Captain Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev, Robert Lang, Alex Tanguay, Mike Komisarek, Francis Boullion, Tom Kostopoulos, Patrice Brisebois, and Mathieu Schneider.

Can the Canadiens really afford to lose Koivu and Kovalev, arguably the team’s best players? The 2008-2009 campaign wasn’t really one to remember for the centennial season, and if they want to improve their roster, letting go of those two definitely won’t help the cause.

All star defenseman and agitator Komisarek is another key component for Bob Gainey’s club. He’s an enforcer on the ice and logs about twenty-one minutes of ice time per game. Since there is a salary cap in the NHL, if the Canadiens want to keep defenseman Komisarek, then Brisebois and Boullion are players they might want to consider letting go.

Of the other players remaining, I’d say free up some cap space by letting another team grab Kostopoulos while the Canadiens re-sign left wing Tanguay. Tanguay fit in well on a line with Koivu and he scored 16 goals this season, which was fourth highest on the team.

If Gainey does decide to re-sign the big name contracts and let go of the others, the Canadiens organization might be able to sign a skilled goal scorer to help bring this team to a new level. Free agency starts July 1st, so Gainey has until then to take care of who they want to sign but if not, free agency is coming and it’ll hit this team hard.

Bruised and Battered Bruins

Monday, May 18, 2009

Two young stars for the Bruins are to undergo surgery. Forwards Phil Kessel and David Krejci will each be sidelined up to at least six months.

Kessel, 21, will have surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff that he injured back in March in Columbus. The shoulder surgery will sideline him for as long as six months.

Krejci, 23, will have right hip surgery that will keep him out for 4-6 months. Most likely he will not be ready for Bruins training camp and could possibly miss the beginning of next season.

On another note, other Bruins players have been said be injured. Veteran Mark Recchi had kidney stone surgery before game seven. Also, forward Chuck Kobasew was cross checked in game one against Carolina and he is said to have broken ribs. Defenseman Andrew Ference has a bruised hip and will need groin and hernia surgery.

Although the season ending was a heartbreak, maybe it’s a positive after all seeing as though the Bruins who aren’t injured would make a shorter list.

The Staals and the Kid

Sunday, May 17, 2009

When the name Sidney Crosby is brought up, you either love him or hate him. No matter what anyone says about him one thing is true, he stepped it up big time during this year’s playoff run with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins are about to match up against the Hurricanes for the Eastern Conference finals and not only will Crosby be fun to watch, but so will Staal². This series includes a pair of Staals, brothers Jordan and Eric. You can bet these games are going to get competitive.

For Pittsburgh, they’ve got top talent players like forwards Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Carolina on the other hand has forward Eric Staal and goaltender Cam Ward. Although Ward is an amazing goalie, don’t be surprised when there are a lot of high scoring games. Crosby has twelve goals this post-season, a league high and Malkin can take the team on his back when needed. Ward does make those timely saves needed to steal games, but we’ll just have to see how these games go.

As for the Staal’s, I don’t think they’ll be doing much talking outside of the rink. It’s going to be strictly hockey for these two and even a possible head to head battle. With Jordan’s great play, he’s been matched up against other team’s top lines, so he might be on the ice every time Eric is.

Marc-Andre Fleury will be in between the pipes for the Pens and his style of goaltending has been said to be similar to that of Tim Thomas. While I slightly disagree, I think the only reason Fleury would be compared to Thomas is because of the athleticism of their saves. Either way, Fleury is a good goaltender with some experience just like Ward.

Some other key players that might go under the radar are Tyler Kennedy and Chris Kunitz for the Penguins and Sergei Samsonov for the Canes. Kennedy is a hardworking center who is strong on the puck, where Kunitz is good for battling along the boards and placing himself in front of the net. Samsonov has scored some clutch goals this post-season but I still feel as though he’s not given enough credit.

The battle begins Monday night at Mellon Arena. Let’s go Pens!

See You in October

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another season has come to an end for the Boston Bruins, a very heartbreaking end. All Bruins fans can do now, is say thank you. Thank you for a great eight months of hockey including a longer playoff run than any Bruins team has done in the past few years.

Although Thursday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Hurricanes wasn’t the result any Bruins player or fan wanted, they should all be proud of the comeback of this series and their push to be the best all season long.

There are two ways to look at the conclusion of this season. One way, of course, is the negative. I’m sure that all the bandwagon fans are thinking this year was just another let down and that they never really thought the Bruins were going to win it all anyways. People like that obviously don’t realize the improvement this team has made over the past few seasons. The group of guys the Black and Gold have now brought hockey back into the city of Boston.

It took the Red Sox 86 years to win another championship, it took the Celtics 22 years, and the Patriots…well let’s just say going perfect all season doesn’t mean anything if you can’t win the big one. Boston is a great sports town and you can’t give up on your team just because they didn’t win this year. There’s always next year.

The diehards and the people that are with the team win or lose, look at it with the positives. There are so many positives to take out of this season. No critic or analyst expected the Bruins to finish atop the Eastern Conference. Nor did they expect them to come one point shy of winning the President’s Trophy. All this is above and beyond expectations. The 2008-2009 season was exciting to watch as we got to see the young players develop into more complete players, and watch Claude Julien & Co turn this team in the right direction.

Even though it’s sad that it had to come to an end, the Hub of Hockey should be looking forward to the NHL Awards. The B’s have Zdeno Chara up for the Norris Trophy, Tim Thomas up for the Vezina, and Coach Claude Julien up for the Jack Adams.

The motto all season long has been “We Want It”. The Bruins definitely still want it, and so do the fans. So long for now, and we’ll see what October shall bring.

Little Bitz at a Time

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What a story this year in the playoffs that young guns have written. The most impressive to me has been Boston Bruins right wing, Byron Bitz. Who says you need to play a certain amount of games to make a difference? With Bitz, it only took him one game to get used to playoff hockey in the NHL.

In the first round series versus the Montreal Canadiens, left winger Milan Lucic was suspended for one game, so in came Bitz as a replacement. With 13:02 of ice time, he recorded his first playoff point with an assist on line mate Shawn Thornton’s goal. He came out of that game as a +1 with two penalty minutes.

For the rest of that series, he was scratched as Lucic returned. When the second round series against the Carolina Hurricanes approached, he got another chance. Teammate Blake Wheeler hadn’t produced much during this post season run, so Coach Claude Julien decided to make him a healthy scratch meaning Bitz had better be ready.

Bitzy, as teammates call him, has played in games 4, 5 and 6. Although he hasn’t showed up on the scoreboard, he is doing all the little things right while also bringing his physical presence. In game six, the Bruins faced elimination yet again. They were already up 1-0 when Bitz placed himself in front of goalie Cam Ward to create a screen in front. Defenseman Steve Montador then took a shot and scored to put the Bruins up by two.

Being down in a series three games to one, the team needs to figure out what to change. The Bruins know they play their best hockey when they are physical, and Bitz fits right into that.

NHL "A Joke"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The NHL cannot expect to be taken seriously when time after time the league goes against their own rules, and does not enforce what they say they “believe” in. Commissioner Gary Bettman and the main video room in the NHL’s Toronto offices wanted to ban hits to the head. When it came down to it, did the league’s officials really bare down to stop them? It sure didn’t seem like it, because hits to the head went without suspensions which sure wouldn’t stop a player from doing it again.

The situation with Boston Bruins’ defenseman, Aaron Ward, is another example of how the league is going against their ruling. In Sunday night’s game five versus the Carolina Hurricanes, Ward was sucker punched in the face by Hurricane forward Scott Walker. Walker received a 10 minute game misconduct, 5 minute fighting major, and a 2 minute instigating penalty.

If a player receives an automatic game misconduct within the last few minutes of a game, it is carried into the next game, hense the term “automatic”. Was this the case for Scott Walker? No, the NHL dismissed the automatic suspension and simply fined him $2500. This decision is basically telling all fans, players, and teams that it is only an automatic suspension when Colin Campbell feels like it.

When interviewed about the situation, Ward had said, “It showed me, based on the decision, that I don’t matter to begin with, so to voice my opinion isn’t worth it.” This is the message being sent to a player who was punched, on a cheap shot. Hurricane President and General Manager Jim Rutherford, however, has a different opinion. “We are satisfied with the league’s ruling,” he stated.

The league supposedly has no tolerance for any violent action in the remaining minutes of a game when the score has already been settled. Walker got off pretty easy, seeing as though Ward could have been seriously injured.

The Bruins take on the Canes tonight at 7, and Aaron Ward just wants everyone to let this go and focus on the game. “It’s a joke, and we’ll just move on from there,” stated a very serious Ward after practice. So I guess all anyone can do is move on, and hope from here on out the league is just a little bit more careful with their decisions.

Against the Odds

When a team makes the playoffs it emphasizes that they are a good hockey team and can compete with the best. This sure is the case for the Anaheim Ducks. This club was an eighth place seed coming into this years playoffs. Upsets happen, but it’s rarer when an eighth place team surpasses the first. When they knocked out the San Jose Sharks, they took out the team with the best regular season record.

Knocking off the first seeded team in the first round of the playoffs, isn’t usually what anyone expects. The Ducks pulled off this upset in six games with their backup goaltender coming through with two shutouts and some timely saves. Jonas Hiller was put in between the pipes instead of the usual Jean-Sebastien Giguere and he stole some games for his team.

They have gotten major contributions from players like Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, and Scott Neidermayer in both the Sharks series, and their second round matchup with second placed Detroit Redwings. Both the Ducks and Redwings’ power plays and penalty kills have been pretty equal to each other. Anaheim’s power play is at 27% while Detroit’s is at about 29%. While Detroit is having the most successful power play, the Ducks are doing a good job killing them with a 79% penalty kill.

Now it’s almost the end of the second round, and the Ducks are facing a Detroit Redwings 3-2 series lead. They head to their home ice for game six at the Honda Center where they are 3-2 this post season. They upset the Sharks, so can they pull one on the defending Stanley Cup champs? We’ll just have to see.

No Trouble in the Hub

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Boston Bruins aren’t in trouble. Whoever thought they were going to sweep their way to the finals needs to think realistically.

This second round series versus the Carolina Hurricanes is going to be a hard fought one, and not easy. Although the Bruins came out and won game one after being off for nine days, they need to get back to being that dangerously offensive team they are known to be. Game three was close, so close it went into overtime. The black and gold had chances in the very beginning of the extra period, but couldn’t capitalize. Not being able to clean up in their zone, is what led to yet another clutch goal for Jussi Jokinen.

Other than the offense, the Bruins need to get back to playing their solid defensive game. It seems as if in games one and two, they couldn’t control pucks in their own zone and they were making sloppy plays. Once they got themselves into the attacking zone, the plays seemed to go well. They put pressure on Carolina goaltender Cam Ward but he just showed exactly why he won the Conn Smythe in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Even though Ward is a great goalie and is stealing some games for the Canes, we cannot forget about the acrobatic saves Tim Thomas throws our way. He is a Vezina Finalist and has been outstanding for the Bruins all season long. The defensemen in front of him just need to step it up in game four and help out their man in between the pipes.

Coach Claude Julien, a Jack Adams finalist, is known for mixing up his lines and doing a pretty good job. For game four, I wouldn’t be too surprised if I see new line combinations to try to get some chemistry going offensively.

The rest of the series should be exciting. As long as the Bruins can steal the next one in Carolina, they should be back on track when they hit home ice on Sunday for game five.
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